Orbiter Space Flight Simulator Guide, GamersOnLinux

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator Guide

Daerandin Active Member

Orbiter is a freeware Space Flight Simulator, primarily developed by a single person. The first version was released in November 2000, and it is still in development with a new version released now and then. The emphasis is firmly on realism, so you should be prepared to learn orbital mechanics to be able to properly play this simulator. The number of add-ons available is staggering, ranging from historical vessels and missions, to pure science fiction.

This guide will explain how to set up a virtual drive in PlayOnLinux to run Orbiter with the popular Orbiter Sound add-on, and the DirectX9 graphical client since the OpenGL client seems to no longer be in active development and the current version is getting old. Towards the end of the guide will also be instructions for the popular XR fleet as extracting the archives proved to be slightly problematic under Linux.

To learn more about PlayOnLinux and Wine configuration, see the online manual: PlayOnLinux explained

Arch Linux 64-bit
PlayOnLinux 4.2.8
Wine 1.7.47

The main website for Orbiter is located here: Orbiter

However, the archives we will be using are located at: orbitersimulator.com

On that website, click on “Orbiter 2010 Downloads”

There is a download there called “Orbiter 2010 BigFile Download”, which includes all improved textures with the game, however for this guide we will download the files individually since a 2 GB download might be too large for some people.

For the base game, we want the zip archive under the “Orbiter 2010 Base Downloads”, so click on “Download” for the “Orbiter Base | zip |” line.

Below are texture downloads for greatly improved visual quality which I strongly suggest downloading. Download all the following to get high quality textures:

  • C Sphere
  • Dione L7
  • Earth L11, L14
  • Mars L11
  • Moon L11
  • Planets, Moons

For consistency with the rest of this guide, open your home folder and create a new folder there named “Orbiter_files” and then move all the downloaded archives for Orbiter into that folder.

Do not worry if you do not have all the same files in your folder that you see on my screenshot, my screenshot is simply from after I have downloaded the game files as well as the add-ons I like.

Now we need to download the DirectX9 client. This is not required, but it provides much better visuals than the default graphical client, as well as greatly improved framerate. It can be found on this link: D3D9Client Development

Just follow the link there to download it

Now we are going to download the hugely popular and pretty much mandatory add-on that provides sound. While we are at it, we will also download two add-ons from the same developer that provide a couple of cool ships while also providing a basic code framework that many other add-ons require.

Here you should download all three add-ons:

  • OrbiterSound 4.0
  • DeltaGliderIV-3 + UMmu 3
  • UCGO 2.5 + UMmu 3

Setup PlayOnLinux

Launch PlayOnLinux and select ‘Tools’ and ‘Manage Wine versions’

In the new window that appears, scroll through the ‘Available Wine versions’ box to find ‘1.7.47’ and click on the right pointing arrow to install it, now it will be visible under ‘Installed Wine versions’ on the right side
If you have a 64-bits system, make sure you have selected the ‘Wine versions (x86)’ tab above, although it will also work well with 64-bit wine according to my own testing.

Just close the window. Back at the main PlayOnLinux window, select ‘Install’

Click on ‘Install a non-listed program’

Select ‘Install a program in a new virtual drive’ and click next

Name the virtual drive “orbiter” and click Next

Select “Use another version of Wine”, “Configure Wine” and “Install some libraries” before you click Next

On the wine selection window, select 1.7.47 and click next. Make sure you select ’32-bits window installation’ if you are on a 64-bit system, although it should work equally well with a 64-bit virtual drive

When the wine configuration window appear, select the ‘Graphics’ tab, and click the checkbox for all four options, just like in my screenshot. You should set the resolution to your desktop resolution. I have a desktop resolution of 1920 x 1080, so I set the wine virtual desktop to the same resolution.

Note: Even though the language is Norwegian in my screenshot, the layout will look the same for you

When you come to the selection of libraries to install, select:

  • POL_Install_corefonts
  • POL_Install_dxfullsetup
  • POL_Install_vcrun2005

When it asks you for the install file to run, click on ‘Cancel’

The virtual drive has already been set up by this point and there is no need to run any install file.

Now it is time to extract the the content of the archives into the virtual drive we just set up. Orbiter does not touch the windows registry in any way, so there is no need to run any installer. First we will create a directory for Orbiter within the virtual drive, so open a terminal and type

This will create a folder called “Orbiter” on the C disk in the virtual drive. Then it is time to extract everything. For this guide we will use 7zip to exctract. The Linux version of 7zip is usually called p7zip. It is available in the official repositories for most Linux distros, so just search for it in the software center for the distribution you use. Once you have it installed, open a terminal and type the following:

This way everything we extract will by default extract to the Orbiter folder in the virtual drive, now in the same terminal, type:

Check my screenshot to see how it is supposed to look.

It is very important that you don’t close the terminal between typing these commands, otherwise it will not extract into the correct folder.

To avoid having to type the full name of the orbiter archive, you can simply start typing “orbiter” and then press TAB on your keyboard and it will automatically fill in the rest.

In case you downloaded the additional texture archives, don’t close the terminal, but use the following commands for the rest of the archives:

If you are asked if you want to overwrite files when extracting the additional texture archives, you can safely do so. Orbiter comes with some basic textures, and some of these optional archives simply replace the default texture files.

Finally, extract the Directx9 graphics client, still in the same terminal

Note: The version numbers may change if they release new versions, so you should check the files you downloaded in case my guide is not up to date with the most recent releases.

Now you can close the terminal window and go back to the main PlayOnLinux window. Click on ‘Configure’, it does not matter what game shortcut is selected when you click ‘Configure’ so don’t worry about that.

On the left side, find the virtual drive which we named “orbiter” and select it. Then click on the “Display” tab and change ‘Video memory size’ to reflect your GPU memory. Reference my screenshot above if needed. Keep in mind that it is very important that you select “orbiter” in the left side before perform the other steps.

By this point, Orbiter is actually fully playable, however without sound it is quite boring, so let us install those add-ons now.

Click on the ‘Miscellaneous’ tab, and click on “Run a .exe in this virtual drive”

When it asks for what file to run, browse to the Orbiter_files directory in your home folder, and find the installer for Orbiter Sound. At the time of writing the exact version name is: OrbiterSound40_20121120_setup.exe

When you run it, it will ask for your Orbiter folder. Click on ‘Browse’

Expand “My computer”, then expand “C:” and select the folder named “Orbiter” and click “Ok”

Now you can click “Install Orbiter Sound 4.0”

Once the installation is complete, exit the installer. Back at the “Miscellaneous” tab, click to run another .exe in this virtual drive. This time select the installer for Delta Glider IV, at the time of writing named: DeltaGliderIV-3_2010_20140109.exe

Same as with the Orbiter Sound installer, you need to select your Orbiter folder first, then simply Install it.

When it asks you to patch outdated UMmu dll, just click on “No” since this is only required if you have already installed older add-ons. Then exit the installer when done.

Click to run another .exe in this virtual drive and select the installer for UCGO 2.5, currently named: UCGO25_2010_20140109.exe

This works just like the other installers, select the Orbiter folder and click Install, and click No when it asks you to patch outdated UMmu. Exit when it is done installing.

Now select the “General” tab, and click “Make a new shortcut from this virtual drive”

Find “Orbiter_ng.exe” and select it. This is not the default Orbiter executable, but the “no graphics” executable which let you choose an external graphics client, like the D3D9 client we downloaded. You can simply name this shortcut “Orbiter”

Next make a shortcut for “Dg4config.exe”, this is the configuration utility for the Delta Glider IV, it lets you set fuel amount, and oxygen reserves. The default settings will NOT last a trip to Mars for example, so this is useful to specify for certain trips. It is useful to prefix the name of this shortcut with “Orbiter – ” so that it will be listed by the Orbiter shortcut in PlayOnLinux.

Lastly, make a shortcut for “SoundConfig.exe”, this is the utility which let you change sound settings. You should also prefix the name for this shortcut with “Orbiter – ” to make it appear by the Orbiter shortcut in PlayOnLinux.

