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Monday, May 08, 2006

To the high frontier: Orbiter 2006 is out!

I've been too busy meeting a deadline over the past week to actually try and play it, but the long-awaited 2006 edition of Dr. Martin Schweiger's outstanding space simulator Orbiter is finally out--just in time to celebrate 45 years of American human spaceflight. Orbiter is a completely free space flight simulator for Windows systems with an active user community that is constantly producing mods and new spaceships to expand the user experience. You can find historical spacecraft (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle), spacecraft that should have flown (Apollos 18-25, X-20, Big Gemini, Blue Gemini, Manned Planetary Mission Modules, MOL, Space Station Freedom, X-30) and spacecraft that had better be built and flown repeatedly or the Free World is in trouble (Altair, Ares, Artemis, the L-1 Gateway). Trust me, flying your own Freedom 7 mission , guiding the Eagle to a safe landing on the Sea of Tranquility, landing Atlantis at KSC, or taking a nuclear-powered tug to the Moon is a lot of fun. If you have even a passing interest in either flight simulation or space exploration, you owe it to yourself to download Orbiter and take the Delta Glider for a test flight to the Brighton Beach lunar colony.

If your rig can handle it, be sure to download the spiffy new photorealistic Level 10 solar system planetary textures, which are separate downloads. You can download Orbiter here, and Gene Harm's Orbiter site is the best gateway to finding the additional mods you'll need to really enhance your Orbiter experience. Note that the 2002 version of Orbiter that was included on the CD as part of CGW's first "101 Free Games" story a few years back is five generations older than the new version, so if you weren't impressed then, you should definitely try it again.

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