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From the Earth to the Moon to the desktop

Apollo 17 returns to Earth in Starry Night Apollo (Imaginova)
December 20, 2007 — Thirty-five years ago this week, the last of nine U.S. manned missions to fly to the Moon, Apollo 17, navigated its way back to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Now, thanks to new software, computer users can trace the journey they blazed from the Earth to the Moon.

Imaginova Corp.'s Starry Night Apollo, the latest entry in their successful line of Starry Night astronomy software packages, simulates the trajectory of each of the manned moon missions. Integrating audio commentary and the photographs taken by the astronauts, each virtual flight is enhanced by excerpts from original television broadcasts and other multimedia features.

Using data archived by NASA, Starry Night Apollo maps the trajectories each flight followed against the backdrop of stars and planets for which the Starry Night engine is best known. Users can view the Moon and other celestial objects as they appeared decades ago, emulating each Apollo crew's actual space travel experience.

"Generations remember Neil Armstrong's 'one small step for man,' and with Starry Night Apollo, millions of space enthusiasts will be able to vicariously experience these important space missions with precise, true-to-life simulations," said Seth Meyers, Imaginova Studios' vice president and general manager, in a release issued today.

Apollo 10's command, service and lunar modules (Imaginova)
Using 3D models of the Apollo spacecraft, including the Saturn V rocket, command, service and lunar modules, Starry Night Apollo provides users the opportunity to ride along for each of the inbound and outbound trajectories flown by the nine missions that were launched between 1968 and 1972. These start with the first crewed flight to orbit the Moon, Apollo 8, and continue through each of the six landings, Apollo 11 through Apollo 17. The 'dress rehearsal' flight of Apollo 10 and the 'successful failure' of Apollo 13 are also included.

Starry Night Apollo users can choose to fly the missions in real or accelerated time, witnessing along the way the engine burns that shaped the flight trajectories. Just as during the real missions, star sightings can be accessed for simulated spacecraft alignment and guidance. Once at the Moon, users can land at each of the six Apollo sites.

Starry Night Apollo can be downloaded from Imaginova's website for $29.99. The software is available for Windows XP, Vista and Apple's Mac OS X.

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