In preparation for its upcoming mission to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX has released a free online simulator to allow users to experience what it's like to fly the Crew Dragon capsule. Through the simulator, users can try docking the capsule at the ISS.

The simulation offers a glimpse of SpaceX's first crewed test flight for the Crew Dragon to the ISS. This mission will be spearheaded by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

The view inside a Crew Dragon spacecraft simulator being used to train NASA astronauts is shown at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, U.S. August 13, 2018.
The view inside a Crew Dragon spacecraft simulator being used to train NASA astronauts is shown at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, U.S. August 13, 2018. Reuters

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Simulator

In the simulator launched by SpaceX, space enthusiasts will be able to take control of a virtual Crew Dragon capsule as it heads towards the ISS. According to SpaceX, the simulator shows that the actual interface that will be used by astronauts when manually controlling the capsule.

"This simulator will familiarize you with the controls of [the] actual interface used by NASA astronauts to manually pilot the SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle to the International Space Station," SpaceX stated.

Flying The Crew Dragon Capsule

Upon starting the simulator, users will be greeted with a control interface. It contains various parameters related to flight such as the roll, pitch, yaw and the distance from the ISS. The interface also shows numbers in green that indicate the corrections needed to be made in order to reach the station. Through the capsule's movements, these numbers can be adjusted by the user.

As noted by SpaceX, users need to keep their movements small and precise in order to avoid missing the station or crashing into it. According to the company, users will be able to dock successfully once all the green numbers on the interface are below 0.2. "Successful docking is achieved when all green numbers in the center of the interface are below 0.2," SpaceX explained. "Movement in space is slow and requires patience and precision."

SpaceX's Demo 2 Mission

Although the Crew Dragon capsule will dock with the ISS automatically during actual missions, astronauts will still have the option to do it manually. These docking procedures will be demonstrated as SpaceX prepares its first manned mission to the ISS.

As confirmed by the company, this mission is scheduled to take place on Wednesday (May 27). It will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.