Only a handful of people will experience what it’s like to be on board the International Space Station (ISS). But if you don’t want to go through the extensive training required to become an astronaut, the next best thing is available: A 3D, 360-degree virtual experience of floating in and outside the space station.
The ambitious documentary series called "Space Explorers" was conceived by TIME magazine and Felix & Paul Studios. Filming for the incredible visual work took place across 2019. Custom-built cameras were used to provide an incredibly immersive experience, with 200 hours of footage being captured by astronauts. The final version will have four episodes capturing different moments of life in space.
The first episode called “Adapt” was made available last month. It can be downloaded for Oculus Rift and select 5G devices, and it is expected to be shown on screen at domes and planetariums – though not in lockdown. If you are near Houston, Texas you can experience the video at the NASA Johnson Space Center on Texas' largest 4K screen.
The 24-minute-long first episode is a perfect introduction to life on the ISS. It follows NASA astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch, and Nick Hague, together with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, in their first months in orbit, learning to adapt to living and working in close quarters of the space station as it speeds around the earth at almost 8 kilometers (5 miles) per second.
"We use this medium to take people to places they cannot go," Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder and creative director of Felix & Paul Studios, told collectSPACE in an interview. "For us, that doesn't necessarily mean creating a fully interactive experience where we ask audiences to press buttons and do other such things as in a game. We remain on the side of a cinematic experience, where what we really try to do is nurture a sense of presence for our audiences."
The camera used is so high-res that allowed them to convert the originally stereoscopic footage (that makes it 3D) into something watchable on the biggest screens on the planet. The filmmakers stress that this allowed for the footage shot by the astronauts to preserve the sense of “floaty-ness” of the final product.
The full series will have some incredible external footage of the ISS and it will also feature astronauts Luca Parmitano with European Space Agency, Hazza Al Mansouri from the United Arab Emirates, and Andrew “Drew” Morgan from NASA.
You can check the full trailer below and several sneak peeks here.