People all over the world could get a chance to step on board the International Space Station thanks to a mind-blowing new virtual reality experience.
The project, called “Space Explorers: The ISS Experience,” was created with the help of a 360-degree camera. That instrument was launched to the space station so the astronauts onboard could use it to show how science and life unfold 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
This virtual reality enterprise is not just an outreach project for NASA; it also provides a chance to demonstrate cutting-edge camera technology. The studio behind this project, Felix and Paul Studios, had a high-definition camera, but their typical camera was about the size of a 4-foot (1.2 meters) tall tree, according to a NASA statement, which is far too large for the space station.
A more compact camera launched to space aboard SpaceX’s 16th commercial-resupply services mission. in December 2018. The virtual reality project, which the crew on the station is still filming, has captured moments ranging from crew meals to science experiments. That includes growing vegetables in space and experimenting with floating robots called SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites).
“Our focus has been thinking about and finding science experiments that, when you see them, you’re immersed in them,” Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder and creative director of Felix and Paul Studios, said in the same NASA statement. “Your mind can start spinning, thinking about what technologies are going to come next and how that research leads to a future path.”
Unlike most Hollywood movies, in this project, the astronauts are both the stars and the people behind the camera, since usually only up to six people are on the space station at one time. While the project has not been released, based on initial feedback from astronauts who have actually been onboard the space station, it manages to give the viewer an incredible, accurate experience and looks quite real.
“It was like I was back there in and on the International Space Station,” astronaut Suni Williams said in the same statement. “You forget you have [a VR headset] on your head, and you just keep looking around. It gives [you] a huge appreciation to all that is inside the space station and how people live and work.”
The next filming challenge for this project will be capturing a spacewalk. A release date for the project hasn’t yet been announced.