Activision's Space Shuttle

The following article is from Popular Science, July 1984, p. 32 (the "Look and Listen" column by William J. Hawkins).


Popular Science once did a prizewinning story on how the space program has contributed to life on Earth. Now, in a small way, perhaps the Activision video game "Space Shuttle" has returned the favor.

"The real shuttle uses its large engines to de-orbit and its smaller ones for minor adjustments," Steve Kitchen, Space Shuttle's designer, told me. "Our game works the same way, but during the two years of game development and testing, someone accidentally landed using just the small engines."

Kitchen thought it was an error in his programming, so he asked NASA to simulate the same event on their computers to see what the real results should be. "We were astonished," said Kitchen. "It did it on their computer, too." While Kitchen claims no credit for changes in NASA's plans, he says an emergency procedure on how to land using just the small engines in now part of the real shuttle's instruction manual.

Return to Lee's classic video game info.
Lee K. Seitz (
Created: 16 Jul 1999; Last Modified: 16 Jul 1999