We always have it on our list to learn more about Orbiter. If you haven’t seen it, it is a hyperrealistic space simulator. Granted, you can put it in an easy mode, but its real strength is you can very accurately model spacecraft like the Space Shuttle and have very realistic controls. In order to spur development, the program is now open source.
We think this is interesting for two reasons. First, if you ever wanted to contribute into a project of this scope, here’s your chance. You might not want to write a full-blow space simulator but you might have something to add. However, open source also means you can see how the program works and either reuse it in your own open source projects or just simply learn from the techniques.
As an example, we know lots of people make replica DSKY devices. How cool would it be to interface one to Orbiter? Or build out an entire Shuttle cockpit? We wish Orbiter was cross-platform but we hear it will run under WINE.
If you haven’t run into Orbiter before, here’s the description from their FAQ:
Orbiter is a real-time 3D space flight simulator for the Windows PC. The concept is similar to traditional flight simulator software, but you are not limited to atmospheric flight. Orbiter allows you to experience manned and unmanned space flight missions from the pilot’s perspective. Take control from launch to orbtial insertion, rendezvous with space stations, deploy and recapture satellites, and re-enter and land on a planetary surface. The playground is our solar system, and you can even execute missions to the moon or other planets. (Time compression is available to shorten long cruise phases.) Orbiter accurately models the physics of spaceflight, which makes it possible to either recreate historic missions, or use it as a sandbox for futuristic spacecraft concepts.
Don’t forget when you build a great project around this to drop us a note.