Want to Feel Like an Astronaut? SpaceVR Says It Can Help

Eric Johnson
Experience outerspace through virtual reality

Going to space changes people. In fact, there's a name for this change, The Overview Effect.

A San Francisco startup called SpaceVR wants to make the perspective granted by the Overview Effect accessible to the non-astronaut public. The company is launching a Kickstarter campaign tomorrow to put a 360-degree camera on the International Space Station.

As the name suggests, SpaceVR expects people to watch the footage that camera captures in a virtual reality headset such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. CEO Ryan Holmes said the company is working with NanoRacks, which facilitates the placement of private tech and research onto the ISS, to put a simple-to-operate 3-D camera in the observatory section known as the Cupola.

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Like other companies getting into VR content, the hope is that the immersion of virtual reality will offer customers something that looking at still pictures or browsing Google Earth cannot.

At first, this camera will be used to capture four one-hour videos of the Earth passing by per month, Holmes said, which the company's partners will then be able to pass down to Earth over a wireless downlink. Online access to these unique videos will cost $10 per month. But eventually, SpaceVR wants to offer a 24-7 live stream of the view of the Earth passing by.

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And the long-term vision: Putting VR cameras inside CubeSats, small lightweight satellites, and letting users control where they drift — in other words, the Overview Effect, as a service.

By Eric Johnson, Re/

CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

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