Apollo 8 – Real Time Simulation

I recently ran a little experiment where I played through Apollo 8 using AMSO, but in real time.  I tried to leave orbiter running continuously while I performed other tasks but keeping watch on a timer I had set on my phone to keep track of the time and be aware of upcoming events.


Apollo 8, approaching an unlit moon


Recreating the famous Earth-Rise photograph from Apollo 8


Earthrise again, but without so much UI in the way

I did run into a few problems, I had a failure in the CM SPS engine which cut its efficiency down quite a lot.  i was uncertain if I would have enough Dv left to make it back to earth, so I compromised and did not completely circularize the lunar orbit, as you can see in the above screenshot.

a8 tei success

TEI successful, leaving the moon behind

I followed the official Apollo 8 Timeline published by NASA to try to be as close as possible, but of course running a simulation is a bit different, but I was never off by more than a few minutes at most.

a8 almost home

Almost home, just a few thousand kilometers away

a8 separation

Service Module separation, preparing for reentry

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Mac and Linux support

I realize that one of the immediate weaknesses of what I want to accomplish is limited by the availability of Windows to people who might be interested in learning.  Although Windows accounts for a very large share of computer operating systems, not everybody uses it.  Luckily, I’ve had very promising results running Orbiter through Wine, a Windows implementation for Linux, Mac, etc.  I’m planning on writing up a supplemental guide and posting it here once its ready so that anyone who is interested can get on board.

Mac and Linux, Orbiter for everyone

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Lessons 1 & 2 are up

I have written the first versions of the first two lessons.  They are in a completed state, although I feel like they warrant some refinement along the way.  In any case, I present them here to you, I hope that you find them interesting and helpful.  Please let me know if you find any mistakes along the way, whether it by in grammar, factual claims, methodology, pacing, teaching methods, etc.

Delta Glider taking off

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New Blog

Welcome to this new blog where I hope to explore with you principals of space flight as demonstrated through Martin Schweiger’s space simulator program Orbiter.  In the following weeks and months, I plan to release content on this blog that can easily be followed and guide you through the basic steps of getting Orbiter set up on your computer as well as taking you through your first few flights.  Along the way I will provide an explanation of the physics behind what you are doing, and hope to open discussions about science, astronomy, engineering and philosophy as it relates to each scenario we deal with.

3D cockpit of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in Orbiter 2010

Over time, my goal is to establish an informal course curriculum intended as a freely available online college level class.  I am a big fan of the OpenCourseWare movement and want to contribute to it in my own small way.  This will be achieved by adhering to the same standard of educational presentation as established by University level education as well as setting standards for knowledge and abilities.  I understand that this is a big undertaking and will take a considerable effort and commitment to ensuring the level of quality needed.

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