Lastly select “I don’t want to make another shortcut” and click on Next

Now you can close the “Config” window, and launch Orbiter Sound from PlayOnLinux. You will see this

There is no need to change anything in particular. Personally I prefer no mp3 playing, so I just change that. When you are done with this, just click “Save and exit”

If you launch the DeltaGlider IV config, then you will see this

You may want to avoid touching too much here until after you’ve tried it a bit and know what you want to change. The settings here are only for the DeltaGlider IV ship, and does not affect any other ship.

Now you can play Orbiter. When you launch the shortcut, you will see the Orbiter launcher. First you should click on “Parameters” on the left side. Here you can set realism. Make sure to deselect “Focus follow mouse” because it is not very clear in wine what window is in focus, and it has a tendency to suddenly hide a dialog window you don’t want it to hide. You should also change “MFD refresh (sec)” to a small number, like in my screenshot. Otherwise instrument panels will update slowly which might make it difficult to perform precise course corrections.

Next click on the “Visual effects” tab. Here you can define visuals. I would suggest to keep “Ambient light level” on something low like 10. Otherwise you will not have true night and dark side of planets. For Celestial Sphere Background, I will strongly suggest selecting the “Visible (DSS2/Wikisky)” and setting Intensity to 20. This combined with the settings for “Stars” as in I have in my previous screenshot will give a very nice looking sky.

Now select the “Modules” tab and click “Expand all”, now you should select the following


Transx is a very useful tool for planning interplanetary trips, and I really consider it a must as the other basic tools available really are not up to the job.

ScnEditor allows you to add ships while running Orbiter, or remove ships, or simply place a ship on another planet in case you simply want to experiment a bit.

Now select “Video”. Make sure you have selected to run the game in a Window. You can set fixed aspect ratio for your screen. In any case, make sure you set the window resolution to the same as your desktop resolution to make it appear almost fullscreen.

GDI compatibility should not be needed. Older wine versions would not draw the MFD displays in Orbiter without this option, but it appears to work correctly on newer wine versions so there is no need to select this option.

Now click on “Advanced” in the “Video” tab. There is really only one thing you need to do here. Click on “Create symbolic links”, it might indicate an error when you do it, but according to my testing, things appear to work well. At least Orbiter does not complain about the missing symbolic links when you start it.

You may also wish to set anti-aliasing and anisitropic filtering to levels that you feel your hardware can handle. Anti-aliasing in particular is a demanding option, and you may wish to set it low or off if you don’t have a powerful GPU.

Click “Ok” to close the window.

Now select the “Scenarios” tab, and find a scenario you would like to try. You press ‘F4’ on your keyboard to bring up the in-game menu, which you use to exit the game. You should always Exit the launcher too after stopping playing, even if you intend to try another scenario, because it has a tendency to crash under wine when running several games from the same launcher.

There are many add-ons for Orbiter. Since Orbiter is a windows-only program, the add-ons are stored in archives created in Windows. Sometimes you may encounter problems when extracting the contents of archives and the following example will provide a solution to such a problem that may arise. We are going to download and install the XR fleet.

You can find the XR fleet here: Altea Aerospace downloads

Download all three ships, the XR5, XR2 and the Delta Glider XR1. Be sure to place the downloaded zip archives in the Orbiter_files folder as you can follow this guide to the letter.

These archives are stored with windows specific paths, that means that unpacking them using 7zip on Linux will not result in files being placed in their proper sub-directories, but instead having weird file names that include the directory structure. to circumvent this, simply unpack the archives with the unzip command.

Now, open a terminal and type the following

Now the version number for the DeltaGliderXR1 archive may change if the developer updates it, so check with the actual name of your downloaded archive.

In the same terminal, go ahead and type:

You may be asked if you want to overwrite already existing files, you may safely do so as these are files that all the XR ships use. Now extract the last XR5 ship:

Again, simply select to overwrite files when prompted.

You now have the very detailed XR fleet available to use in Orbiter. These ships focus a lot on realism, and even include some basic autopilots that can make planetary reentry easier, as well as landings on bodies without oxygen.

Orbiter is made for people willing to spend a bit of time to learn about orbital mechanics, and it really is required to read the documentation to get a proper understanding of how it works and what you can actually do. To access all the documentation, open your home folder, then navigate to:

PlayOnLinux’s virtual drives/orbiter/drive_c/Orbiter/Doc

There you will find documentation for Orbiter, for TransX, DeltaGliderIV, the XR fleet and some of the stock vessels.

If you would like a much easier introduction to orbital mechanics, and explained in easier terms, then I would suggest having a look at this free ebook written as a beginners guide to Orbiter: Go Play In Space

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Author Topic: Orbiter Space Flight Simulator (Martin Schweiger)

Posts: 59
From: Meadville, PA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 12-17-2005 12:01 PM There is a free for non-commercial use space simulator: Orbiter.

It requires Windows, a decent 3D graphics card (in general the $50 to $79 Geforce and ATI cards will cut it). It uses DirectX for graphics. Screenshots can be seen here.

In the upcoming release the level 10 textures are detailed enough to identify lakes around your hometown that are a couple of miles in size.

The most comprehensive download sites are Orbit Hangar Mods and Orbit Mods. The latter are where the really large add-ons.

Orbiter is a general purpose space simulator where you can fly a variety of historical, semi-realistic, and science fiction space craft. It is a simulator not a game.

My own addons are here and include a Project Mercury that is accurate down to the switch. And the ongoing Project Gemini which is currently be developed to be switch accurate.

Another team is also creating a switch accurate model of Apollo.

While not as detailed as the simulators that NASA uses the physics are accurate enough that we had several people successfully duplicate the mission plans of Apollo, and others down to the second.

To help the learning curve many add-ons have guidance control that will take you into orbit. (My own Project Mercury and Gemini do this) There are add-ons available that will guide any other add-on rocket into orbit.

Posts: 59
From: Meadville, PA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 05-04-2006 09:09 PM New Release:

    Improved planetary surface rendering: Planets can now be rendered at twice the resolution of the previous version. In low orbits and close to the surface, this provides a significant improvement in visual appearance. Other new features include “specular ripples” on ocean surfaces, and better coastline transitions.

Flight recorder and playback function : Simulations can now be recorded and replayed. Together with the option of annotating recorded flights, this opens a new dimension for demonstrations and tutorials. Several annotated tutorial recordings are included.

Scenario editor: A new editor module allows to create, edit and delete spacecraft in a running simulation. Creating scenarios is now much easier.

Visual helpers: Force vectors and coordinate axes for vessels can now be shown directly in the simulation window.

External MFDs : Multifunctional displays can now be opened in separate windows. They provide more information, and are also available in external views.

Mouse-active Glass Cockpit : The generic “glass cockpit” view now includes buttons for MFDs and most common operations, so even ships which lack custom instrument panels can be operated without memorizing many key commands.

Enhanced lighting effects : Spacecraft can now enter a planet’s shadow. Support for light beacons has been added to help find them in the dark.

  • Improved physics : Gravity-gradient torque effects are now implemented. Vessels in low orbit will now experience torques as a result of their mass distribution. Orbiter’s model of angular motion has also been extensively overhauled.

  • A more detailed list of new features can be found in the Change Log.

    Key features

    • Realistic physics. Planetary motion, gravitation effects, free space and atmospheric flight are accurately modelled.
    • You can land your ship at a space port on a planet surface, or dock to an orbital station.
    • High resolution planetary maps provide some nice visual effects.
    • Configurable environment. Users can add planets, space ships and space stations to the existing universe, or design a completely new solar system from scratch. The Orbiter Software Development Kit contains libraries and sample C++ code for addon developers who want to write plugins.

    Posts: 59
    From: Meadville, PA
    Registered: Jun 2005

    posted 05-10-2006 08:40 AM Overview of Orbiter and its add-ons:

    Orbiter is a realistic and accurate simulation of orbital and atmospheric physics. It is written by Dr. Martin Schweiger of London England. It a general purpose simulation in which you can setup nearly scenario you want in the Solar System or even a custom built solar system.

    Most this configuration is accomplished through text files editable in Notepad. Orbiter physic engine also has an emphasis on visual beauty. High Resolution Textures, Clouds, Shadows, Sun glare, Atmospheric Shading are all supported in Orbiter.

    Orbiter comes with the space shuttle, and a set of high powered spacecraft that while don’t exist are plausible. The Deltaglider is similar to the Space Shuttle, the Shuttle-A is designed for use in traveling in space, and the Dragonfly is a space tug for orbital work. All three support cockpits with switches and system. Orbiter supports add-on spacecrafts, modules, and planets through the use of text config file and/or a C++ programming API.

    Downloads are divided into a Base Package, a Software Development Kit package, and series of high resolution planetary textures for our solar System. The software is free to download and use for non-commerical purposes. The most comprehensive site for Orbiter Add-ons is here.

    I am the maintainer and a developer of Project Mercury for Orbiter and the Project Gemini for Orbiter add-ons. In addition I support the development of Project Apollo for Orbiter (NASSP).

    The goal of these add-ons is to create a highly accurate simulation of the historical NASA spacecraft of the 1960s. This includes setting up every switch, dial, and knob to work as they did in the original NASA craft. The ultimate goal is that you could use the historical flight documentation to fly the original flight themselves or create your own missions.

    Currently Project Mercury for Orbiter is the most complete simulation of the three. Project Apollo for Orbiter is in the middle of a massive update that will see nearly every panel and system working. This includes a simulation of the CSM and LEM Guidance Computers running the actual code that was used during Project Apollo. Project Gemini is being updated to the level of the first two project. These three are open-source projects with the source code available for anybody to look underneath the hood or to improve.

    Also recommended is Earth 1962 which setup up an alternative Earth for Orbiter that mimics the state of rocket facilities as they were in the 1960’s.

    There another Project Apollo called ASMO that add-on has the same physical parameters as the NASSP version but used the orbiter controls to fly the spacecraft. This makes it considerably easier to fly the craft for the novice.

    I recommend you fly the more sophisticated add-ons in the same order that NASA flew them; Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. The Mercury capsule can run any part of the mission automatically leaving it to you to decide when to take over control. Gemini and Apollo add-ons will fly into orbit automatically but they are much more hand-ons once you are there. Apollo is considerably more complex than Gemini. Gemini will allow you to practice maneuvering in orbit, rendezvous, and docking.

    All of these add-ons come with extensive documentation, along with links to historical document.

    Posts: 2272
    From: Bellevue, NE, USA
    Registered: Aug 2007

    posted 01-08-2008 09:50 PM You want a real thrill, try managing a landing of a shuttle from orbit down to the runway WITHOUT any of the computer aids and doing it manually. I did it once in one of the earlier Orbiter versions and it was tough! But it was not impossible.

    I also remember when the Cosmosphere had a set of shuttle landing simulators set up where you could do “Easy” “Student Pilot” or “No Fear” level approaches to KSC, Edwards or one of the TAL sites. The No Fear one was fun as you get hit with a nasty crosswind right at the flare point to final. The Cosmosphere no longer has them though, which is a pity as I spent many minutes perfecting my own approach techniques on them. But, my local museum has one of the sims on display as part of the Clay Anderson exhibit and it is a lot of fun to do when you get the hang of it.

    Posts: 59
    From: Meadville, PA
    Registered: Jun 2005

    posted 01-09-2008 12:54 PM

    quote: Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
    You want a real thrill, try managing a landing of a shuttle from orbit down to the runway WITHOUT any of the computer aids and doing it manually.

    Gemini used a lifting capsule for it’s re-entry so it had the capability to be steered within a several hundred mile foot print.

    To see if I got the math right I had to fly many many re-entries.

    OK roll right for 30 seconds. Now to the left for 25 seconds, now back to the right for 35 seconds. (Reaches for a sip of coke) Now heads down for 15 seconds and on and on and on.

    Never managed a manual shuttle re-entry on my own yet though.

    Posts: 370
    From: Wales, UK
    Registered: Dec 2004

    posted 11-20-2012 09:23 AM I have been putting together full mission videos of historic space flights using OSS as a visual tool. The latest are Apollo 13 and Gemini 3. I have also done MA6 and MR3 and 4.

    Posts: 3398
    From: London, UK
    Registered: Feb 2002

    posted 11-20-2012 09:23 AM Nice work. I look forward to working my way through these. Your Neil Armstrong tribute was very poignant as well. Keep ’em coming!

    Posts: 370
    From: Wales, UK
    Registered: Dec 2004

    posted 11-20-2012 09:29 AM Thanks for that – I really do appreciate the kind words!

    Posts: 281
    From: Belleville, IL
    Registered: Jun 2011

    posted 11-20-2012 07:46 PM Just watched Apollo 13 and Gemini 3. Both very good. Nice work. Hey, maybe your next project could be the entire 14 day Gemini 7 mission! Am I kidding? No,not really.

    Posts: 370
    From: Wales, UK
    Registered: Dec 2004

    posted 11-21-2012 02:46 AM Well theres a thought! I want to complete the Apollo 13 series first and then Apollo 10 is next. Gemini 3 will be complete in the next few weeks!

    I shall put Gemini 7 on the list!

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    Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a

    Orbiter space flight simulator


    Orbiter is a freeware space flight simulator created by Martin Schweiger, Ph. D., of the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at University College London. The most current stable version is Orbiter 2016.


    Structure [ edit ]

    Orbiter is a physics simulator which uses Newtonian physics to simulate the behaviour of spacecraft & other objects within our solar system. While somewhat vulnerable to crashes caused by add-ons or extreme simulation demands, Orbiter is generally quite stable when used properly. Orbiters file structure consists of configuration files, help files, meshes, textures and modules which are integrated by the main executable Orbiter.exe. This very flexible architecture makes addon development for Orbiter relatively easy.

    System Requirements [ edit ]

    The standard ORBITER distribution requires the following minimum hardware features:

    • 600 MHz PC or better (Pentium, Athlon, etc.)
    • 256 MB RAM or more
    • Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP
    • DirectX 7.0 or higher
    • DirectX compatible 3D graphics accelerator card with at least 16MB of video RAM (32MB or more recommended) and DXT texture compression support
    • Approximately 100MB of free disk space for the minimum installation (additional high-resolution textures and add-ons will require more space).
    • DirectX compatible joystick (optional)

    Installing high-resolution texture packs or add-ons may have an impact on performance and could require significantly higher computing specs.

    The default solar system [ edit ]

    The default solar system includes all known planets (except the dwarf planets) and the major moons. Most planets are equipped with a ephemeris module, which calculates the position of the celestial bodies to very high accuracy, making it possible to simulate historic space missions by using nearly the same manoeuvres as in reality.

    Also included in the basic Orbiter distribution are several spaceports, where players can refuel their spacecraft:

    For a complete list of the bases included with the Orbiter distribution, see the Surface bases article.

    Standard Spacecraft [ edit ]

    In spite of its destruction in reality, Mir is placed in an alternative orbit making it a possible start for interplanetary missions.

    Installation Instructions [ edit ]

    The Orbiter install with two methods: The MSI and the ZIP method. The MSI (Microsoft installer) method installs Orbiter like a normal Windows application. Just run the MSI file to start the interactive installation process. This method will automatically create a desktop shortcut and start menu entry, including an uninstall option. This method is easy to use, but a bit more restrictive. Manual ZIP file extraction is the traditional method for Orbiter installation. Download the ZIP file, create an Orbiter folder, and extract the contents of the ZIP file into the folder. That’s all, and you are ready to launch orbiter.exe. This method is non-intrusive (it doesn’t change the registry or system resources), allows multiple copies of Orbiter on a single system, and can be uninstalled by simply deleting the Orbiter folder.

