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Try to land SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket in this frustrating web game

Try to land SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket in this frustrating web game


If at first you blow up at sea, fly, fly again

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Elon Musk's company SpaceX has a pretty lofty goal: get people to Mars and build a colony. To do that — or to do any other human exploration of space, really — in any kind of affordable way, the cost of spaceflight needs to come way down. So that's why SpaceX has been working on making its flagship Falcon 9 rocket reusable. If you can save a rocket's giant fuel tank and engines (known as the "first stage") instead of losing it after every launch, you can reduce the cost of a single flight by tens of millions of dollars.

Trying to land this first stage is tricky (read: explosive) business, so Musk has been testing landing it way out in the ocean on a drone ship. And on both attempts, the company came agonizingly close to succeeding.

Just be thankful that each explosion doesn't cost you $60 million

Now you can try to succeed where SpaceX has failed with the game SpaceX Falcon 9 Lander. It's a web-based game built with software born out of the MIT Media Lab, and it is definitely a challenge. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's as hard, or harder, than landing the real thing, but it will definitely take you a while to nail it.

All you have at your disposal are your arrow (or WASD) keys: pressing up kicks on the main thruster, while tapping left and right will help you aim for the drone ship. You also have a limited amount of fuel, as if the task of landing wasn't already hard enough.

The 8-bit style game is the perfect way for space geeks to kill a few minutes throughout their day, so go ahead and try it already. But don't get too excited if you stick the landing, because the rockets keep coming. After all, you've got a Martian colony to build, and it's not going to build itself.