BBC Takes You To Space In VR

Launch into space with this BBC spacewalk experience.

Have you ever dreamed of walking in space? Well now your dreams can finally come true, thanks to the latest release of a VR spacewalk experience from the BBC.

Inspired by NASA and ESA training programs and the experiences of real astronauts, Home – A VR Spacewalk enables you would-be astronaut to embark on a spacewalk 250 miles above Earth’s surface, something only 217 people have ever done in real-life. You are tasked with making a repair on the outside of the International Space Station, before being confronted with a terrifying emergency situation. You’ll even be able to monitor your heart rate as you plunge into the emergency scenario, using a jet-pack to make your way home to the International Space Station.

Rewind collaborated with the BBC Science, BBC Learning and BBC Digital Storytelling to create the cinematic and fully interactive 15-minute VR experience.

The experience was built in 1:1 scale within Unreal Engine. You can check out a short behind the scenes below:

Trying the experience for himself, astronaut Tim Peake reflects: “Exploring space is something that motivates a lot of young people to enter careers in science and technology. This is a really exciting time because the new generation will have unprecedented opportunities to really fly into space. The Home Virtual Reality experience brings that opportunity even closer, in a very authentic and accessible way. I hope that having this chance to engage in such a realistic spacewalk experience will help inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.”

Since being originally developed by the BBC and REWIND in 2016, Home – A VR Spacewalk has won multiple awards, including a Cannes Lion, and has been shown at film festivals around the world. Its launch is the first time it has been made available to the public, and it is the first experience the BBC has released for the HTC Vive.

To mark the launch, a series of 360° films were produced using footage from the experience. Viewers are able to look around as they float above the earth, while astronauts Dr Helen Patricia Sharman, Luca Parmitano and Ron Garan recount their real-life experiences of walking in space.

“Using a powerful narrative alongside immersive technology, it entertains and delights audiences,” said Sol Rogers, CEO of REWIND. “It has also been considered as close as it gets to being in space by NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, and now Tim Peake has given it the thumbs up.”

“Home is an extraordinary piece of content that enables viewers to get as close an experience as possible to what it must really be like to visit space,” said Zillah Watson, head of content commissioning for the BBC’s recently launched VR Hub. “In the future, we’ll be looking to use the lessons we’ve learned in making fantastic pieces of content like this to develop even more impressive, immersive and inspiring experiences for audiences.”

The experience is now available for both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. You can download it for free via Steam VR and Oculus Home. 

About the Scout

Alaster Armitage-Brain

Alaster is the UK Editor-at-Large for VRScout. Outside of VRScout he is producing VR content for leading brands around the world.

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