    Optional Texture Packs [ edit ]

    Optional texture packs provide high-resolution surface textures for planets and moons included within Orbiter distribution. This will improve the visual appearance in many situations, but requires more computing power and a lot of hard disk space.

    The Space Review: Orbiter 2016 and other space flight simulators

    Orbiter 2016 and other space flight simulators

    by Bruce Irving
    Monday, October 31, 2016

    More than ten years ago, The Space Review published my enthusiastic review of a freeware space flight simulator called Orbiter (see “Review: Orbiter space flight simulator”, The Space Review, November 14, 2005). In the intervening years, Orbiter development has continued, and the 2016 version was recently released. Many things have changed since 2005: for example, smartphones and tablets now exist, and I’ve become a grandfather. But I remain a space and flight simulator enthusiast, happy that Dr. Martin Schweiger is still working on Orbiter. The Orbiter community also remains strong, creating add-ons, tutorials, and videos, and supporting one another through the Orbiter Forum and other sites. I’m also pleased that there are more options for space sim fans, and I will briefly discuss two of them I have tried, Kerbal Space Program (KSP), and a tablet-based app called Space Simulator by Brixton Dynamics.

    Although it is fun and challenging in many ways, Orbiter 2016 truly is a space flight simulation, or what some might now call a “sandbox game.”

    Most of what I wrote about Orbiter in 2005 remains true in the latest version: it’s free, runs on Windows PCs, accurately models the physics of space and atmospheric flight, uses clever time acceleration to allow even long journeys in a realistically scaled solar system, supports a wide array of add-on spacecraft, and much more. So I won’t repeat all of those details here. Instead I will focus on discussing where Orbiter fits in a world where there are so many more gaming, simulation, and educational “solutions” and platforms than we had in 2005, as well as on the cumulative improvements from three major updates in 2006, 2010, and 2016.

    Although it is fun and challenging in many ways, Orbiter 2016 truly is a space flight simulation, or what some might now call a “sandbox game.” In its level of detail and learning curve, it is something like Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane, where the “game” is mainly the challenge of learning to fly, or of mastering advanced skills such as instrument approaches. Orbiter too supports atmospheric flight, but with the major addition of space flight with accurate orbital mechanics. There is plenty to learn and do, but there are no requirements, characters, weapons, or scores, only the unforgiving rules of Newtonian physics, a wide range of tools and techniques to master, and the full solar system to explore. Learning to launch a spacecraft to orbit, dock with the ISS, land on the Moon, or navigate to Mars: all of this, and more, is possible in Orbiter. You can choose from a variety of built-in spacecraft and scenarios, download and fly add-on spacecraft and scenarios, or even design and fly your own spacecraft, although doing so requires some external tools. There is no “rocket builder” mode as there is in KSP.


    One broad area of improvement since 2005 is in the user interface. Although the PC keyboard remains nearly indispensable for controlling engines and thrusters in Orbiter (joysticks are also supported), you can now do much more with mouse-based on-screen controls, making it easier to learn, and easier to work with add-on spacecraft, many of which lack dedicated cockpit graphics and controls.

    Orbiter has always had beautiful graphics, but the biggest visible change in Orbiter 2016 is its support for detailed 3D surface terrain for the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and several other solar system bodies.

    The flight recorder is a great learning feature that was added in 2006 and improved in later releases. It’s not a video recorder, but an event recorder, such that when you record and play back a flight within Orbiter, all the control inputs, flight paths, and forces are recreated, allowing you to interrupt the playback and take over control of the flight at any time. This is useful for recording and studying your own progress, but it is especially great for recorded tutorial flights which feature detailed on-screen annotations to explain what is happening. Several of these “live” tutorials are included with Orbiter.


    Orbiter includes a number of default spacecraft, including the late, great shuttle Atlantis and the powerful but still physically limited “Delta Glider,” a futuristic spaceplane. It also includes all the instruments you need to control and navigate your spacecraft through configurable multi-function displays (MFDs). But much of the fun of Orbiter comes in the form of optional (and always free) “add-ons” created by volunteer developers in the Orbiter community. Add-on spacecraft range from historic to contemporary to futuristic and even include fictional spacecraft from popular space movies. One notable example is called AMSO: it recreates the Apollo Program in astounding detail. Non-spacecraft add-ons provide MFDs for many tasks, including interplanetary flight planning. And while space may be silent, rocket boosters and cockpits generally are not. Orbiter Sound is an essential add-on to complete the Orbiter experience.

    Note that when there is a major update to Orbiter, some add-ons may not work completely (or at all) until their authors update them for the new version. Of course there is no obligation for any volunteer developer to do this, although many do. Many users keep previous Orbiter versions installed to access add-ons that may not yet be available for the latest version. While there are some differences, it’s not hard to switch between the 2010 and 2016 versions, depending on what you wish to do.

    Full 3D terrain

    Orbiter has always had beautiful graphics, but the biggest visible change in Orbiter 2016 is its support for detailed 3D surface terrain for the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and several other solar system bodies. In previous versions, all planets and moons are perfectly smooth, with surface features “painted on.” This is hardly noticeable from a 300-kilometer orbit, but when you are flying or orbiting down low, it’s great to have realistic mountains and valleys to fly around and through. While the Earth terrain is nice, I especially enjoy zooming low over the accurate terrain of the Moon and Mars. It makes me feel like an Apollo astronaut. It’s also the best Moon or Mars globe you will ever own, because you can fly around and virtually explore the terrain (with labels if you like), not just look at it. The only cost for all this added beauty is the time it takes to download gigabytes of terrain data. I should also point out that to experience the best looking graphics and the best frame rates, you should use the so-called “no graphics” version of Orbiter that links to a separate “graphics client” that maintains the display.

    Climbing the learning curve

    With its many playful touches and multiple play modes, KSP is as much a game as a simulation, and as such, it certainly appeals to people of many backgrounds and ages. It’s not easy to master, but it’s lots of fun.

    There is a lot to learn before you can plan a flight to the space station, the Moon, or Europa. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources to help you. Orbiter comes with a manual and with several pre-recorded and annotated training flights that represent a good starting point. My own free tutorial ebook Go Play In Space is written for the 2006 version, but much of it remains relevant for all versions (a Wiki version is here). There are also many excellent tutorial videos available through YouTube, notably those of David Courtney and TexFilms. These videos can help you get started and some will walk you through advanced interplanetary flights complete with gravitational slingshots. The Orbiter Forum is the best place to find out about tutorials and everything else about Orbiter.

    Kerbal Space Program

    In the last few years, Kerbal Space Program (KSP) has emerged as a popular way to “play in space.” How does it compare with Orbiter? KSP is simpler than Orbiter in some respects, and more comprehensive in others. It operates in a reduced-scale alternative solar system where real Newtonian physics still rules but where “Kerbin” is much smaller than Earth and the “Mun” is much closer than the Earth’s Moon. It has cartoon-like graphics and characters (“Kerbals”) to pilot the spacecraft you build. That is one of the biggest differences: in KSP, you have a great drag-and-drop 3D rocket-building workshop. There, you can construct simple or fantastically complex spacecraft and have your Kerbals risk their lives on your test flights while you learn to fly to orbit, reach the Mun, and achieve other goals. In KSP, rockets can explode or crash and Kerbals can die (while some add-on spacecraft for Orbiter feature damage modeling, simulated crews, and life-support issues, most Orbiter spacecraft just bounce when they crash). There are many tutorials and videos for KSP and a lot of enthusiastic players. With its many playful touches and multiple play modes, KSP is as much a game as a simulation, and as such, it certainly appeals to people of many backgrounds and ages. It’s not easy to master, but it’s lots of fun. KSP is also flexible and expandable, so while it might serve as a valuable and fun “Orbiter training camp” for some space enthusiasts, many others will continue to find plenty of fun and challenges in KSP.

    Space Simulator (iOS)

    I’m always on the lookout for space-related apps and games for the iPad, although with the exception of FSim Space Shuttle (landing simulation), most have fallen short for me. Space Simulator by Brixton Dynamics is an exception. It is a true solar system space flight simulation, similar in many respects to Orbiter. It features a variety of built in spacecraft, some of them historic (Apollo, X-15, Space Shuttle) and some futuristic (NASA’s Space Launch System and fictional craft from 2001: A Space Odyssey). The graphics are beautiful and the physics models seem to be quite heavy duty, but I have found the touch-screen interface to be awkward to use at times. Like Orbiter, it has cockpit and external views and uses configurable MFDs to display orbital information and to plan maneuvers. But with no keyboard or joystick, the screen can feel cluttered and the “workflow” seems unclear. But the program is improving quickly and I’m sure these user interface issues will be solved. It’s already the most powerful space flight simulation I have seen for the iPad, and it is definitely cool to tap VERB 37 NOUN 11 ENTER (launch autopilot) on a virtual DSKY and see and hear the majestic Saturn V send Apollo 11 into Earth orbit en route to the Moon, while I am en route to Beijing (headphones recommended.)


    Space flight simulation is not exactly a mainstream area for computer gaming, but fortunately there are a few options for space enthusiasts who wish to move beyond books, movies, and websites. Orbiter 2016 is an educational experience with beautiful graphics, practically a dynamic coffee-table space book—with rocket engines. Kerbal Space Program has a playful vibe and a somewhat gentler learning curve but can still teach you a lot about physics while you have fun building and flying your own rockets. Space Simulator is pretty close to “Orbiter for iPad,” and while it is not free, it’s an app, so it’s pretty close to free.

    Bruce Irving (bruceirvingmusic [at] pobox [dot] com) is an optical engineer, lapsed private pilot, and space flight enthusiast. He is the author of a tutorial ebook for Orbiter, Go Play In Space . His blog “Music of the Spheres” discusses Orbiter, space issues, music, and other things.

    Orbiter 2016 Space Flight Simulator

    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2016 Edition

    Explore the solar system on your PC!

    Fed up with space games that insult your intelligence and violate every law of physics? Orbiter is a simulator that gives you an idea what space flight really feels like – today and in the not so distant future. And best of all: you can download it for free!

    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2016 Edition

    Explore the solar system on your PC!

    Fed up with space games that insult your intelligence and violate every law of physics? Orbiter is a simulator that gives you an idea what space flight really feels like – today and in the not so distant future. And best of all: you can download it for free!

    Launch the Space Shuttle from Kennedy Space Center and rendezvous with the International Space Station.

    Recreate historic flights with addon spacecraft packages: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Vostok and more.

    Plan interplanetary slingshots and tour the solar system with futuristic spacecraft.

    Find and explore new worlds. Orbiter contains high-resolution models of many celestial bodies.

    Design your own rockets, or download addons created by other users.

    Learn about the concepts of space flight and orbital mechanics by playing and experimenting.

    You are the commander of your spacecraft. Welcome to the flight deck!

    Planetary bodies now support terrain elevation maps for modelling mountain ranges.

    Write your own Orbiter plugin modules, and learn the basics of C++ programming along the way.

    Realistic Space Flight Simulator

    Orbiter space flight simulator

    I really love space flight simulators I have tried many of them, Have you ever tried this:

    you may download the free demo here:

    Is there any chance that Orbiter could be something like that in the future?
    it also support virtual reality devices, so the experience is quite equal as the astronauts lived, maybe people forgot that those that were inside the cockpits were astronauts, so the focus of simulation is totally wrong! this should not be space flight controllers simulators, but astronauts simulators, since those guys are the ones who really went into space, not the flight controllers, so an astronaut simulator should not be about making calculation and using mfd, since it is not in that way!

    For me it is all about MFD’s and calculations.
    I learn a lot of it.
    Flying the scenarios and doing first steps in vessel making.

    Then with the help of MFD’s and Meshes, the realism is created by my imagination.
    And this is good.

    Orbiter and SpaceEngine are all I need. Both of these packages benefit from continued ongoing development, are labors of love, are free, customizable, and have big sandboxes.

    With Orbiter there are even more things like an established community and a bevy of sophisticated add-ons.

    It’s really incredible the number of different space and astronomy simulations that are out there, available or in development, free and otherwise. There’s something for everybody it seems. I had never heard of “Go For Launch” and with hyper-realistic cockpits and VR support, it might be missing only G forces (zero and otherwise) to recreate the astronaut experience, although Mercury is a pretty limited spacecraft and mission (albeit with lots of switches). I also never heard of Space Engine but it looks cool, more like a modern, VR-ready version of Celestia than a space flight sim. Something like a super-detailed astronomy program with a magic carpet for flying anywhere you like. Looks cool. I will check it out. I’ve also been seeing screen shots on Facebook of a new “Space Simulator” (space-simulator.com) which I have on iPad. The Steam version (PC/Mac I guess) is in development and the Apollo and Shuttle interiors look amazing. It does follow closely the space FLIGHT simulation model of Orbiter (and even the MFD model, which works only so-so on iPad).

    So let a thousand space sims bloom! The only problem is finding time to play with (or even look at or think about) them. So I keep coming back to Orbiter in which I at least know how to do some things, and with the 2016 version and D3D9, it still looks pretty great. I can wait a few years for VR.

    I suppose ‘realistic’ is the most overused word in simulator advertisements. An iPad doesn’t even have the input devices for a realistic simulation of anything.

    The thing is also – hardly anybody actually wants to use a realistic simulation of, say, a Space Shuttle. Given how many Orbiter users I’ve seen complain how hard it is to learn SSU (and I’m talking about a community who knows the basics of spaceflight and orbital mechanics, not some random iPhone user looking for a game), a realistic simulation is even a few steps up.

    You need to at least work through

    2000 pages of Manual and Workbooks before you have an idea how to operate a real Space Shuttle. And I don’t mean read – I really mean work through. There’s a reason why people got a few years of training before flying it.

    Now imagine it all on your iPhone, trying to somehow click the correct seequence of buttons in a time-critical situation, or trying to gain some situational awareness on the tiny display.

    Oh really?

    I suppose ‘realistic’ is the most overused word in simulator advertisements. An iPad doesn’t even have the input devices for a realistic simulation of anything.

    The thing is also – hardly anybody actually wants to use a realistic simulation of, say, a Space Shuttle. Given how many Orbiter users I’ve seen complain how hard it is to learn SSU (and I’m talking about a community who knows the basics of spaceflight and orbital mechanics, not some random iPhone user looking for a game), a realistic simulation is even a few steps up.

    You need to at least work through

    2000 pages of Manual and Workbooks before you have an idea how to operate a real Space Shuttle. And I don’t mean read – I really mean work through. There’s a reason why people got a few years of training before flying it.

    Now imagine it all on your iPhone, trying to somehow click the correct seequence of buttons in a time-critical situation, or trying to gain some situational awareness on the tiny display.

    I think you’re confusing “realistic” (as in, grounded in reality, using real physics, etc) with what are known as “study sims” where all features of the operation of a vehicle are modelled down to the smallest detail.

    In order to be a study sim, something must be realistic, but something doesn’t need to be a study sim in order to be realistic, as you seem to think.

    I don’t think I am confusing anything here. At dictionary.com we get the definition of ‘realistic’ as

    resembling or simulating real life:

    depicting or emphasizing what is real and actual rather than abstract or ideal

    which doesn’t really say ‘realistic physics only, ignore other aspects’. I’ve been coding in a flightsim environment for many years now, and I’ve never heard anyone make the distinction you’re trying to make.

    There’s also an obvious relationship – simulating real physics drives the need to have certain instrumentation aboard and to do certain procedures much as it works in reality.

    In a simulation in which your spacecraft is ‘always thermally conditioned’ and propellant can never freeze, you never need to operate heating elements. In a simulation in which the physics works out correctly, propellant will freeze unless thermally conditioned, and so you need heaters with their respective controls.

    If the inertia computation in the simulation is done by summing all masses in the CoG and faking the inertia tensor, you never need to do trim procedures – if the simulation is done correctly, you need things like trim, propellant dump.

