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How Orbiter changed my life and that of my friends Issue Tools
issueid=1132 05-03-2014 07:48 AM
Orbinaut
How Orbiter changed my life and that of my friends
General Feedback

Hi there.

I'm not a member of the general community. I having been lurking and searching the forums anonymously or otherwise for as long as I can remember throughout the last 12 years or so that Orbiter has been in existence.

As a teen I played MS Space Simulator, and as toyish as it was. It was captivating at the same time for my astronomy interested mind. I was no math whiz, in fact I'm virtually math illiterate. But that didn't make Orbiter, or its concepts intimidating to me in the least. Especially as advanced MFD's and Autopilots have made Orbiter more accessible than ever.

Anyway, when I discovered Orbiter around 2001-2002 I was amazed that such a quality program was free. The very first scenario I ran was a shuttle atlantis launch, and upon attaining orbit.. when I looked out upon what was then(and thanks to the addon community still is) the most breathtaking PC simulation of the earth from orbit I had ever seen. I fell in love.

The learning curve was brutal. I probably have the bloodiest and most expensive space program in history. But the first time TransX took me to Mars, and then Jupiter.. I was simply stunned at the vistas. Jupiter with the Gallileans moving in their circles and growing closer under medium time accel is still a sight for me. To this day now that I'm a fully grown man of 37.. I still am fascinated by looking out the virtual window of the Arrow Freighter and seeing Jupiter fill the window over time as I'm adjusting my IMFD trajectory for a perfect slingshot to Eris or Pluto, or wherever I feel like going within the Solar Sytem(now a VERY BIG PLACE thanks to the add-on community).

But I still remember reading the original Read-Me by Dr. Schweiger about the original purpose of Orbiter.. to teach orbital mechanics in a fun and interactive way. This is orbiters greatest contribution to my life.

For a man with a 7th grade math education, over the many years of Orbiteering I have learned so much about orbital mechanics and how to visualize orbits in my mind(usually in the form of an IMFD readout) and pass that knowledge on to my friends and family.

Thanks to orbiter, I was able recently to sit with a group of friends at and after sunset a few weeks ago, show them the positions of the planets in the sky in relation to the Sun... and then modeled the solar system as it looked at that moment with rocks on the ground.

My one friend was stunned. He said to people later "I actually learned something about where I live, and its place in the universe."

That happened because for a decade or more now I have been hopping between these planets virtually, viewing their orbital trajectories in MFD's and seeing how they change in accel time.

I was able to show them the ISS as it flew overhead. Now, it is one of our nightly celebrations, like 420. On nights the ISS is coming over head for bright and long minutes(Which is almost every night). We marvel through binoculars that you can actually spot the solar panels and general shape in the tiny image. The view is even better through my 6 inch reflector.

What is better is more than the image, in that I can explain in terms they understand why the ISS comes back in 2 hours every night for a few moments and always slightly north or south from when it appeared before and why it fades and winks out.. because I have seen with my own eyes for years and years the orbital path of the ISS(and everything else) in an Orbiter Map MFD and the interation of the terminator of Earth's shadow.

I was also able to show them other satellites that are visible after sunset, and draw their orbital paths in the dirt, so they could see for themselves what an orbit looks like.. I could explain concepts such as inclination, apoapsis, periapsis, ascending and descending nodes.. all these things to a group of regular people who never before ever looked up with any idea as to what they were really looking at.

Orbiter opens eyes. Orbiter opens minds. Orbiter changes lives..

Thank you Dr. Schweiger and the entire community for this wonderful "game" that has had a beloved space on my hard drive(and with addons a very very large chunk of it!) for over a decade. I am so looking forward to another one.

Patrick Turner
Hamilton, Ohio
Issue Details
Issue Type Feedback
Project ORBITER: 2010-P1 and newer
Status Open
Priority 10 - Lowest
Regarding Version 121202
Regarding Version (none)
Users who agree 6
Users who disagree 0
Assigned Users (none)
Tags (none)

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