115

In my former job I was writing educational software. In short, it's exactly what you described: we offered a paid version of what you could get for free by looking out on the internet, going to class, going to the library, ... And yet, I'm still incredibly proud of it, knowing I made a difference. What is the difference between well written software and a ...


94

In several press conferences, employees of NASA or private space firms have been asked if they played KSP, and some answered with "Yes". NASA used patched conics to find candidate orbits for Apollo back in the days. With that being said, KSP strikes the balance between accuracy and simplicity. Patched conics give a good idea how space works, ...


53

I want to allow students to tinker around with basic central force motion and see the ways in which conic sections are altered by thrust, etc. Seeing/enacting an example of rendezvous (maybe in a CW frame?) would be neat too. I definitely think Kerbal Space Program is the right answer here. The ways in which it departs from real-world space flight (such as ...


25

In a sense, you're correct; KSP does not teach you any of the math involved in orbital dynamics. But it gives you an incredibly good intuitive sense of how they work. For example, one of the first things you learn is just how much fuel you need to get to orbit. You quickly have to come to grips with the tyranny of the rocket equation if you want to get ...


24

Personally, I teach orbital mechanics classes to preschoolers, elementary and middle school kids using a makeshift trampoline with stretchable cloth clamped to the rim. Place a heavy weight (e.g. a dumbell) in the middle to simulate a large massive body like the earth or the sun. Use marbles to illustrate a spacecraft or planets. You can easily show the ...


20

There are several ways to get involved in space exploration and you don’t necessary need to have the greatest understanding of everything. Focus on one area that you find interesting and excel at that, whether it be command and data processing, thermal, mechanical, systems engineering, etc… it will all aid in the development of a spacecraft. If you want to ...


17

The other 4 answers here do a wonderful job of articulating what I love about KSP, but I'd like to point out one more thing from my perspective as a game designer who has logged over 600 hours in the game. While much of the game is simplistic relative to the real world, it is accurate enough to be intuitive why things failed. Rocket flipped over during ...


12

You concentrate on the unrealistic points which have to be present in the game and ignore strong realistic points. The Kerbal Space Program is not a perfect spacecraft simulator however it successfully teaches the basics. Most importantly even if it doesn't full N-body simulation it's perfectly capable of simulating Kepler's orbits that give you good first ...


12

Spaceflight Simulator An Android software, but it's possible to run it on a PC as well. It's 2d, so it's much simpler to use than 3d software. There are some premium features ($4 unlocks all of them forever), but the free version is enough to launch missions to all the planets in the inner Solar System, and to put space stations in orbit and dock to them. ...


12

UC Boulder has a project, PhET, that has many free, interactive, in-browser math and science modules. They have one called Gravity and Orbits that's written in HTML5, making it compatible with most modern browsers (including Safari on iPads). If you click the 'For Teachers' drop-down, you'll find it even has quite a few resources for lesson planning with ...


11

Probably too basic for what you want but Osmos (https://osmos-game.com/) has modes where the player is basically orbitting an attractor and has to change orbit to rendezvous with other objects in different orbits. This teaches the basic idea that you can't just thrust towards your target and expect to get there. Another mode involves multiple attractors ...


11

As another enthusiast who frequently gets lots I'd recommend Kerbal Space Program. Scott Manley had a great YouTube series called "Things Kerbal Space Program doesn't teach" and I find those very useful.


10

Kudos to you for your efforts to educate youngsters about the universe! The knowledge they gain, and the enthusiasm you bring to them that leads to more knowledge in the future, will help them become better citizens in a society based on use of technology to provide a better life. All the kinds of activities you mention are good ones. They touch on basic ...


8

I think literally the first game ever created by Stephen R. Russell (I heard about it through a book on J. C. R. Licklider) was a game called SpaceWar. The idea is to shoot your opponent whilst avoiding getting sucked falling into the gravitational void in the centre. There's numerous emulators for it - for example https://www.masswerk.at/spacewar/


7

You can get involved in amateur radio (especially satellite activities). Look at AMSAT. You can also build a ground station and talk to the astronauts on the ISS (ARISS). Building an amateur radio satellite station is not rocket science and does not have to be terribly expensive.


