CIT 590 Assignment 1: Lunar Lander
Spring 2010, David Matuszek

Purposes of this assignment

General idea of the assignment

Lunar Lander is one of the earliest computer games. With a proper choice of initial values, it is quite a bit of fun to play, even as a text-only program.

You are in a lunar module, some distance above the Moon's surface. Gravity is pulling you toward the Moon at an ever-increasing rate of speed. You have a limited amount of fuel to use, and each time you burn fuel, you reduce your speed by a certain amount. If you burn the right amount of fuel at the right time, you can land safely (that is, when you reach the Moon's surface, you are not going too fast).

The math

This game is not timed; you can take as long as you want to enter numbers. Each time you enter a number, one second of "game time" will have passed. In other words, 1 turn = 1 second.

At each turn, you are told:

Each of these quantities should be in variables with appropriate names. The program should specify initial values for these variables. A reasonable choice is an altitude of 1000.0 meters, a velocity of 0.0 (neither rising nor falling), and 1000.0 liters of fuel.

You then get to specify:

At the end (which you can determine because your altitude becomes zero or negative), you are either congratulated for a safe landing, or told how deep a crater you have blasted into the surface of the moon (based on your velocity).

At each turn, you will need to do the following calculations:

After these calculations, you need to determine if you have "landed." You have landed if your altitude is less than or equal to zero (it is highly improbable that you would ever get exactly zero). A safe landing is one where your velocity is not more than 10 meters/second.

Either way, the game ends when you have landed. If you have landed safely, adjust your altitude to be zero before printing out the final numbers, along with a congratulatory message. If you didn't land safely, use your velocity to print out how deep a crater you have just blasted in the lunar surface.

After each game, ask the user if they want to play again. Any response that begins with 'y' or 'Y' means "yes," any response that begins with 'n' or 'N' means "no," and for any other answer you should ask again.

Note: We talk about values using their measurement units, for example, "1.6 meters/second." In our programming, however, we don't use the units, just the numbers, for example 1.6. It is your responsibility as a programmer to know what units you are using. (The $125 million 1999 Mars orbiter was lost because Lockheed Martin used English units in its programming, while NASA expected metric units.)

Things you need to know

If s is a string, the first character in s is given by the expression s[0].

You will probably need to use one or more while loops in your program. I didn't manage to talk about these on Thursday; you can read about them in your textbook, or ask a TA about them.


As you can imagine, it could take my TAs a lot of time to check out your game. Accordingly, I want you to turn in a file named readme.txt, which provides (1) a list of numbers to enter in order to win the game by landing safely, and (2) a list of numbers which will cause you to lose the game. (The latter list should be very easy to find.)

Due date

Your program is due before midnight, Thursday January 21. Zip up your program file and your readme.txt file, and submit via Blackboard. I have not gotten the Blackboard accounts set up yet; I will attend to that next week.

Important policy note: Now and throughout the semester, only assignments submitted via Blackboard will be accepted. Assignments turned in any other way will be rejected or, possibly, simply ignored.

Also, Blackboard occasionally goes down for a couple of hours at a time. Allow for this, and try not to turn your programs in at the very last minute. Except in the case of prolonged Blackboard outages, you will not be given extra time when this happens.