    If radio signals always propagate perfectly and inertial units never drift, you don’t need to bother with operating navigation equipment much – if their correct physics is implemented and inertial guidance drifts, you need to actually operate receivers correctly to pick up signals etc.

    Real spacecraft are complicated because real physics makes them so – so you can’t somehow de-correlate grounding in reality and instrumentation/operation as you seem to think.

    I guess there’s two different concepts at play – immersion and realism.

    Immersion has to do with how real a scene feels to the user – it doesn’t have to be realistic, immersion into a game with made-up physics can be excellent. Most often it’s driven by a combination of good graphics, compelling sounds, lack of artifacts like lags or hickups and the right hardware (think cockpit hardware building) – I’ve seen Flightgear once on a rig with 9 monitors driven by several graphics cards with a real cockpit panel linked to the controls, and the fact that you suddenly see scene in peripheral vision makes a lot of difference. There’s even some devices capable of mocking up something like g-forces. And moving elephants probably help with immersion.

    In contrast, realism is usually taken to refer to closeness of flight dynamics, operating procedures etc. to reality. FAA approved IFR training software for instance usually has a low degree of immersion but a high degree of realism – the pilot should be able to train the right procedures and get realistic response of the simulation to getting things wrong, but it’s not required that the graphics looks particularly compelling.

    The over-usage of ‘realism’ in simulator descriptions is imo an advertisement trick – who wouldn’t rather be the guy who can say ‘I can land a Space Shuttle in this realistic simulation’ than the guy who can say ‘I can land this thing that really looks like a Space Shuttle in this cool arcade game with simplified flight dynamics’ ?

    It’s a common theme – there’s far more people who want to be able to (or at least be able to claim to) do something than to learn something.

    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator for Windows

    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator for Windows

    Rated 4 out of 5 stars by 27 PRO members.

    Orbiter is a unique flight simulator that lets users launch manned or unmanned flights into space. They can dock with space stations, repair satellites, and land on planets. The vast reaches of our solar system are open for Orbiter fans to explore. The system lets users compress time to shorten long adventures.

    Space flight is accurately modeled; past missions can be recreated and new projects planned and launched. Pilots can spend hours launching payloads from Kennedy Space Center, visiting the International Space Center, or picking their way through the rocky rings of Saturn on a Delta-glider.

    This is not a demo, it is a completely free (freeware) fully featured simulator.

    New Version

    This package has now been updated to the latest version (2016) edition. This is the latest version released by the developer and also works with the latest version of Windows 10. The package is quite a bit larger than the original release.

    Shows the Nasa Space Shuttle in orbit over the Earth in the latest version of the Orbiter space flight simulator for Windows.

    Orbiter was created in 2000 by developer Martin Schweiger. At the time, he wanted a simulator that accurately reflected physics-oriented flight modeling. The most recent version was released in August of 2010. Orbiter is freeware, not open-source. The core code cannot be altered. However, developers can create add-ons like new spacecraft using the Orbiter Software Development Kit. It provides code libraries, sample code, utilities and documentation needed to produce original designs. There is a special add-on forum at the Orbiter site to help programmers get started on the right foot.

    An excellent teaching tool, Orbiter is used by many science, math, and technology classes to help illustrate diverse subjects from space flight to trigonometry. To get the most out of Orbiter, it helps to have some knowledge of orbital mechanics. Robert A. Braeunig’s Rocket and Space Technology website (http://www.braeunig.us/space/index.htm) is designed for space travel aficionados who desire to learn more than the basics but want to avoid complex concepts and theories.

    Information for the Orbiter Wiki page:

    Orbiter is a freeware space flight simulator program developed to allow users to operate simulated spacecraft using a detailed and realistic flight model. The developer, Martin Schweiger, felt that space flight simulators at the time were lacking in realistic physics based flight models and decided to write a simulator that made learning physics concepts enjoyable.

    The simulator was first released on 27 November 2000 and several new versions have been released, with the most recent version 100830 released for free download on 30 August 2010.

    Orbiter has now been used as a teaching aid in classrooms, and a large community of add-on developers has created a multitude of add-ons to allow users to fly assorted real and fictional spacecraft and adding new planets or solar systems.

    Orbiter incorporates planetary motion, space physics, and gravitation. Users will find it takes some experimentation to get used to how these dynamics affect space travel. Once mastered, navigation becomes smoother and easier.


    Orbiter has both realistic and fictional spacecraft. Newer users find the fictional craft easier to pilot. They are also able to travel to distant parts of the solar system conventional vehicles cannot reach. The solar system consists of the sun, planets and large moons. The core product has no comets or asteroids. However, they can be included with an available add-on.

    Using the keyboard or mouse, pilots interact with two Multi-function displays and one Head-Up Display. Developers can create custom controls, instruments, and virtual cockpits. Advanced players can incorporate TrackIR which allows Orbiter to follow their head movements and display the corresponding view.


    Orbiter is Windows-only software, compatible with Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista/Win7 and Windows 10. The developers recommend a minimum of 4 GB RAM. Users will also need a DirectX compatible graphics card sporting at least 64MB of memory.

    Realistic Approach

    From its inception, Orbiter was developed to be a realistic simulator. Pilots are able to experience accurate planetary motion, free space travel, gravitation, and orbital decay. Advanced planetary system models are used to portray the positions of the Earth, Moon and planets in the solar system realistically.

    Orbiter’s commitment to realism is reflected in the real spacecraft and space stations in the package. They include the Space Shuttle Atlantis, Space Station Mir, International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, and the Long Duration Exposure Facility Satellite. In addition to the real machines, Orbiter has fictional vessels including the Delta-glider space plane; Shuttle-A, a space freighter; Shuttle-PB, a small spacecraft; Dragonfly, a manned space tug; Luna-OB1, a space station inspired by the station featured in “2001: A Space Odyssey”; and Carina, a small payload satellite.

    Developers have used Orbiter’s API to create extensive add-ons including spacecraft from the American Mercury and Apollo programs as well as the Soviet Vostok series. In addition to the spacecraft and stations previously listed, users have also developed new planetary bases and entire solar systems.

    Enterprising Developers

    Some users love the multiple ways to add features missing from the core package. For example, there is no sound capability in Orbiter out of the box. Several enterprising developers created “OrbiterSound,” and add-on with engine sounds, cabin noise, radio signals, and even mp3 music.

    Other users love Orbiter’s gorgeous graphics and immersive experience. One fan said Orbiter was “closest to the old inner kid dream ‘being an astronaut’ I’ll ever be,” and provides a “sandbox the size of the solar system that let me free of doing whatever scenario I imagine.” (Orbiter-forum.com).


    The archive orbiter-2016.zip has 12 files and directories contained within it. View them

    File Contents

    This list displays the first 500 files in the package. If the package has more, you will need to download it to view them.

    Filename/Directory File Date File Size
    Orbiter2016.exe 07.01.19 2484.97 MB
    Screenshots 07.01.19 0 B
    florida2_new.jpg 07.01.19 335.71 kB
    florida5_new.jpg 07.01.19 423.88 kB
    florida6_new.jpg 07.01.19 121.74 kB
    florida9_new.jpg 07.01.19 188.81 kB
    mars_hebes_chasma.jpg 07.01.19 210.25 kB
    moon1_new.jpg 07.01.19 271.56 kB
    moon3_new.jpg 07.01.19 126.88 kB
    terrain2_new.jpg 07.01.19 264.20 kB
    flyawaysimulation.txt 10.29.13 959 B
    Go to Fly Away Simulation.url 01.22.16 52 B


    Like any flight simulation fan, I’m a big fan of trying out something new, something interesting. So, it was to my rather animated surprise that someone had finally taken aviation to a whole new level within the simulation world with the release of Orbiter.

    Rather than being able to get myself caught up in the madness of it all, though, I’ve been able to find the time to sit down and give Orbiter a real shot and see what I make of it.

