If you always wanted to pilot a spaceship, here's your big chance to simulate the experience.
"This simulator will familiarize you with the controls of [the] actual interface used by NASA astronauts to manually pilot the SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle to the International Space Station," SpaceX says, using an older name for the vehicle, in its instructions for the simulator available here.
The simulator shows parameters such as distance, roll, pitch and yaw, along with green numbers that show corrections that are necessary to reach the space station. (A successful docking will occur when all the displayed correction numbers are below 0.2, SpaceX says.) Also watch for blue numbers, which are the rates (or speed) that you are translating or rotating in space.
When flying, aim for the green diamond that is marked on the docking adapter. As for real astronauts, SpaceX says it is best to be precise in your movements and not to make large, sudden moves — just in case you miss the space station completely or accidentally crash into it. SpaceX advises that when you are less than 16 feet (5 meters) from the space station, keep your rate below minus 0.6 feet per second (minus 0.2 meters per second), as measured by the internal display.
SpaceX also released a video on Twitter showing a mock astronaut going through the docking experience with the software. An automated voice reminds the crew to keep safety in mind, including lowering the visors of their helmets, before undertaking the operation — which is a nod to how astronauts plan out their procedures in space.
In real life, SpaceX added, the procedure will be optional. "Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, but crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary," according to a company statement.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will pilot Crew Dragon's first mission, a test flight scheduled to launch on May 27. If all goes smoothly, a crew of four astronauts will be aboard the next Crew Dragon to head to the space station.
- In photos: SpaceX's amazing Crew Dragon in-flight abort test launch
- Take a wild ride with SpaceX in this 'emergency egress' test for Crew Dragon (video)
- SpaceX Crew Dragon arrives at launch site for historic Demo-2 flight