Being in space and looking down at the earth, astronauts are hit with an astounding reality: our planet is a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. It’s a phenomenon known as the Overview Effect.
Space is the final frontier, and everybody should have a chance to be a part of exploring it and, in turn, being influenced by it—to experience the Overview Effect. There’s a lot of excitement about exploring space by the people, for the people, and we can't do it without you. Together we can make the universe accessible to everyone, inspire the next generation of explorers and get people excited about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) fields.
The more supporters we have, the more cool virtual reality experiences we’ll be able to capture in space. And when we get there, you won’t just be a bystander to history; you’ll feel like an active participant, standing side by side with the astronauts. We will all be explorers together.
Overview One is the virtual reality camera that we are sending to the Cupola module, the observation deck of the International Space Station (ISS), to capture immersive virtual reality video – giving you the chance to have the same experience the astronauts get.
Our camera is being developed using space heritage parts (camera CCD sensor and batteries) to get it up and running as quickly, cheaply and efficiently as possible. We have reduced project risk by focusing our attention on solving the human and computer interface problems, since astronaut time is limited.
Watch VR content we've already collected with the Overview One prototype here!
This campaign is about more than putting a virtual reality camera in space; it’s about giving you the chance to explore space and your role in it. This is bigger than a website, an app or being just another VR company – we are a movement.
Pioneering a whole new avenue of space exploration can be time and cost intensive. In order to ensure our 360 camera gets to the ISS, we’ve gone back to the drawing board and simplified the mission parameters.
$100K covers flight certification, launch costs, and 2D 16K resolution footage that will be physically down-massed (returned from space) to Earth 2x per year.
This engineering proof of concept system validates that we can capture content on the ISS from an operational and space certification standpoint using a 1U payload volume with four cameras and zero onboard processing power. The system specifications are as follows:
- 2D 16K resolution footage: Our original 12-camera system was designed to capture 24K footage. This 4-camera system will capture at a resolution of 16K, which still makes our content “future-proof” (current headsets only support up to 4K resolution content).
- SD Card Storage: This scaled down version of the camera will not have a built in CPU. Instead, footage will be captured and stored on SD cards, then later brought back to Earth (instead of compressing and downlinking the footage using ISS communication bandwidth).
- 1U Payload Volume: By reducing the number of cameras and removing the single board computer communicating through 3 USB hubs to a 1 TB solid state drive, we can package all the electronics into this smaller 1000 cubic centimeter (61 cubic inches) volume.
Additional technical details will be released in updates as we get closer to the goals above.
This is the projected timeline for the development and deployment of the Overview One camera. As with any space mission, there may be changes to the schedule as the project progresses -- we will keep you updated of these changes if they occur.
How The SpaceVR Platform Works
The SpaceVR platform will be a repository of space related content, from rocket launches to views of Earth from space. All our VR footage will be processed and added to our collection, which you can access using our native iOS, Android, or web apps, or via existing 3rd party VR platforms.
How Do I View SpaceVR Content
We want to be platform agnostic so you can access our content from whichever device you choose. We are developing our own native iOS and Android apps for use with the Cardboard VR viewers (like the ones that come with our rewards). We will also make SpaceVR content available on existing VR headsets (think FOVE, Oculus, etc).
How Much Will it Cost
Initially, users can purchase individual pieces of content-- immersive experiences around certain events like rocket launches or footage taken in the Cupola module-- that can last up to 2 hours. As we scale we will continue to add a variety of content to our library and our long term goal is to offer subscriptions that give people access to all the VR content available through our platform. Beta testing of the platform will start soon; if you are interested in being a SpaceVR Beta User please sign up here!
As our earliest supporters, our backers are being offered a special discount that will not be offered outside Kickstarter: access to all the VR content SpaceVR captures, forever. The $50 pledge level and above gives you unlimited access to all the immersive space experiences we ever collect.
We know some of you might be skeptical that we can actually pull off a project this ambitious or that a VR headset can truly capture what an astronaut sees and feels. At first some of us were too – that is until we saw the footage of Mars taken by the Curiosity Rover for ourselves and felt like we were there. Rest assured, it’s pretty inspiring and the reactions videos we will be sharing on Facebook and Twitter prove it.
So how does the magic happen? It all starts with the platform: virtual reality. Then it’s all about capturing the right content and then getting it to you.
How Virtual Reality Works
Virtual reality, more commonly known as VR, is an immersive, 3D experience that makes you feel like you’re actually somewhere that you’re not. You’re transported to a virtual world that you feel truly a part of.
Think of it as the difference between watching a SpaceX launch on TV and feeling like you’re actually at Cape Canaveral watching and hearing the rocket takeoff.
The headset itself is a wearable device you put over your eyes that combines all of these components to teleport you to another world.
It’s been widely regarded by innovators that virtual reality is the future, and that its potential for changing how we see and interact with our world (and others) is staggering. Don’t believe us? Ask Elon Musk.
How We’re Capturing the Right Content
There are 6 key steps to getting this from concept to reality:
- Getting space-ready: The first step in the process is to prototype and go through the three Product Lifecycle stages (EVT, DVT, PVT).
