How to explore space in virtual reality? Get yourself a virtual reality headset, either for your PC, smartphone, or console. Setup your virtual reality equipment and get ready for exploring space in virtual reality.
There are some excellent applications available. For a smartphone, you’ll find more exploration-based content, but still a little interactive, and very immersive.
If you just want to take a quick look at virtual reality before you buy a more expensive device, try the super-cheap Google Cardboard.
We start by taking a look at some of the applications you can use for exploring space in virtual reality today.
Exploring Space in VR – Space Exploration Apps to Try
Eclipse: Edge of Light is widely thought of as one of the best games for the Google Daydream View, it’s not cheap at $9, but is well made.
Edge of Light delivers you to a strange planet. Your challenge is to discover the alien life that once lived there and its civilisation. You have a jetpack-equipped space suit, and explore the ancient ruins to discover what happened to a betrayed civilisation.
You find an artefact which lets you communicate with old technology, and have to solve the problem of the mysterious world.
Available on Google Play and free, Apollo 15 Moon Landing VR, is a virtual reality simulation of the 1971 lunar landing. You can experience the landing and explore each scene. The app draws on footage from NASA to make the experience as real as possible.
For the best experience, you’ll need a sturdy smartphone combined with Google Daydream or Google Cardboard.
Within the application can you feel the rumble of the landing, unpack and drive a Lunar Rover, and explore. It’s not long or interactive, but it does give a great perspective on a significant historical event.
To explore the broader solar system, try Titans of Space for smartphone headsets like Google Cardboard and Daydream.
It has a virtual reality tour of the solar system where you can roam freely and learn about planets, their sizes, and much more about space. You can control your pace and the depth of the tour, which has a coordinating soundtrack. An add-on with 50 minutes of narration is also available.
Home: A VR Spacewalk by the BBC is inspired by real-life NASA training simulations. You can space-walk in first-person and float 250 miles above the earth. There are also emergency scenarios to make you feel like you are a real astronaut experiencing space challenges.
BBC’s Home: A VR Spacewalk is available for the HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift, and it’s highly rated for “beautiful, heart-stopping, and memorable moments.” The app commissioned by the BBC has won many awards, so is a must try for exploring space in virtual reality today.
Combine the night sky in front of you with information about the stars and their patterns.
StarTracker VR is a fantastic star gazing and educational experience. A mobile planetarium in virtual reality for true astronomy fans and learners.
No journey into exploring space in virtual reality would be complete without a virtual space station experience.
The University Apps: International Space Station app is another education title that tours learners through preparing a space station for a moon trip. Virtually experience what happens in training and space station processes.
SpaceVR is a virtual reality platform which will allow users to experience space first hand from any mobile or desktop virtual reality device.
SpaceVR is planning to send the first satellite into space using 2D 360-degree cameras to feed footage from low earth orbit, back to users so they can experience space travel in immersive virtual reality.
Overview 1 is the World’s First Virtual Reality Satellite, and with it, SpaceVR hopes to provide an immersive virtual reality astronaut experience.
Virtual space tourism is genuinely close. There is no news yet on when SpaceVR will launch but they are one to watch for exploring space in virtual reality.
How NASA Uses Virtual Reality for Space Exploration Training?
Back in late 2016, NASA and Microsoft engineers were testing the Microsoft HoloLens onboard NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” jet.
Visitors from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) were able to walk on Mars, explore a 3D prototype and use a rover at the event at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering MakerSpace.
The capabilities of the Microsoft HoloLens headset for research and exploration were demonstrated to key stakeholders.
The technology included “OnSight” a virtual reconstruction of Mars where researchers can work together on tasks such as routing the Curiosity Mars rover.
Using virtual reality 3D, instead of flat surface images, researchers were able to apply better spatial awareness.
“Project Sidekick”, another application tested, showcased the ability for experts to guide astronauts on the International Space Station through tricky procedures by viewing the astronaut’s actions using virtual reality and augmented reality. Experts were able to give astronauts an overlay of guidance, diagrams and information.
Space station repairs, where astronauts can see schematic diagrams overlaid on the parts they are repairing is an excellent example of the application of virtual and augmented reality.
A third application “Protospace” lets engineers explore detailed models of spacecraft and machinery as they are designed.
“It transforms spacecraft design, in that it allows for a group of mechanical engineers to collaboratively visualize something in a true-to-scale and embodied fashion, which is something that they could never do before, unless they spent a lot of time and money doing a 3D print. Everyone is in the room, usually, when they’re using it, and they can gesture with their hand and everyone knows what they’re talking about.”
– Marijke Jorritsma, an NYU graduate student and intern at JPL Ops Lab
As NASA and other bodies learn to use virtual and augmented reality in space and apply the technologies, their developments will be passed along to the general public.
We will benefit from 3D footage and applications, which mimic the technologies used by engineers and astronauts. From this, we’ll be able to explore space ourselves in virtual reality.
Are You Ready to Start Exploring Space In VR?
We’ve touched on a few of the space exploration applications available.
There are many, and over the next few months and years, our virtual reality space experience is only going to improve.
Space exploration is a massive marketplace for virtual reality development as very few of us will have the opportunity to explore space for real.
Exploring space in virtual reality is our only opportunity to take this journey.
Virtual and augmented reality offers technological advances for space bodies like NASA. Both for training, developing equipment, and for supporting astronauts while they are in space.
As these technologies are developed, we’ll see versions of them drop into mainstream use and exciting applications for our entertainment.
If you’re interested in exploring Space in VR and how to do it, read about the most recent development from NASA and Google Mars Virtual Reality collaboration.