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Mar 13, 2017 01:21 PM EDT

‘Mission:ISS’ VR App For The Oculus Rift Lets Users Be Astronauts Without Leaving Earth


Only a handful of people knows what it is like to live and work in space. Today, "Mission:ISS" will let its users experience what it is like to be an astronaut without ever leaving the confines of the Earth. The virtual reality simulation announced last year, is now available for free to Oculus Rift and Touch owners, from the Oculus Store.

Oculus head of content Jason Rubin, in an announcement made last year, said that "Mission:ISS" is the same simulation NASA astronauts use in training before heading to space. The simulation is a detailed recreation of the International Space Station (ISS) where users can do tasks astronauts do in space such as dock cargo capsules, do spacewalks, and perform mission-critical tasks.

"Mission:ISS is a virtual reality collaboration between Oculus, NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Hollywood visual effects firm Magnopus, in partnership with the three space agencies and Facebook's Oculus, designed the virtual reality simulation software, The Verge reported.

The new "Mission:ISS app was based on 3-D models of the ISS. Additionally, the developers conducted interviews with astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to assist them in recreating the ISS virtual environment as close to the actual station in space as possible.

In addition to tasks performed in the "Mission:ISS" virtual environment, Oculus Touch users will also be provided with information pertaining to the space station's history, as well as hear astronaut's experiences through videos incorporated in the app, According to Space.com.

Accordingly, a beta program will be initiated to provide some high school students in the U.S. access to "Mission:ISS," including hardware necessary to run the program. Additionally, a unit of the Oculus Rift will be sent up to the ISS to be tested by European astronaut Thomas Pesquet. It aims to test the effects of Zero gravity on human spatial awareness and balance developed by the three space agencies.

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