Before boarding the simulators, each rider is assigned an on-board role (navigator, pilot, commander or engineer) and given two tasks to perform during the mission (pressing a specific button when told). For example, one of the commander's buttons initiates the rocket's first-stage separation, and the other activates manual flight control. the spacecraft's on-board computer automatically will perform each task if the rider does not respond to his or her prompt from Mission Control.
the mission includes liftoff from the ISTC, a "slingshot" around the moon for a gravity-assisted boost, a brief period of simulated "hypersleep" (to pass the lengthy time required to reach Mars) and a descent for landing on the Martian surface. As a training exercise, the mission contains several unexpected situations that add to the drama.
the futuristic X-2 vehicle is a three-stage rocket which is said to use several technologies in development today, including aerospike engines, solid hydrogen fuel, an aerobrake and carbon nanotubes.
the attraction queue contains several items and commemorative plaques from past, present and fictional future space missions. Among the items on display are props from the 2000 film Mission to Mars, including the rotating "gravity wheel" from the predecessor X-1 spacecraft, a model of which hangs from the ceiling, and a NASA moon rover from the Apollo program on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
Upon conclusion of the training exercise, guests are invited to participate in activities at the Advanced Training Lab, a post-show area containing a group game called Mission: SPACE Race in which players perform tasks as Mission Control technicians aiding two X-2 spacecraft racing to return to Earth; a space-themed play area for toddlers; a single-person, arcade-style game in which an astronaut explores Mars on foot; and a kiosk where brief video postcards can be created and sent via e-mail.