spaceSpace and Physics

This 360-Degree Camera Will Give You A Virtual Reality Astronaut Experience On The ISS


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

2723 This 360-Degree Camera Will Give You A Virtual Reality Astronaut Experience On The ISS
SpaceVR is hoping to launch their camera to the ISS next year. SpaceVR.

A company is hoping to launch a 360-degree camera to the International Space Station (ISS) that will let people on Earth see an “astronaut’s view” of space in virtual reality. Called SpaceVR, the San Francisco-based project is currently seeking $100,000 (£66,000) of funding on Kickstarter for its endeavor.

At the heart of the project is a device called Overview One, which has four cameras on each side to capture footage. It will be capable of recording in 16K –  ultra high-definition – giving Earthlings high-resolution footage from the ISS. SpaceVR is working with NanoRacks, which has launched more than 300 items to the ISS, with the hope of sending its camera to the ISS next year, possibly on a SpaceX mission in the summer.


“The camera is a four-camera rig, with 179-degree lenses,” Varun Vruddhula from SpaceVR told IFLScience. “Hardwired together to start recording at the same time with the press of a single button, it records a sphere of video at 4K per camera for two hours.”

Vruddhula says it takes about 5 minutes for an astronaut to set up the camera, and another 5 minutes to stow it away. They are hoping NASA will give them some of the crew’s valuable time to set up the camera, and leave it running in the Cupola module – which has fantastic views of Earth and space thanks to its numerous windows. Footage can be viewed using a VR headset, and also with standard video players on iOS, Android, and the web, which will let users scroll around the 360-degree views in “2D virtual reality.”

Footage from each lens is stitched together to make the videos. SpaceVR.

At the moment, it will not be possible to live stream from the ISS, with downlink of footage and stitching together the video taking about a week. But Vruddhula is hopeful for such a capability in the future. “Live streaming is a key future priority for SpaceVR,” he said. “It requires the use of not yet created commercial satellite communication services and additional SpaceVR engineering.”


In the meantime, the company has been showing off the capabilities of the camera here on Earth. You can view a 360-degree video of a SpaceX launch on June 28, 2015, and also a high-altitude balloon test, on its website.

Backers for the project can donate $15 (£10) to get access to the first digital footage when the camera launches into space, while $50 (£35) will get you unlimited content from the camera. If you’re feeling especially rich, you can pledge $10,000 (£6,600) to go on a parabolic flight on Earth, simulating weightlessness, while also wearing a headset playing the VR experience.

There are only a few days left on the SpaceVR Kickstarter, so if you want your own virtual reality astronaut experience, you might want to back it sooner rather than later.


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