“People who have been to the space station, helped build it, they can’t tell the difference,” says James Bonner, co-founder of Opaque Space, the developer behind the simulation.
At Johnson, astronauts are hooked up to ropes to simulate zero-gravity and can then use Opaque’s VR software to practice fixing parts of the space station.
A version of the experience will also be installed at Scienceworks in time for the school holidays. It can also be bought by anyone who owns their own VR headset.
To get to space, you strap a large computer to your back (astronauts wear bulky backpacks, so this feels quite natural) and pull on a pair of commercial VR goggles. And there, hanging in inky black virtual space, is the space station.
You can pull yourself across it using handholds. Let go and you’ll float towards the Earth’s atmosphere – and burn up.