As we watched SpaceX launch yet another successful unmanned voyage into outer space, it got us to thinking: Elon Musk’s prediction that people will arrive on Mars by 2025 might not be so far-fetched after all.
Clearly this remarkable technology is improving all the time, and it won’t be long until space tourism becomes viable – at least, to those who can afford it!
But what of the rest of us? Well, there’s always virtual reality space travel!
Through the wonder of modern VR technology, we can explore the cosmos from the comfort of our own home. No need for deep pockets, months of intensive training, or incredible feats of endurance. Simply download an app or stream a 360 degree video, pull on your headset, and blast off into an immersive space travel experience.
Shoot for the Stars
A number of exciting startups have moved into this space (no pun intended), determined to bring us high quality VR space travel experiences. For example, SpaceVR plan to launch Overview 1, the world’s first Virtual Reality satellite, in 2018. This will capture incredible 360 degree footage of low orbit space, allowing its users to become astronauts using their mobile, desktop, or VR devices.
Meanwhile, the Science Museum in London recently launched Space Descent Vr With Tim Peake, an “out-of-this-world virtual reality mission that puts you in the pilot’s seat of a Soyuz capsule.” It uses Samsung’s Galaxy 7 and Gear headset to deliver a fascinating insight into UK astronaut Tim Peake’s descent from the International Space Station with painstaking detail. If you happen to be in the UK, this VR experience is currently on tour.
If you can’t wait for SpaceVR, or you can’t visit the Tim Peake exhibition, here are a few more VR space exploration apps worthy of your attention.
Boldly Go with these 5 VR Space Travel Apps
A simply breathtaking example of Virtual Reality space exploration, Earthlight is a collaboration between NASA and Opaque Space. This VR spacewalk provides you with an incredible level of immersion as you play through a narrative-driven game as Ana, one of NASA’s brightest astronauts.
Through Ana’s eyes, you’ll experience an array of tasks performed on the ISS, floating thousands of kilometers above the planet. Built with input from real-life astronauts, and those who support and train them, this might be as close to authentic space travel as you’re likely to get without climbing aboard one of Elon Musk’s rockets.
Earthlight is currently only available for the HTC Vive.
2. Home: A VR Spacewalk
A stunning piece of work from UK-based studio REWIND, in conjunction with BBC Studios Digital, BBC Studios Science, and BBC Learning, Home: A VR Spacewalk is an award-winning 15 minute glimpse into life aboard (or more accurately, outside) the International Space Station.
It was developed using Unreal Engine 4, resulting in eye-popping visuals, while the use of spatial sound adds to the realism of the experience. European Space Agency (ESA) experts and astronauts were consulted throughout development, while script writer Marco Crivellari delivered a gripping and engaging narrative. A haptic gaming chair can also be used to ramp up the authenticity.
Thanks to the multisensory technologies in play and the incredible attention to detail, your virtual spacewalk might not feel all that virtual after all. But at least you won’t actually be floating 250 miles above the earth if you find it all a little overwhelming!
3. Titans of Space Plus
Originally developed for the Oculus Rift back in 2013, Titans of Space Plus can be considered a pioneering Virtual Reality space app. With its 60-minute guided tour, it’s akin to a visit to the planetarium, except it’s jaw dropping VR from the comfort of your own home.
Learn about our Solar System, including plant names, measurements, and their corresponding moons, all while marveling at the vastness and beauty of outer space. The level of detail is to be commended, with distances and planet sizes delivered to scale. This is educational and engaging VR at its best.
Titans of Space Plus is currently available for Samsung Gear VR on the Oculus Store.
4. Mission: ISS
Another trip to the International Space Station awaits with Mission: ISS. Nominated for an Emmy, this space simulation takes you aboard the ISS, teaching you how to move and work in zero-gravity, dock a space capsule, experience a spacewalk, and learn from real-life NASA astronauts via archived video clips.
Made in collaboration with NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and VFX studio Magnopus, Mission: ISS has been created to make space education exciting and accessible. It’s currently available for free for Oculus Rift, and the Touch controllers are required to interact with the VR content.
If you’ve ever wanted to take the place of Sandra Bullock or Matt Damon to star in your own sci-fi epic, then ADR1FT is just the game for you. This is a powerful, story-driven VR experience that places you amongst the floating wreckage of a destroyed space station. With no memory of the incident, and oxygen leaking from your space suit, you’re tasked with survival as you search the debris for resources.
Described as ‘overwhelming and humbling’, ADR1FT takes VR space exploration to new heights. It’s currently available for Steam, Oculus, PlayStation 4 and HTC Vive.
If the next big VR space travel app idea is yours, then we have the know-how and expertise to help you get started.