Earlier today, Elon Musk had another hard landing on his droneship Of Course I Still Love You. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched this morning to deliver two satellites into orbit but failed to stick the landing, and experienced what Musk calls a “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly” — in other words, it blew the fuck up. It’s not the first time this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last, but the failure is easy to shake off after a string of highly improbable successes at landing a gigantic rocket on a droneship in the middle of the ocean.
The thing is, landing a rocket on a moving ship is very, very difficult — and you can see for yourself by playing this game.
A German programmer named dixiklo has been working on a “Lunar Lander” game on MIT’s popular open-platform Scratch, which lets users program simple flash-based browser games. Recently, dixiklo modified the Lunar Lander game so you could try your hand at landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a moving droneship. It’s a very simple yet devilishly hard game — probably still a lot easier than doing it in real life, but still surprisingly fun and challenging.
The controls are simple — hold the UP arrow or “W” key to engage the booster, and tap the LEFT and RIGHT arrows or “A” and “S” keys to use the horizontal thrusters.
The problem is, well, physics. Angling a precariously-balanced vertical rocket down perpendicularly onto a flat object is pretty hard. We still don’t have the footage from SpaceX’s landing today, but Musk says he’ll release it later. In the meantime, you can play Falcon Nine Lander yourself right here.
And this is what the destruction looks like in real life: