Among other changes from previous versions of the game, Microsoft has increased the maximum altitude in Flight Simulator X to nearly 19,000 miles -- much higher than the flight path of the space shuttle. From high altitudes, the sky is a deep black and pilots can see the curvature of the Earth -- the only question is how to get there. By making some changes to default aircraft included in the game, you can create your own spaceship capable of getting you to orbit.
Open Windows Explorer and navigate to your Flight Simulator X directory -- by default, this is located in "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator X." Within that directory, open the "SimObjects" folder, then "Airplanes" and "FA-18."
Right-click on "aircraft.cfg," and choose "Open with." Select "WordPad" from the list of available programs.
Hit "Control" and "F" to bring up the "Find" dialogue box, and type "static_thrust." Hit enter to find the "static_thrust" line in the file, and change the value from "11000" to "110000." Save the file and close WordPad.
Launch Flight Simulator X from the "Games" section of your computer's Start Menu. Choose "Missions" from the menu at the left side of the screen, and select "Rocket Launch Air Cover" and then "Go To Briefing."
Press the "F3" key or move your joystick's throttle forward to get enough power for take-off. Around 70 per cent should be sufficient -- the F/A-18 now has 10 times as much power as before, so if you increase the throttle to maximum immediately the aeroplane will become unstable. Once you have cleared the aircraft carrier, point the nose up until the ladder in the middle of the head-up display reads 45 degrees.
Watch the altimeter on the HUD until you have reached 15,000 feet above sea level, and then press "F4" or increase your joystick's throttle to maximum. This will apply full power so that the F/A-18 begins climbing rapidly. At 264,000 feet, you have reached the altitude at which NASA and the United States Air Force consider you to be an astronaut; at 328,000 feet, you have crossed the Karman Line, which other agencies use to divide outer space from the Earth's atmosphere.
To return the F/A-18 to normal, edit the "aircraft.cfg" file again and change "static_thrust" back to "11000."