A plan to send virtual reality cameras to the International Space Station in order to capture unprecedented VR content has been described as having the potential for a “transformational cultural shift” by a leading space policy consultant.
James Muncy, space policy consultant, entrepreneur and principle of space policy consultancy PoliSpace, said that the project, run by SpaceVR and launching today on Kickstarter, will give people the closest experience to being in space yet possible, and as a result change attitudes towards issues on Earth and boost interest and involvement in space projects.
“Everyone will be able to experience a 360 degree view of space,” said Muncy in an interview with Factor.
“If you give a billion people the experience of flying above the Earth – you’re not just giving them a picture, you’re actually putting them in it and they’re seeing the lack of boundaries; the flow of rivers; the flow of storms across the planet. You’re giving people an impression of the Earth and you see economic development, and you see – in some cases – pollution, and you see the result of conflict.
“How does that change people’s view of the world when they get to personally experience it? How does it change their relationship to space if they get to see it with virtual reality? Does that make a kid want to study engineering so that they can be part of that?
“That’s a transformational cultural shift that simply launching 12 cameras to the International Space Station so that people can participate themselves in space flight could have.”
The project, which is already over 14% funded after being live on Kickstarter for just a matter of hours, will film both inside the International Space Station and through the cupola: the large window used to observe Earth, using a size-sided cube fitted with two cameras on each face, known as Overview One.
“They’re going to collect virtual reality data from inside the Space Station,” said Muncy.
“That’s going to go up to the Space Station early next year, it’s going to take pictures not just of the inside of the Space Station, but they’re going to mount the camera on the cupola, which is sort of like the bay window of the Space Station that looks out, and it’s going to take pictures of space and take pictures as they fly over the Earth.”
SpaceVR plans to captures 27 virtual reality films, totalling 770 minutes, or over 12 hours of footage. 180 minutes of this will consist of spacecraft launches, while the remaining time will be split between the cupola and the International Space Station’s interior.
Among the cupola footage will be a full one and a half-hour rotation of the Earth, shots of fireworks going off across the world, natural phenomenon such as meteor showers, lighting storms and auroras and the docking of the SpaceX Dragon.
Viewers of the ISS footage will be treated to the astronaut experience, with a complete ISS tour, experiments, 3D printing and water in zero-gravity planned for inclusion.
Assuming the project is successfully funded, Overview One will be sent to the ISS in the first half of 2016 and the resulting footage available to view on all VR headsets later that year.