Attention Aspiring Astronauts: Challenge Yourself With SpaceX's ISS Docking Simulator

Think you have what it takes to fly like an astronaut?
Think you have what it takes to fly like an astronaut?
NASA/Getty Images

SpaceX is preparing to send its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on May 27. To get a taste of what the astronauts onboard will experience on their trip, you can test out SpaceX's ISS docking simulator at home.

As Popular Mechanics reports, this online game features the real interface used by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, Dragon's first crew members. The instructions given at the beginning of the challenge seem simple: "Successful docking is achieved when all green numbers in the center of the interface are below 0.2" But as you'll discover after hitting Begin, reaching that goal is much harder than it sounds.

Things move slowly in space, so patience is required to coax the simulated spacecraft into the perfect position to dock. The controls on the left can be used to move Dragon in all directions. On the right, you'll find buttons for controlling things like roll (the movement around the front-to-back axis), pitch (rotation around the side-to-side axis), and yaw (rotation around its vertical axis). The game is slow-moving, but the stakes are high: Make a wrong move and you may glide past the ISS—or hit it.

If you fail the mission horribly, don't be too hard on yourself. The Dragon spacecraft is designed to dock autonomously, so the astronauts on board likely won't have to recreate this game in space. But they will have the option to dock manually in case something goes wrong, so having the skills to do so is still important.

After seeing how you stack up against SpaceX's challenge, see how you do on NASA's astronaut aptitude test.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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How to See August’s Full Sturgeon Moon

It'd be pure lunacy to skip an opportunity to see this beauty.
It'd be pure lunacy to skip an opportunity to see this beauty.
mnchilemom, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This summer has been an especially exciting time for avid sky-gazers—the NEOWISE comet flew close to Earth in mid-July, and the ongoing Perseid meteor shower is gearing up for its peak around August 11. Though full moons aren’t quite as rare, the sight of a glowing white orb illuminating the night is still worth a glance out your window.

When Is August’s Full Moon?

As The Old Farmer’s Almanac reports, the eighth full moon of 2020 will reach its peak at 11:59 a.m. EST on Monday, August 3. If that’s daytime where you live, you’ll have to wait for the sun to set that night, or you can catch it the night before—Sunday, August 2.

Why Is It Called a Sturgeon Moon?

Each month’s full moon has a nickname (or multiple nicknames), usually of folk origin, that coincides with certain plant, animal, or weather activity common at that time of year. January’s full moon, for example, was named the “wolf moon” because wolves were said to howl more often during January. June’s “strawberry moon” occurred when strawberries were ripe and ready to be picked.

Since people caught an abundance of sturgeon—a large freshwater fish that’s been around since the Mesozoic era—in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain during this part of summer, they started calling August’s full moon the sturgeon moon. It has a few lesser-known monikers, too, including the “full green corn moon” (a nod to the approaching harvest season), and the slightly wordy “moon when all things ripen.”

[h/t The Old Farmer’s Almanac]