- Testing the camera on Earth based systems: It is critical to stress test the design of any space hardware before it launches. We're doing this by launching our camera to the edge of space (60,000 ft), recording the journey and stitching it together into a breathtaking VR experience for our users. This will allow us to identify any issues with the hardware design and improve our stitching process for creating seamless content.
- Sending up parts: After testing we will manufacture one flight-ready Overview One unit and launch it to the International Space Station (ISS) through NanoRacks. NanoRacks specializes in transporting hardware to the ISS and is securing a spot for the Overview One on the flight manifest of a launch vehicle (like SpaceX's Dragon or Orbital Science's Cygnus).
- Lights, Camera, Action: Astronauts will turn on the camera and begin to capture footage from the space station. The first place we will film in is the Cupola module, the observation deck of the ISS. You can see the Earth passing under you from this module.
- Storage, Charging, Downlink: The camera will be stored in a NanoRacks NanoLab. This is where it will charge between uses and downlink data.
- Getting the Killer Content to You: We will down-mass the recorded footage (i.e. bring it back to Earth) and render it. Download the SpaceVR app (in development) and enjoy all the content we collect from space.
Thanks to your feedback, we're introducing Add-Ons! With Add-Ons you can add anything you want to your pledge. Great for gifts!
We are a San Francisco based start-up, in the heart of the New Space and Virtual Reality industry. Our team is filled with NASA scientists, the sixth astronaut to walk on the moon, a private American astronaut (aka the guy who coined the word avatar), space engineers, hackers, geologists, commercial space pioneers and hustlers.
Space exploration has been our passion for our entire lives. We won the world championship trophy from the Mars Society/University Rover Challenge, helped launch WiFi to the Space Station, designed a mission to capture the first image ever from inside Jupiter, founded hackerspaces and space accelerators, cooled atoms to almost -459 Fahrenheit using lasers, developed new life support technology for manned space missions using liquid nitrogen, designed a Lunar Wormbot to burrow into the Moon, organized NASA’s International Space Apps challenge, and even managed to give a killer TEDx talk in our spare time.
We’re a team with the right mix of vision, experience, and passion to succeed where others have failed. We’ve laid all the groundwork and are getting the camera space-ready, but it can only get into orbit with your help.
We are supported by an incredible team of advisors and partners who are all passionate about our mission to bring space exploration to everyone:
After taking in a ton of feedback from our community we decided to end our previous campaign and start anew. The main three things that we changed was the rewards, copy and technical explanations. Instead of going with a subscription based reward structure on this campaign we focused on giving our backers an amazing deal for joining early: Unlimited SpaceVR Content. We changed the copy to talk more about the team and our experience. We improve the technical description of both the execution and actual camera we're going to use. Let's work together and bring space to everyone!
Risks and challenges
As with any project involving space travel, there are challenges that we will have to tackle. We are doing everything that we can to minimize the risks and will make adjustments as necessary (and keep you updated), if we run into any obstacles.
First, the ship dates we have provided are our current estimates—there may be some changes to when we are able to deliver rewards as the project progresses. This could be due to a number of factors, like launch date slips, or delays while the camera is on-orbit. We will do our best to notify you of any such changes via Kickstarter.com, the SpaceVR website, and/or any email address that you have provided.
Second, since we will be launching the Overview One on a vehicle controlled by another organization, there could be potential launch delays for reasons outside of our control. We have teamed up with NanoRacks to reduce these risks as much as possible.
Third, rockets can fail. There is a small chance that our payload could be lost during launch. If that is the case, we will make every effort to get a second payload on the next available flight. There is also a low risk of damage to the camera due to vibrations during launch.
Fourth, our goal is to get your rewards to you as they become available, but it still may take some time to distribute all the rewards properly. That said, we kindly ask for your patience as we distribute the rewards. We will be sure to keep you updated via email about the status of your reward.
Fifth, while we are confident that we can deliver all the rewards offered, there is a chance that we will run into some unforeseen obstacles (e.g. alien invasions). If that should happen and we are unable to fulfill your promised reward, we will offer a fair substitution of the reward, or we will provide a full refund of your pledge upon request.
Sixth, our original intent when we started the company was to create a live streaming virtual reality camera on the International Space Station. Given the data downlinking limitations to make that possible we would need a direct partnership with NASA. This is a goal we wish to pursue and we believe we can demonstrate enough value through inspiring people about space to provide grounds for such a partnership.
Seventh, astronaut time is an extremely valuable commodity. We're working with NanoRacks to find the best and more efficient way to utilize astronaut time to capture the best content possible.
Lastly, there are a few operational risks as space missions are never easy. Our hardware could be delayed because of requirement changes, additional testing needs, or fabrication challenges. On orbit, there could be communication outages (either due to space weather or restrictions by CASIS/NASA), camera module failure, or radiation damage. The likelihood of this happening is low, as our technical team, mentors, and advisors are highly skilled engineers who have extensive experience in space mission design.
This is our opportunity to create the future of space exploration. We can only do this with your help! Back the Kickstarter and let's do this together!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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