Utrecht, 3 June 2020 | 6 minutes (excl. video)

Forget computer games like Star Wars, Outer Worlds or Stellaris. There's a new kid on the block: the ISS simulator game from SpaceX. SpaceX (Elon Musk's space company) has put a game simulator online that allows astronauts in civilian clothes to connect the Crew Dragon capsule to the space station from a virtual cockpit. We are fans.

Probably most readers will already be aware of the ISS Docking simulator game. For those who see water burning now: SpaceX recently started offering a free online similator experience for connecting the Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. The game may seem simple, but precision is required.

The game is based on SpaceX's first manned test flight. Normally, this pairing is automatic, but astronauts can switch to manual pairing when needed. Albeit that things move a little slower in space. Now everyone can try to successfully dock the capsule from the virtual cockpit at home.

SpaceX has now succeeded in connecting the (non-virtual) Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS after a flight of about 19 hours. At a little after four (Dutch time) last Sunday afternoon, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley arrived at the station with the Crew Dragon after being launched into the air by a Falcon 9 rocket.

As far as we are concerned, this is a small piece of history. For several reasons. It is the first commercial flight in spaceflight. In addition, it is a good start of the collaboration between SpaceX and NASA: it is expected that the Crew Dragon will make some more commercial rides after this successful launch. In this way, SpaceX also brings back a bit of shine to American space travel. Inclusive fancy spacesuit and all, of course.

For those who missed the launch last weekend. In the video below you can see the launch of the NASA & SpaceX Crew Daron.