Last October, during a White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh, President Obama sat down in a simulator of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which will begin transporting astronauts to the International Space Station within a couple of years.

The commander-in-chief wanted to try his hand at a task astronauts would eventually have to perform.

After taking the controls and cleanly docking to the station, Obama gleefully exulted, “Your ride is here, baby.”

So when I sat down in the same simulator on a recent Friday morning, at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston, I felt a little pressure to match the president’s success.

Even though this simulator has been “dumbed” down for the general public from the real thing, it still wasn’t trivial to guide the Starliner, nose first, into a docking port on the station’s Node 2 module.
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