Space is a terrifying place devoid of oxygen and mercy, and you should never go there. But if you insist on spitting in Death’s eye and forsaking the Mother Earth that raised you, at least do a few dry runs before clambering aboard your flying metal shroud.
Space X has released an online simulator allowing you to try docking their Crew Dragon spacecraft with the International Space Station. It appears fairly simple at first glance, with a dozen big grey buttons allowing you to adjust the roll, pitch, and yaw. However, this innocent exterior belies a very difficult task demanding careful precision and an abundance of patience.
The incremental progress in the simulator is incredibly slow, so astronautics may not be those who feel the need for speed — or who aren’t immune to boredom. I personally have not yet managed to dock successfully. I have however sent myself careening helplessly off into space, making like George Clooney in Gravity and fulfilling a very specific and long-held fear of mine.
If you think you can do better — and I highly suspect you can — you can find Space X’s simulator here.
Fortunately, real astronauts likely won’t need to go through this arduous docking process themselves. “Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, but crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary,” wrote Space X on Twitter.
The actual Crew Dragon capsule will be launched into space by a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27, in what will be Space X’s first crewed mission. The spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS — two individuals vastly more qualified than I to handle navigating the void.