In this image made from video provided by NASA, U.S. astronauts Peggy Whitson, above, and Shane Kimbrough work on the outside of the International Space Station on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (NASA via AP/Thomas Pesquet via AP)
Take a virtual trip to the International Space Station
April 11, 2017
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What is life like aboard the International Space Station? This is a question only a few people can answer. But thanks to a new virtual reality tour, more people than ever can step aboard the floating lab. They can virtually explore the station. And they can see its amazing views. This is according to Mashable's Adario Strange.
The program was created with NASA and the Canadian and European space agencies. It is called Mission: ISS. It is probably the closest you'll ever come to visiting the space station. The program uses Oculus Rift virtual reality. It also uses Oculus Touch motion control. They create a realistic simulation of life aboard the station.
As Oculus writes on its blog, the movie was designed to recreate the ISS "in painstaking detail." It is a free simulation. The program was based on NASA models. It was made with the input of astronauts and NASA's Virtual Reality Laboratory. The lab uses virtual reality. It can train astronauts for their in-space tasks.
Users can try their hand at everything from spacewalks to docking spacecrafts. They do this with the help of motion controls. This is all in a simulated zero-gravity environment. (Strange warns that the simulated weightlessness is very realistic. Users might want to sit down before stepping into the virtual world.)
The simulation is fun. But Strange says it is no video game. The program is meant to give users a realistic idea of what it's like to live in space. Users also can learn about individual astronauts. They can learn about the history of the ISS. This is through a series of video clips. The team is also testing the program as an educational tool. It could teach high school students about the station.
Augmented reality is already being tested in space. This is with the help of Microsoft's HoloLens headset. One day, it will be used to guide repairs. On-ground techs will see exactly what astronauts observe. But virtual reality has yet to make it into space. That is about to change. This is according to the Oculus blog. An Oculus headset will be sent to space. It will be used by astronaut Thomas Pesquet. He will test how gravity affects spatial awareness.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why don't we know all the ways VR will be used in space?
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