Humans have been living, working, and conducting science experiments on the International Space Station for nearly 20 years -- but even this feat of engineering needs upgrades sometimes.
Among the 8,000 pounds of supplies launching to the International Space Station Friday night is a new 360-degree virtual reality camera that can be used to capture spacewalks in all their glory so that we might know what it's like to walk outside the space station, is also launching.
If you've ever watched astronauts conducting a spacewalk outside of the space station and wanted to know what it was like, a new camera will capture that experience in immersive 3D.
Felix & Paul Studios, helmed by creative directors Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael, have partnered with the ISS National Lab in its ongoing "ISS Experience" virtual reality series. They previously sent up a camera in 2018 to document life inside the space station.
The ISS Experience camera, here being tested on the ground prior to launch, was designed to capture in 360 degrees a spacewalk from the space station.
Now, the team, along with commercial partner Nanoracks, has modified a camera to withstand exposure to space and handle variable light exposure as the station passes through various sunrises and sunsets each day.
The camera will be mounted on the robotic arm Canadarm2 and film a spacewalk, from beginning to end, as well as the exterior of the space station and perspectives of the Earth.
These will be included in the final episodes of the series "Space Explorers: The ISS Experience." It will be available to watch on multiple platforms.
"This new EVA camera will enable that 3D immersive experience during a spacewalk," Meir said. "Spacewalks are the most challenging things that we do, both mentally and physically, and also the most exciting. You're out there in your own little spacecraft looking down on Earth with nothing between the void of space except for the thin visor of your helmet."
Meir participated in multiple spacewalks, including the first all-female spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch in 2019.
Taking this camera outside of the space station after seeing the power of it inside the station will really make people feel like they're there, Morgan said. He also sees potential for the camera to be used as a way to train astronauts as they prepare for spacewalks.