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Play this fun, free game to see how hard it is to land a SpaceX rocket

Play this fun, free game to see how hard it is to land a SpaceX rocket
Photo courtesy of SpaceX

If you're interested in space or space travel, you've heard of SpaceX. This is the rocket company headed by billionaire inventor Elon Musk, who is also responsible for Tesla electric cars.

SpaceX has already successfully sent supplies up to the International Space Station, and could soon be transporting astronauts up there, which is already more than most governments can manage. However, to bring the cost of space travel down, it's given itself an ambitious goal of making a self-landing reusable rocket.

Historically, rockets go up and either stay in space, burn up in the atmosphere or come crashing into the ocean. In other words, you spend untold millions on a rocket and only use it for a single flight.

If you could bring the rocket back down safely, though, you could reuse it and save a lot of money. That was also the idea behind the space shuttle, although getting each of those reconditioned for the next flight was still a major, and expensive, undertaking.

SpaceX's eventual goal is a rocket that can be reused several times in a row before needing a serious overhaul. We say "eventual" because so far it hasn't successfully landed a rocket, and it's only attempting the first stage so far.

The two times it's tried have ended in fiery explosions. There was the first attempt in January:

The second attempt in April almost made it, but it ran out of thruster propellant and couldn't stop itself from toppling.

Still, there are a lot of people who don't understand just how hard this type of landing actually is. That's why someone from MIT Media Lab's "Scratch" project has made a game called "SpaceX Falcon 9 Lander."

We played it around the office and managed to land around 1 out of 15 times. Give it a try and let us know how you did in the comments.

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