If you ever wanted to “experience” space but don’t have the $250,000 to secure your spot on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity’s spacecraft, then you might want to try the next-best-thing: Virtual Reality. Oculus Touch has partnered with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency to develop a VR simulation that educates users on what it’s like to be an astronaut onboard the International Space Station.

Mission: ISS

Whether it’s simulating zero-gravity movement or allowing users to experience views of earth from orbit, Mission: ISS is an application that provides users with fully immersive space exploration. Powered by top-of-the-line Oculus Rift VR technology, users can learn the history of ISS and experience real-life astronauts tell their personal accounts of being in space in a highly-stimulating 360-degree video presentation.

Designed by Los Angeles-based Magnopus at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, users can “use their virtual hands to dock incoming cargo capsules, conduct spacewalks, and perform mission-critical tasks,” according to The Oculus Team. “This visceral interstellar experience also marks a cornerstone in interactive education.” With plans to bring the VR world into the High School classroom, Mission: ISS will be developed as a revolutionary educational app – poised to blow the socks off students interested in space travel.

Oculus Rift VR in Space

Plans are already in place to use the Oculus Rift VR headset by CNES (The French Space Agency) aboard the International Space Station. Hoping to study the effects zero gravity has on human spatial awareness and balance, it appears that virtual reality is quickly becoming a welcomed technology at NASA. One thing is for sure, the more we engage students around the space, the more attractive commercialized spaceflight becomes – to the delight of both Richard Branson and Elon Musk.

With only 588 people ever to have been to space, Virgin Galactic’s mission is simple: to revolutionize space travel by offering it to everyday citizens. After their most recent successful glide test of its VSS Unity, the first spaceship manufactured by the company, VG is one step close to achieving its goal to democratize space travel. According to a recent press release by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), “this successful flight is a great accomplishment by Virgin Galactic and another exciting step forward on the road to the coming era of commercial suborbital spaceflight,” said Alan Stern, Chairman of the Board of CSF.

R & D Benefits to Commercial Spaceflight

From using the International Space Station as a zero-gravity testing ground for VR technology to allowing private company’s the ability to perform microgravity research and development, there’s a growing list of practical reasons to back the commercial spaceflight industry. William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Explorations Directorate said, “NASA is focused on developing the next generation of hardware and skills that will allow us to extend human presence in the solar system beyond low-Earth orbit.”

Other industries that stand to benefit from commercial spaceflights (outside of Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality): pharmaceuticals and materials science. With vaccine development already underway on the Space Station, low-Earth orbit scientific experiments could transform certain high-tech sectors.

The Impact of Virtual Reality Technology

Mission: ISS was designed to create a fully immersive space experience using Oculus’ groundbreaking Rift VR technology. This project stands to disrupt High School classrooms across the world and at the same time, may solve zero-gravity orientation issues. The one thing it’s definitely doing: making commercialized spaceflight all the more intriguing.

Sources: New Atlas, Oculus, Virgin Galactic