The BBC is getting in on the virtual reality game, with the launch of a new VR spacewalk experience.
Produced by the BBC and VR production studio REWIND, Home – A VR Spacewalk is an interactive experience that blasts off today for the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, and is available to download for free via the Steam Store and the Oculus Store.
Inspired by the NASA training programs used by British astronaut Tim Peake, Home enables would-be astronauts to embark on a spacewalk 250 miles above the Earth’s surface, something only 217 people have ever done. They are tasked with making a repair on the outside of the International Space Station, before being confronted with a terrifying emergency situation.
Trying the experience for himself, Tim Peake says: “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 VR experience the BBC has released for the HTC Vive.
To mark the launch, a spectacular series of 360 films has been 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 visiting space.
Tom Burton, head of interactive and virtual reality for BBC Studios and director of Home – A VR Spacewalk, adds: “Home represents the very best of the BBC, bringing brilliant creative together with cutting edge technologies to create an experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Making this experience available to those who have the devices will give people a taste of what it must be like to visit the International Space Station and walk in space for real.”
Zillah Watson, head of content commissioning for the BBC’s recently launched VR Hub, comments: “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. 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.”