    For a start, let me just say that I’m someone who spent many hours playing old-school space-based flight games for years. So I’ve always wanted to be able to take off in a proper NASA style shuttle, do some landings on satellite and even land on different planets.

    It’s this kind of amazing feature that I believe simulation has to tap into more; the vast majority (like all) of us will never set foot on another planet, so it would be nice to see it more accurately represented in flight simulation in general. So, I was delighted to finally come across this excellent simulator and give it a try myself.

    For a product that was created more than a decade ago, it’s still got really impressive graphical capacity – compare it to games that came out at the same time and it seems to stack up far better. I’ll admit that at first the controls threw me and felt a bit restricted, but this purely from being used to games of modern eras that have afar more fluid and developed control scheme.

    As a project with the budget and size it had, though, Orbiter absolutely shines through.

    It makes a mockery of typical conventions that you need a huge budget to make something impressive, as it’s taken on aspects of flight simulation that none of the big hitters have been too willing to try and get involved in.

    This is one of the best educational tools I’ve come across in terms of simulation, too. It’s got a lot going for it as it uses many different scientific classes to create something that you can actually learn from.

    This is what sets apart simulation from a game; with this, you’ll start picking up the very smallest pieces about everything involved within the rather terrifying – yet amazing – world of space flight.

    If you compare this to some of the most recent mods out there, that have tried to move into the space world bit by bit, It’s really easy to see where they get their inspiration from.

    Despite having never heard of Orbiter when I was younger, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t as it would have probably sucked me up into a time vortex of its own! It’s hugely addictive, even today with so much modern choices waiting for you.

    It might be a bit limited in comparison to its modern brethren, but in terms of what it brought to simulation as a whole, I’m not sure I’ve seen a more effective piece of hardware.

    Adam McEnroe

    Adam McEnroe is a flight sim enthusiast who has been simming since the days of FS95. Adam writes all of the download section editorials after testing each of the files. Adam has extensive knowledge using various flight simulator packages and thoroughly tests the files before writing about them. Adam also like to fly real-world aircraft in his spare time and is training for his PPL.

    Should you wish, you can contact Adam via email at [email protected].

    Installation of Add-on Aircraft/Scenery

    Most of the freeware add-on aircraft and scenery packages in our file library come with easy installation instructions which you can read above in the file description. For further installation help, please see our Knowledge Center for our full range of tutorials or view the README file contained within the download.

    Download Orbiter Space Flight Simulator

    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator

    Author: Martin Schweiger
    Date: 02/19/2017 09:30 PM
    Size: 2.4 GB
    License: Freeware
    Requires: Win 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP
    Downloads: 6864 times
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    TIP : Click Here to Repair/Restore Missing Windows Files

    Download@Authors Site
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    Orbiter Space Flight Simulator is a free hardcore space flight simulator designed to give you a real feel for what space feels like.

    Take note that this is not a game or a shooter. There are no trading stations, items to farm or anything that is game-like. Expect a steep learning curve for this simulation, but the result is worth it if you want a real, hardcore space simulation. You will spend a good amount of time learning the concepts of space flight and orbital mechanics.

    Some of the things you can do in Orbiter Space Flight Simulator include launching the Space Shuttle from Kennedy Space Center and rendezvous with the International Space Station, recreate historic flights with addon spacecraft packages, plan interplanetary slingshots and tour the solar system with futuristic spacecraft.

    You will also be able to find and explore new worlds, design your rockets or download addons created by other users, and learn about the concepts of space flight and orbital mechanics by playing and experimenting.

    We have provided torrent links due to the large file size. At 2.4+ GB this does not include the Earth, Moon, Mars and other bodies high-resolution textures. We took a quick look and estimate that all the Orbiter Space Flight Simulator high-resolution texture packs can add over 50GB to the simulation. You can download them here.

    Project Apollo – NASSP is an add-on for the Orbiter Space Flight Simulator.

    Orbiter 2006 Freeware Space Flight Simulator Released

    Orbiter space flight simulator

    Orbiter 2006 Freeware Space Flight Simulator Released

    The Orbiter 2006 Freeware Space Flight Simulator
    by Staff Writers
    London (SPX) May 10, 2006
    The release of Orbiter 2006, the latest version of this comprehensive freeware space flight simulator, has been announced. Orbiter offers accurate physics, excellent 3D graphics, astronomy features, and a first-person astronaut’s perspective. Created as an educational project by Dr. Martin Schweiger of University College London, Orbiter has been in development since 2000.

    Orbiter allows users to virtually experience many aspects of space flight, including launching to orbit, orbital maneuvering, rendezvous/docking with the International Space Station, deploying satellites from the space shuttle, and even flying to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

    It comes with several simulated spacecraft, including the space shuttle Atlantis and the futuristic “Delta Glider,” which takes off like an airplane and has sufficient fuel and power for interplanetary flights. Open architecture allows the world-wide Orbiter community to create a wide range of add-ons, hundreds of which are available on-line.

    These allow users to simulate complete Apollo missions, recreate historic exploration missions such as Voyager, try out NASA’s next generation CEV, and even fly many fictional spacecraft from movies and books.

    The 2006 version adds a number of significant new features, including an integrated “mission builder” (Scenario Editor), support for high resolution “level 10” planetary surface graphics, enhanced lighting effects, improved mouse-based user interface features, and a flight recorder (to record and play back space missions within Orbiter).

    Several annotated flight recording “movies” now supplement the tutorial features of the Orbiter PDF documentation. Additional user-written tutorials for Orbiter are also available on the web, including a free e-book called Go Play In Space.

    Orbiter is an excellent resource for space flight enthusiasts, teachers and students of astronomy and physics, and even for aerospace and media professionals who can use it to accurately and dynamically illustrate space missions. Orbiter 2006 is available for free download at several web sites linked from the main site (www.orbitersim.com), where additional information and a gallery of program screen shots are also available.

    For more information, contact Orbiter’s author, Dr. Martin Schweiger (UK, information above), or in the USA, contact Bruce Irving (MA-based author of Go Play In Space), [email protected], (508) 835-1177

    The Space Review: Review: Orbiter space flight simulator

    Review: Orbiter space flight simulator

    by Bruce Irving
    Monday, November 14, 2005

    I have to start this review with a warning and a disclosure. For anyone with an interest in space flight, the Orbiter space flight simulator can be addictive. And the disclosure: I’m already addicted. In spite of this, I will attempt to deliver a fair evaluation of this powerful freeware program for Windows PCs.


    Orbiter (www.orbitersim.com) is a space flight simulator, something of a cross between a conventional PC flight simulator and a planetarium or astronomy program. It features accurate physics (for both orbital mechanics and atmospheric flight), excellent 3-D graphics, and a first-person astronaut’s perspective. Aimed at space- and physics-related education and recreation, Orbiter is not a typical PC game. There are no weapons, explosions, or scores in Orbiter, and currently no built-in multiplayer capability. Because of its realism and detail, Orbiter is certainly educational—but it is also a lot of fun. You can think of it as a toolkit for simulating many aspects of space exploration, or as a virtual world for playing in space.

    As with Microsoft Flight Simulator and similar “civilian” flight sim software, the fun in Orbiter comes in several forms. You can enjoy the beautiful solar system scenery; plan and carry out short or long flights (with the help of extreme time acceleration), orbiting or landing on planets and moons; master the intricacies of rendezvous and docking; recreate historic space missions; re-enter and land the space shuttle; and much more. You can also collect and fly detailed 3-D models of hundreds of historic, current, futuristic, and fictional spacecraft and space stations. If you are of a 3-D graphic design or programming bent, you can create your own Orbiter add-ons: spacecraft, space stations, planetary surface textures, 3-D surface bases, new navigation instruments, and more. You can find or share add-ons and discuss Orbiter and space flight issues through several very active web forums. The Orbiter on-line community includes space flight enthusiasts from all around the world.

    Orbiter is a space flight simulator, something of a cross between a conventional PC flight simulator and a planetarium or astronomy program.

