Astronaut Tim Peake has landed in Manchester. The British spaceman has partnered up with Samsung and the Science Museum for a VR experience tour of the UK.
The experience, called Space Descent, is at the Museum of Science and Industry and gives users a sense of what it was like for Peake to make the journey from space back down to earth.
The experience is in Manchester until Sunday May 13 and tickets are £7. MM went to see if it was worth the hype.
For those who don’t know what VR is, it is basically a way of immersing yourself in a 3D world using a motion-sensing computer. In this case you are immersed in the Russian-made Soyuz Descent Module which brought Peake safely back to earth in 2016.
The experience lasts about 12 minutes and does prompt some nerves beforehand, probably not dissimilar to those Peake felt as he was about to fall back to earth.
The VR experience is led by Peake, via visual and audio descriptions in the Samsung VR lounge – a large black box with nine swivel office chairs.
You are told to get comfortable and enjoy the ride, as you strap on the headphones and Gear headset. The headset contains a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone, which has the VR experience on its screen in surprisingly good detail.
Helena Vesty took a trip to the VR lounge, commenting: “I thought it was really enthralling, it’s just exciting to see what’s beyond our world.”
After a countdown, you are flung through space as you detach from the international space station. The whole experience is very immersive, as you turn your head and can see in one direction the station and in the other a deep blackness, littered with stars.
OUT-ER THIS WORLD
The serenity was interrupted slightly when the staff running the VR lounge played the Tim Peake intro video after the experience had already begun.
Any technical hitches were left in outer space though, as the capsule hurtled along at 27,000kmph towards earth. One of the best parts about the whole thing is the beautiful sunrise, which if you turn left and right you can see out of the two small windows.
One visitor to Space Descent, Dan Ladden-Hall, said: “It was one of the most thrilling museum exhibits I’ve ever been to in my life.”
The actual cabin you are in seems very true to life and despite being displayed on just a phone screen, seems very real. Alchemy VR and Atlantic productions have done a cracking job on the footage, as you really do feel as though you are taking the journey back to earth.
Samsung spokesman, Sam Grant, said: “There’s clearly an appetite for using technology in ways that transform how we learn.”
Want to try this? Students studying for their Masters or PhD can now submit a team proposal to @esa to ‘Fly Your Thesis’ & perform an experiment in microgravity. Go for it! https://t.co/AmLTDjuUnR pic.twitter.com/ur7wrfqktp
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) May 2, 2018
The experience is perfect for young children and there are quite a few school trips to the exhibit.
For families, young people and anyone who likes space or VR, it is certainly worth the trip over to the Museum of Science and Industry.
Through the tour, Samsung say they hope to “spark curiosity and life-long learning.” Using VR technology could definitely be a way to make museums more accessible places, especially for young people or those with learning difficulties.
Joseph Timan visited Space Descent with friends and said: “It was very informative, VR is always very exciting.”
VR is very exciting and is already being widely used in gaming. Over the next couple of years, we will continue to see its potential being unlocked for learning purposes.
The possibilities are endless. In the words of Tim Peake: “It really is breathtaking… truly very close to the real thing.”