Advanced simulations have allowed us to land on the moon, explore the oceans and experience new digital worlds in entirely unique ways.

Simulation is a field that goes beyond computer modelling and theme park rides, to one that's almost certainly had an impact on our lives at some point in time.

This article will explore two unbelievable uses of simulation in the past century.

The Moon landings

Landing men on the Moon was arguably one of the most important steps forward for human kind, asserting the fact that we are capable of achieving the impossible with combined effort and focus. This extremely difficult series of missions in the 1960s and 70s was a mammoth undertaking, and one that wouldn't have been possible without the use of simulation.

After all, how do you train astronauts for a mission unlike any other ever attempted?

Simulation technologies were used in a number of unique ways prior to the historic events of Apollo 11, in order to prepare astronauts to control the command craft, land on the surface and operate various Lunar equipment. In fact, Apollo astronauts spent one third of their total training time in simulators.

To prepare astronauts for the massive mission, fifteen simulators were used to train crews. These were designed to recreate the command modules and lunar landers as well as the surface conditions for the rover in later missions.

As one of the most expensive exploration missions ever performed, exact detail of the operation needed to be rehearsed and drilled until every possible error was accounted for. Training was seen as especially important given the mishap during the Apollo One launch which resulted in the deaths of all three crew in the launch vehicle.

What's more, NASA has claimed that the simulators were what enabled the Apollo 13 mission to safely return to Earth following the crippling disaster, as various manoeuvres could be trialled before the instructions were transmitted to crew. There's no denying the value simulation technologies had during the Apollo missions.

World War I

World War I (WWI) was the largest war to have ever occurred in human history at its breakout in 1914. It's also the one where technology advanced substantially both before and during the colossal operations. Preparing troops was an especially difficult task, given the short time frames required to get soldiers to the front lines, and the need to utilise such a substantial quantity of personnel.

While simulators were designed to train troops for simple tasks like riding horses, flying aircraft was a much higher priority. This was the first large-scale combat operation in history to utilise planes, and it was essential that personnel be able to operate them effectively.

The Central Flying School (CFS) in the UK did not have the training capacity to support the required troop numbers at the outbreak of WW1, and thus needed to rapidly expand in terms of both number of trainers and aircraft.

Initially, accidents were quite common due to inexperience and unsuitable warplanes. This led to the implementation of Major Robert Smith-Barry's 'Gosport System' of aircraft training, which utilised dual controls to train pilots.

Both the instructor and trainee would sit in the aircraft, and manoeuvres could be practiced with a high margin of safety, with the trainer able to simply take over if required.

This system allowed the needed number of pilots to be pushed through training, becoming effective operators of early combat aircraft. 

In summary

Simulation technologies have certainly allowed humanity to achieve the impossible, and overcome seemingly insurmountable tasks in a short space of time. Over the next few decades, there's no denying simulation technologies will continue to push us forward.

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