7

I can't believe no one's mentioned Orbiter 2010! Its a free game, similar to KSP, but without the building part, and with full-scale, n-body physics. There is a mod for it called Interplanetary which allows you to input your location, your destination, and the maximum time you have to get there, and it will tell you how much dV you need and give you a ...


6

While it does not seem to offer propulsive orbit changes, the TestTubeGames Gravity Simulator demonstrates orbital motion in a web interface.


6

Modern spacecraft use a wide variety of materials, and it depends on the type and size of spacecraft. For most large spacecraft the primary structural components are usually made of carbon composites, aluminum honeycomb, or a combination of both (i.e. aluminum honeycomb with carbon composite face sheets). As a result, you would rarely see welding or ...


5

I'd like to first address this part: But that last bit is only because it was written with simplifying mathematical approximations in the first place, and just changing to 3-body Newtonioan physics instead of patched conics would then allow "Lagrange points, perturbations, Lissajous orbits, (and) halo orbits..."; there would not be any need to ...


5

The US Space and Rocket Center (official visitor center of Marshall Space Flight Center) in Huntsville, Alabama has the crew station from one of the Lunar Module Mission Simulators. You can't get inside, but you can at least look through a full sized door opening. Picture of the inside Front view of the crew station Side view of the crew station Compare ...


4

In theory you could use KSpaceDuel https://www.kde.org/applications/games/kspaceduel/ for this purpose. The power-potential of the spacecraft is way out of range for a typical rocket, but orbital transfers work the way they should until touching a screen edge.


4

Here are two more fun ones which have not been mentioned before Super Planet Crash : Browser based game where you add planets to a solar system.The aim of the game is to score as high as possible. Score points for bigger planets (which upset other orbits more), for more planets (which lead to more complex dynamics) and for making your solar system last ...


4

I'll address this one part that wasn't answered yet: A guide on how to prepare yourself to be hired as a NASA employee (not astronaut) would potentially be good material. This is based on my experience as a NASA contractor from 1983 - 2014 - I have no idea if it's official policy or written down anywhere. The most important thing you can do - in fact ...


4

What I would do is read the book, and where you run in to a concept that doesn't make sense to you, use other resources to better understand that. But bottom line, do what is interesting to you.


3

What you are asking for is an incredibly large and broad subject being crammed on a very young mind. There are whole libraries of books of "experiments/activities" that you can do with kids of different ages that correlate to the advancement of the understanding of this subject. But, in my opinion, all of them are somewhat unimportant in relation to the ...


3

NASA deals with aerospace technology, much of which is protected by ITAR. Specifically is the following paragraph: Defense services include the furnishing of assistance (including training) to a foreign person in the integration of a satellite or spacecraft to a launch vehicle, including both planning and onsite support, regardless of the jurisdiction, ...


2

I second most of what @mefitico said in his excellent answer. Most CubeSat operators even universities will not permit you to operate their satellite. It is a valuable asset, and they don't want anyone just playing with it. Not to mention, often their licenses (e.g. NOAA) has significant restrictions on how they must operate their satellite. You can ...


2

The short answer is: Unless you are really lucky, your request is unfeasible. The long answer is: If you goal is to get familiar with protocols and data flow, I'd suggest you start studying the CCSDS standards, as they're the usual starting point for telemetry and telecommand formatting. Then, I'd suggest you find some software that will help you get ...


2

KSP teaches an intuitive understanding of orbital mechanics in a way that reading text books, watching videos or any other non-interactive method of learning fails to achieve. By displaying a real-time prediction of future orbits as manoeuvres are planned and executed, it instils a visual representation of orbital changes that can be used to to reason about ...


2

A pretty big book out of NASA points out (p. 530) that educational enrollment in STEM fields through the graduate level correlated with funding for the Apollo program. However, a recent paper in the journal Space Policy questions that there is a cause-effect relationship there: Moreover, because there is evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship from ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible