Under the Hood
Wings Of Mercury is a recreation of the first seven manned space flights. For those looking for state of the art graphics and lots of eye candy, look elsewhere. There is only one external camera view and the graphics and effects are circa mid-‘90s. What it does offer is a fairly accurate representation of the Mercury capsule’s flight instrumentation. There is no ‘virtual cockpit’ view that I could find. So, don’t expect to slew your view around the cockpit and see every rivet.
This is probably astonishingly close to what the first seven astronauts saw to begin with. The approximate size of a telephone booth, the Mercury capsule was claustrophobic in nature, making short flights if not a necessity on the part of the human pilot, then certainly a comfort. Can you imagine a sudden screaming itch between your toes while stacked on a few hundred thousand pounds of explosive liquid oxygen?
I’m not sure about the age of the software, but it appears that it is rather old, say 1994. There is an installer for both Windows and Mac computers. Also included are quite a few of the original NASA documents and reports on manned space flights, including Gus Grissom’s fateful mission that ended in the loss of a capsule. I must stress that the copy sent is in beta form and is a long way from being released. Which is a good thing because the software I was sent offered a lot to the user, even if I couldn’t get some of it to work.
When installed, nothing goes to your Program Files, everything is installed to your Start Menu as the default location and there seemed to be no way to change this. Don’t worry about a huge footprint in your Start Menu, though. The installation footprint is either a testament to the age of the software or the economy of code because any hard drive will swallow the 92.8MB folder without a belch.
After receiving a working copy of the HTML manual from Pyramid Design, I immediately noticed that this appeared to be a Mac program adapted for Windows. The executable for OS-X should have tipped me off, but I figured they were just trying to be nice. Nothing against that, but I began to understand why I might have a few problems getting everything figured out as the helpful images placed in the manual to assist you in your tasks were clearly OS-X. I’d seen it often enough in public education to know. So, after breaking out my Captain Caveman Ring Decoder, I began playing with a few of the options.
You may notice in this picture that the option to map keys to a joystick is possible and it even detected my Saitek X45 HOTAS. I tried to map the yaw, pitch, and roll axes to my joystick and the external camera views to my POV hat switch along with my verbal acknowledgment of messages from Johnson Space Center to other buttons. The result was a corrupted external view that could only be temporarily remedied by hitting the ‘V’ key over and over to re-center the view.