    Orbiter is developed by Dr. Martin Schweiger of University College London. Dr. Schweiger started the Orbiter project in 2000 as an exercise in orbital mechanics programming and as an educational application for physics. Since then, he has brought out several major revisions, improving the technical breadth and depth of the program as well as the quality of the 3-D graphics. Recognizing that he could not develop every feature that every space fan would like, Dr. Schweiger also defined a powerful and flexible programming interface (SDK and API) to allow other programmers to extend the program in various ways. Although Orbiter is not open source, its open architecture has allowed the development of the huge online library of add-ons that exists today.

    Using Orbiter

    That’s all very nice, you might say, but what is it like to use? And how hard is it to learn? Orbiter operates much like a flight simulator: you have a simulated cockpit with multi-function displays (MFD’s) and other controls, and you click on-screen buttons with the mouse or use keyboard commands, like G for landing gear. You can use a joystick, which is nice for atmospheric flight in airplane-like spacecraft, but basic control of the spacecraft is usually done with the numeric keypad. This includes main and hover engines (if available) as well as attitude control thrusters (they toggle between rotation and translation) and aerodynamic control surfaces for atmospheric flight (for winged spacecraft).

    Orbiter comes with several standard spacecraft, including the shuttle Atlantis, and many more are available as free add-ons. For training purposes, most people use the futuristic “Delta Glider” spaceplane, a powerful but still physically-limited craft that can take off from a runway, re-enter and land like the shuttle, and has sufficient fuel capacity to fly to Mars and beyond. It also has hover engines and fully mouse-active instrument panels (both 2-D and a 3-D “virtual cockpit”). It’s a pretty nice ride that will allow you to learn all the basic and advanced orbital maneuvers you will need.

    Orbiter was developed originally with physics education in mind, and it offers an accurate and fun way to explore forces and motion, orbital mechanics, aerodynamic flight, and more.

    As one example scenario, in “DG ISS Approach,” you are in a Delta Glider in low Earth orbit, 600 meters from the International Space Station and lined up for docking. Guided by the special docking MFD and HUD instruments, you need to slowly close the range while maintaining translational and rotational alignment with the docking port. This requires some practice and finesse, and when you finally manage to dock, you have a new appreciation for the astronauts who do this for real. Other scenarios require you to adjust your orbit to “synchronize” or rendezvous with the target instead of starting just 600 meters away. There are instruments for this too, as well as some very useful tutorials on the web.

    Other tasks and missions

    Orbiter comes with many pre-defined scenario files, which define one or more spacecraft and their states (e.g., landed on the Moon, orbiting Mars, docked with the ISS, etc.). You can fly any of the spacecraft in the scenario, and even switch between them during the mission. Although people often start out learning to fly the Delta Glider from KSC to Earth orbit, many scenarios start in space or on the Moon, where you can begin to learn orbital maneuvers before tackling the somewhat trickier tasks of atmospheric flight. Examples of tasks you can do with supplied spacecraft and scenarios:

    • Rendezvous and dock with the ISS or with the Mir space station (which is still in orbit in the Orbiter world)
    • Fly to the Moon, enter orbit and land at “Brighton Beach,” the default Moon base
    • Perform an EVA from the Atlantis, using your MMU to fly to and inspect a satellite
    • Take off from Olympus Base on Mars and go visit Phobos
    • Land the Space Shuttle from final approach to KSC’s runway 33
    • Use the Shuttle robotic arm to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope
    • Fly Voyager 1’s historic trajectory through the Jupiter system and on to Saturn


    Add-ons for Orbiter are also free and cover a wide range of spacecraft, space stations, surface bases, planetary textures, and MFD’s (plug-ins for the instrument panel). Many of these reside on the web site www.orbithangar.com, and others can be found through the Orbiter forums. Add-ons usually include documentation and predefined scenario files that demonstrate and make use of the new tools. Here are a few examples.

    • Orbiter Sound 3.0 – Adds support for sound effects and music, greatly improving the Orbiter experience (Daniel Polli)
    • “Blue marble” high-resolution Earth textures (Jim Williams)
    • Interplanetary MFD (v4.2) – a powerful graphically-oriented orbital mechanics tool that runs within Orbiter, with many features for precise planning and control of flights to the Moon, Mars, or the outer planets (Jarmo Nikkanen)
    • Apollo Program (v6.4.2) – Detailed multi-spacecraft add-on that allows you to fly full Apollo missions or selected parts such as Moon landings (NASSP Team)
    • Shuttle Fleet (v3.8.2) – Greatly enhanced add-on version with better graphics, launch autopilot, configurable payloads, and more (Don Gallagher, Dave Hopkins)
    • Space elevator – Demonstrates the flexibility of Orbiter’s add-on architecture, introducing an entirely new class of propulsion (Yuri Kulchitsky)

    Educational application

    Orbiter was developed originally with physics education in mind, and it offers an accurate and fun way to explore forces and motion, orbital mechanics, aerodynamic flight, and more. Students can also visually explore the Solar System and study geography from space by turning on Orbiter’s configurable object labels. They can also learn about the history of rocketry and space flight by recreating historic missions (add-ons start with Robert Goddard’s early rockets and include Vanguard, Ranger, Mercury, Gemini, Viking, Voyager, Apollo, Soyuz, and many more historic craft). Orbiter is accurate enough to recreate actual eclipses, to perform gravitational slingshot maneuvers for interplanetary flights, and even to follow a shuttle launch in real time (as some enthusiastic shuttle fleet add-on users did for STS-114 in July). There are many user-written tutorials on the web, and some materials specifically geared toward teaching are beginning to arrive.

    Any issues?

    Orbiter is free and is easy to download and install, and it is remarkably stable for a program of its complexity. Because it is freeware, there is no formal technical support, although experienced users on the Orbiter Web Forum often answer questions for new users. One nice feature is that Orbiter installation makes no changes to Windows system files, so it can be uninstalled by simply deleting its installation folder. One issue is that many add-on spacecraft have no instrument panels, so you must use key commands for most operations, although there are other add-ons that partially compensate for this. The documentation is quite good, though it is mainly a reference manual. There is some in-simulation help available, and many tutorials are available to supplement the manual.

    Many tasks in Orbiter are challenging at first—thinking and maneuvering in 3-D and zero-G are not familiar experiences for most people.

    With its emphasis on accurate space flight simulation and orbital mechanics, Orbiter is not all things to all space and astronomy enthusiasts. For one thing, although it displays accurate star positions, you can only fly within the solar system, and detailed information for bodies outside the solar system is not included. People who are looking for a more comprehensive view of the Universe can turn to many commercial, freeware, and shareware astronomy and planetarium programs. Celestia (http://www.shatters.net/celestia/) is one such freeware program, and it is often compared to Orbiter. Celestia does model other stars and even galaxies, offers many user-developed add-ons, and features a “space ship” interface. It’s an excellent program, but to allow quick trips to distant stars, the Celestia space ship is more of a magic carpet than a physical spacecraft model as in Orbiter. Depending on your goals, this can be a plus or a minus.


    I’ve been a space flight enthusiast since childhood, collecting and reading books, watching videos, and in recent years, keeping up with space developments through the web. I’ve even played with a few space-related simulators in the past, but these were so limited physically and/or graphically that none of them held my interest for long. Orbiter is different. The combination of realistic physics, a well-designed flight-sim-like user interface, outstanding graphics, and expandability has created a “sweet spot” in terms of the immersiveness, the variety of experiences, and the range of challenges. Many tasks in Orbiter are challenging at first—thinking and maneuvering in 3-D and zero-G are not familiar experiences for most people. These require learning, and to me, learning is fun—especially learning about space flight. If you or someone you know has similar feelings, and until commercial space-tourist flights become available, Orbiter could be your winning (and free) ticket to space.

    Bruce Irving (bruceirvingmusic [at] pobox [dot] com) is an optical engineer, private pilot, and space flight enthusiast. He is the author of a tutorial ebook for Orbiter, “Go Play In Space”. His blog “Music of the Spheres” discusses Orbiter, space issues, and a little bit of music.