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SpaceEngine's logo
SpaceEngine's logo
Developer(s)Vladimir Romanyuk
Stable release
0.990 (Steam) / 11 June 2019
Preview release
0.990 beta, RC3 / 19 June 2016
Written inC++
Operating systemWindows 7 x86-64 and later(64 bit OS)
Linux (planned)
macOS (planned)
Size4 GB
Available in20 languages
List of languages
English, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Spanish, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish
TypeSpace simulation

SpaceEngine (stylized as "Space Engine") is a proprietary 3D astronomy program[2] and game engine developed by Russian astronomer and programmer Vladimir Romanyuk.[3] It creates a three-dimensional planetarium representing the entire universe from a combination of real astronomical data and scientifically-accurate procedural generation algorithms. Users can travel through space in any direction or speed, and forwards or backwards in time.[4] SpaceEngine is in beta status and is currently freeware for Microsoft Windows. SpaceEngine's latest release, version 0.990, is the first paid release. This has recently (June, 2019) been made available for purchase via Steam Early Access.

Properties of objects, such as temperature, mass, radius, etc., are presented to the user on the HUD and in an accessible information window. Users can observe celestial objects ranging from small asteroids or moons to large galaxy clusters, similar to other simulators such as Celestia. SpaceEngine includes thousands of real objects, including stars from the Hipparcos catalog, galaxies from the NGC and IC catalogs, many well-known nebulae, and all known exoplanets and their stars.


The proclaimed goal of SpaceEngine is scientific realism, and to reproduce every type of known astronomical phenomenon.[5] It uses star catalogs along with procedural generation to create a cubical universe 10 billion parsecs on a side, centered on the Earth.[6] The use of procedural generation allows for a much larger universe to explore than similar programs; billions of galaxies can be explored, each with billions of stars, planets, and moons.

Catalog objects[edit]

The real objects that SpaceEngine includes are the Hipparcos catalog for stars, the NGC and IC catalogs for galaxies, all known exoplanets, and prominent star clusters, nebulae, and Solar System objects.[7]

Procedurally generated objects[edit]

SpaceEngine currently uses procedural methods to generate:

The surfaces of terrestrial planets are generated using an algorithm based on fractal noise.

Everything is based on the same seed, which produces the same simulated universe in every computer on which the program runs, making it possible to share locations between users.

Generated Planets names start with RS.


In SpaceEngine's beta spaceship mode, the program simulates inertia, realistic gravity wells, and atmospheric dynamics.

Although faster-than-light travel is not currently possible, SpaceEngine implements a feasible warp drive based on the Alcubierre drive.

Relativistic effects on the speed of light are simulated, in areas such as redshifted galaxies, the gravitational redshift exerted by black holes, and the theoretical redshift produced by the warp drive.


The UI of SpaceEngine, showing a procedural earth analog with planetary rings.

When using SpaceEngine, a user can freely explore the universe using keyboard and mouse commands, including WASD keys. A user may travel to any object in the program's universe by selecting it and using the go-to-object function in the drop-down menu. Objects can be selected either by clicking on them or by searching for and selecting them in a search window.

There are three different modes of camera control. In free mode, the camera moves without inertia. Users can set a constant velocity to travel up to 100 million parsecs per second. Spacecraft and aircraft modes enable inertia, and the user sets an acceleration rather than a velocity. In aircraft mode, the direction of motion shifts with the orientation of the camera; in spacecraft mode, it does not.

Engine users can also speed up, slow down, or travel to a specific moment in time; however, the input window only accepts dates from Jan 1, -2,147,483,648 to Dec 31, 2,147,483,648. Beyond these limits, physics proceeds normally but the calendrical display loops due to a data overflow.

All of the keyboard shortcuts can be customized in SpaceEngine's settings.

Wiki and locations[edit]

The software has its own built-in "wiki" database which gives detailed information on all celestial objects and enables a player to create custom names and descriptions for them. It also has a locations database where a player can save any position and time in the simulation and load it again in the future.[8]


Although objects that form part of a planetary system move, and stars rotate about their axes and orbit each other in multiple star systems, stellar proper motion is not simulated, and galaxies are at fixed locations and do not rotate.

Most real-world spacecraft such as Voyager 2 are not provided with SpaceEngine.

Interstellar light absorption is not modeled in Space Engine.[9]


Development of SpaceEngine began in 2005,[10] with its first public release in June 2010. The software is written in C++. The engine uses OpenGL as its graphical API and uses shaders written in GLSL.

The latest official version is As the development of a new version progresses, Romanyuk shares his development status on a regular basis.[11] In addition to expanding and completing the planetarium software, the developer has also expressed his intention to create games using the engine,[12] and to eventually license the engine to other developers.

On June 4th, 2019, HarbingerDawn announced that SpaceEngine will be officially releasing on the Steam store on Tuesday, June 11th. As of now, there is a 25% off sale setting the price to $18.74.

On May 27th, 2019, the Steam store page for SpaceEngine was made public in preparation for the release of the first paid version, 0.990.[13]

SpaceEngine is currently only available for Windows PCs; however, Romanyuk has plans for the software to support macOS and Linux in the future.[14]


SpaceEngine is easily modifiable and can support a large variety of addons. The online community creates many addons for the program, including high-resolution textures, language localizations, spacecraft models, edited shaders, galaxy models, lens flares effects, and fictional planetary systems. Most addons are posted on the official website forums.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vladimir, Romanyuk. "Space Engine - Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  2. ^ George Dvorsky (July 12, 2011). "New simulation is as close to traveling through space as it gets". io9. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  3. ^ Thomas Tamblyn (October 21, 2014). "Man Builds Massive Virtual Universe You Can Download And Explore". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Cara Ellison (March 11, 2013). "2012: A Space Engine". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Vladimir, Romanyuk. "Space Engine - Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  6. ^ "Size of universe in space engine - Forum". Archived from the original on 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  7. ^ Vladimir, Romanyuk. "Space Engine - Home page". Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  8. ^ Wilke, Stephan (10 May 2013). "Mit Space Engine 0.97 das Weltall erkunden: Faszinierende Ansichten des Universums". PC Games Hardware. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  9. ^ link to screenshot
  10. ^ "Интервью с разработчиком SpaceEngine - Владимиром Романюком". Elite Games. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Work progress - - Forum". Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  12. ^ "Steam Greenlight :: SpaceEngine". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ Romanyuk, Vladimir (27 May 2019). "Steam Store Page is Live!". Space Engine. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  14. ^ Vladimir, Romanyuk. "Space Engine - Funding and Donations". Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  15. ^ "Mods and Addons - Forum". Retrieved 2017-01-15.

External links[edit]