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On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.
Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.
The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator.
Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.
However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g.
Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011's commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.
It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the space craft, but not orbital mechanics.
Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators.
Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets.
In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided.
In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.
Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and don't take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof.