Next weekend, theater-goers will watch astronaut Mark Watney battle to survive on the red planet in The Martian. Meanwhile, the Mars One initiative whittles down a list of Earth dwellers to journey to the very same planet by 2020. In a hostile and alien environment like Mars, it takes knowledge, preparation and practice to survive. You can't just, as Watney put it, "science the shit out of this" if you don't have a clue what to expect. To honor past orbital pioneers and future planetary explorers, we look at some of the simulators and mockups that real astronauts used in preparation for launching themselves off this blue orb and into the well-studied, yet unpredictable vastness of space.
[Image: NASA / Mercury astronaut training on gimbal rig 1960]