SpaceVR, a virtual space tourism startup, has come to a launch agreement with NanoRacks that will see the world’s first virtual reality camera satellite launch in 2017.

According to an announcement this Monday, the company’s Overview 1 satellite will be launched  to the International Space Station (ISS) on board the SpaceX CRS-12 Mission in 2017.

SpaceVR, VR Camera Satellite
Image source: SpaceVR.com

SpaceVR and NanoRacks reach agreement

Once on board the ISS the satellite will be readied for Low Earth Orbit and deployed by the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. The commercial laboratory on board the ISS is run by NanoRacks, a company that has been working in conjunction with SpaceVR since 2015.

Full control of the satellite will be passed to Space VR when it has left the ISS.

“My dream, when I first had this idea at a hackathon 1.5 years ago, was to launch a VR satellite with NanoRacks. It seemed crazy and borderline unachievable. Now we are signed, paid, and moving towards something exponentially more borderline unachievable,” founder and CEO of SpaceVR Ryan Holmes said in a statement.

High-quality video footage to be made available in VR

The Overview 1 satellite will have 4K sensors that allow it to capture high resolution, fully immersive, 360-degree videos of the view of Earth from space. This content will then be made available on virtual reality platforms such as smartphones, Oculus Rift and StarVR.

Holmes says that the footage will “immerse someone in space as if they were floating outside.” The company aims to charge a subscription fee in return for access to the footage.

“We are delighted that yet another innovative space company has chosen NanoRacks to realize their in-space dreams. SpaceVR promises to open a new era in connecting consumers worldwide to the beauty of outer space and we are ready to be part of that effort,” NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber said.

Project comes to life after $1.25 million in funding

SpaceVR had previously planned to send a 3D, 360-degree camera rig with 12 cameras to the ISS in 2015. However a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter failed to reach the $500,000 goal and the plug was pulled on the project.

However this April SpaceVR received investment of almost $1.25 million. The money was used to fund this project.

The tie-up with NanoRacks is important as the company has a lot of history with space launches. Since its formation in 2009 the ccompany has been sending care packages to the ISS in order to keep the on board experiments ticking over.

NanoRacks has launched more than 350 payloads, and has a huge amount of relevant expertise. This particular future mission could allow us to experience space from the comfort of our own homes.

Virtual reality technology continues to come on leaps and bounds, but this launch will mark a major frontier for the technology. While it is impossible to say whether the content will be a commercial success, it is amazing to think that we could be fully immersed in 360-degree video.

More and more companies are producing 360-degree content, but SpaceVR will be the first to do so from space. For space fans or those with an interest in the development of virtual reality technology, the project is very interesting indeed.

Personally I can’t wait to try it when the satellite gets into orbit in 2017. Watch this space for the latest news.