Where have all the space simulators gone?


2011 was a bad year for astronomy education.  It marked the end of development for Celestia, the first astronomy simulator that I ever fell in love with.  Spin-offs like Celestia.sci and Celestia161-ED slowly died on the vine after that.

A year before, Orbiter had gone dark.  Two years later, Digital Universe Atlas (demonstrated in the video above) development ended in favor of a commercial planetarium product.

Sky in Google Earth and Sky-Map only allow 2-D navigation and panning (flat-earth believers rejoice!).

Kerbal Space Program has mediocre graphics.  Likewise with Pioneer.

SpaceEngine looks promising but it's proprietary (owned by a single Russian developer) with an uncertain free beta status and very commercial aims [1] [2] [3].  Outerra, Starry Night, and Redshift are similarly commercial.

In addition to being commercial, Universe Sandbox by design is more about astrophysics than depicting the actual universe.

So, where have all the cool space simulators gone?  Where are all the brilliant retired astronomers, physicists, and OpenGL space animators congregating?  Is open source too unrealistic for this product category?  Please comment and vote for your favorite!

Update: WorldWide Telesecope looks promising (especially since Microsoft recently open sourced it and switched ownership to a neutral governing body) but it uses image stitching (similar to KStars) instead of vector 3D space so you don't get the star-flyby effect which I feel degrades the "space travel" experience.

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