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Starfox's iconic barrel roll is possible in a vacuum. Here's how.

Yes, Starfox's barrel roll in space could be accomplished in real life, even in a vacuum. Except #wellactually it's not a barrel roll.

In Earth atmosphere, it's an aileron roll; a barrel roll would take the entire craft on a corkscrew path. Of course, in space, ailerons mean nothing because there is no atmosphere against which they may work. So let's just call it a barrel roll. Fewer syllables.

Whatever its name, the maneuver in Starfox still is theoretically possible, as PBS Space Time explains here. Anyone who flew in LucasArts' X-Wing and TIE Fighter space combat sims knows a barrel roll in those games was a simple matter of pressing one key while moving the craft in another direction (I played with a flight stick, so I can't remember the keyboard command.)

Space Time posits that the use of gyroscopes could achieve the same effect, rather than placing tiny, inefficient positioning thrusters all over the ship to simulate, in a vacuum, a graceful atmospheric flight (as Star Wars and other sci-fi canons have described.)

So, flywheels. Let's get on that, Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous.

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