State of Space simulation software

If anyone has wondered why the site is called HighEarthOrbit, it is because of my long-years in training, and fascination with, all things space-related. In the past couple of years, I've found myself deeply entrenched in very computer-related things, stemming from my deep immersion in building a large, open-source spacecraft simulation framework for my master's thesis, as well as working at another space simulation company for a short time. The result being I do dynamics and engineering at my day job, but a lot of computer programming, web stuff in my spare time.

Well, I've been feeling the pull to go back to spacecraft simulation for my "fun time" activity (yes, I am a geek), so I've been reacquainting myself with the current state of space simulation software and toolkits.

NASA apparently has large support now for open-source software, which makes great sense considering they are a government entity. World Wind has gotten a lot of publicity as it is like an open-source, and very pretty, version of GoogleEarth.

Check out WW2D for a truly cross-platform version of World Wind for those of you running a nice OS (such as Linux, Mac OS X)

MSF is a large scale simulation framework utilitizing HLA and various other packages run by NASA Ame's. The dynamics engine employs ODE - the open-source dynamics engine as well as ROAMS.

A set of tools, software, and resources for designed, scrapped, and flying spacecraft missions using Linux as their onboard operating system. LinuxJournal has an article, Linux on a Small Satellite by Christoper Huffine that gives a very good and in-depth description of experiences using Linux onboard.

This set of pages has a huge list of software, hardware, resources, and more you may need if you want to build your own shuttle simulator or more. It includes links to most of the major games that have been space simulation and still ongoing ones.


What would a modern set of references be without the requisite blogs:

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.