SpaceVR has signed a launch agreement to send its virtual reality satellite to the International Space Station using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2017. The small startup has contracted NanoRacks — a company that runs the commercial laboratory aboard the International Space Station — to prepare Overview 1, SpaceVR’s twin-camera cube satellite, for release into low Earth orbit using NanoRacks’ CubeSat Deployer. Overview 1 will head to the ISS inside one of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsules during the CRS-12 resupply mission, which is expected to launch early next summer.
SpaceVR originally took off as a Kickstarter in 2015. Back then the plan was to send a 12-camera rig to the ISS that would be capable of shooting 3D, 360-degree footage. But the crowdfunding campaign fell so far short of the $500,000 goal that SpaceVR canceled the effort after about a month. It retooled its goals and tried again, this time fulfilling a more modest $100,000 goal. Then, this past April, the company announced that it had received an investment of $1.25 million. SpaceVR said it was putting that money toward integrating two cameras into a small cube satellite that will independently orbit the Earth, making it what SpaceVR calls the “world’s first virtual reality camera satellite.”
The “world’s first virtual reality camera satellite”
“We have a radio, we have an attitude control system, we have reaction wheels and gyroscopes that maintain stability, and we have flight controller software that tells the satellite what to do and when,” SpaceVR CEO Ryan Holmes told The Verge in April. SpaceVR will have full control over Overview 1 once it is ejected from the CubeSat Deployer on the ISS. The company will take the footage from the cameras and stitch it all into a 360-degree sphere, with live-streaming being the ultimate goal for the company.
SpaceVR wants to sell subscriptions to that footage, which will “immerse someone in space as if they were floating outside,” according to Holmes. With the launch agreement in place, the company appears to finally be ready to deliver on that promise.