Mission: ISS — a virtual reality collaboration between Oculus and three space agencies — is now available for free to Oculus Rift and Touch owners. The experience is a detailed recreation of the International Space Station where participants can do things like dock cargo capsules, conduct spacewalks, and “perform mission-critical tasks” just like real astronauts. It was designed by visual effects studio Magnopus in partnership with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, based on NASA space station models and conversations with astronauts.
When Mission: ISS was announced last year, Oculus head of content Jason Rubin said it was the same simulation NASA astronauts have been using to train ahead of their trip to space. This is hardly NASA’s first work with virtual reality — it played a key role in creating VR as we know it in the 1980s and 1990s, which gave us this amazing picture. It also helped create a Mars exploration experience called Mars 2030, and was involved in a previous ISS-themed experience called Earthlight. This effort seems more explicitly educational than Earthlight, though; Oculus is running a pilot program that will give high school students in the US “direct access” to Mission: ISS.
While Oculus hopes to bring space down to Earth, Oculus is releasing Mission: ISS not too long after sending one of its Oculus Rift headsets to space in a partnership with French space agency CNES. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet will use it to “test the effects of zero-gravity on human spatial awareness and balance,” which frankly sounds somewhat nauseating. Oculus did not immediately reply to questions about how to get the awesome VR-themed space badge shown on this custom carrying case.