SpaceVR wants to bring the universe to your living room. How? by deploying the world’s first virtual reality (VR) platform in space, of course! The company is one step closer to this goal, having signed an agreement with investor and partner NanoRacks to launch its first VR camera satellite, Overview 1, in 2017. Once the camera is in place, the company can begin helping people virtually realize their dream of being an astronaut.
SpaceVR has traveled a rocky road to get this celebratory point. The startup attempted to raise funds for its VR system via Kickstarter in 2015 but failed to secure the $500,000 necessary to reach its goal. Progress on the project was slowed while the company lowered its target to $100,000 in a second Kickstarter campaign and sought alternative funding sources. A $1.25 million seed round investment provided by Chinese investment firm Shanda Group jump started the project, allowing the team to move faster on important tasks such as developing the satellite camera software, preparing the content delivery channels and investing in the satellite communication networks.
SpaceVR originally planned to install a 12-camera system on the International Space Station, but the plans were modified when the new funding was made available to the company. The new plan calls for the deployment of the Overview 1 virtual reality camera satellite in low earth orbit. Instead of a 12-camera rig, the Overview 1 is a small cube satellite that has two high-resolution 4K sensors with wide field of view lenses. The Overview 1 satellite will be delivered to the International Space Station via the SpaceX CRS-12 Mission in 2017. NanoRack, which runs a commercial lab on the ISS, will receive the satellite and deploy the Overview 1 using its CubeSat deployer. Once it is deployed, SpaceVR will have full control over the satellite including both altitude and flight control.
The Overview 1 satellite will be equipped with 4K sensors capable of capturing high resolution, 3D video of our beautiful planet. This content will be compiled by SpaceVR into a 360-degree panorama and then served up to VR users worldwide. The immersive video will be accessible to a broad range of virtual reality device including the high-resolution StarVR, the consumer Oculus Rift, and even smartphones.