Broadcasts from the International Space Station (ISS) more often than not come from a fixed location aboard the orbiting satellite, with the astronauts usually the center of attention.
A fabulous new 18-minute video from NASA, however, makes the space station itself the star of the show, taking viewers on a fascinating tour of its myriad of modules and facilities – all presented in ultra-high definition.
Described by NASA as “larger than a six-bedroom house,” the space station has been permanently crewed since 2000. However, don’t expect to see any astronauts in the video – the entire crew, which can consist of up to ten people, all remain well out of shot throughout.
The gentle fisheye-lens flythrough, which comes with a hypnotically soothing soundtrack, begins in the space station’s seven-window Cupola observatory module, the place where astronauts come to ponder life, the universe, and everything. Or simply to grab a few jaw-dropping shots of Earth.
So that we know exactly what we’re looking at, written explanations appear throughout the video alongside a small map of the entire station highlighting our precise location.
The Destiny Module is particularly impressive, with the small space absolutely choc full of gear, among it a robotic workstation used to control the Canadarm2 outside the space station. We also get to visit the Columbus Science Laboratory, home to the bioloab used for experiments with microorganisms, cells, and plants.
The high production values certainly give the video a cinematic feel, so much so that you half expect a Hollywood A-lister – or perhaps more dramatically an absurdly hideous, troublemaking alien – to fly into shot, with a jarring switch of soundtrack launching us into a full-on action sequence. But instead we’re offered a serene, gentle-paced tour that shows off the space station in incredible detail. Look out for the waiting meal inside the Unity Module, the astronaut’s sleeping quarters, the microgravity glovebox for conducting experiments with hazardous materials, and the airlock where U.S. space walks start and finish. Heck, we even get to see the metal canisters used for storing human waste!
While the European Space Agency recently offered up some great panoramic images from inside the ISS, the NASA video, with its pin-sharp pictures and POV travel through the satellite, gives us Earth-based space fans the best idea yet of what it must be like to actually be on board the International Space Station.