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NASA Announces World’s First VR-Compatible, 360-Degree Rocket Launch Video Coverage On April 18

16 April 2017, 9:47 am EDT By Luan Chan Tech Times
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ISS astronauts display how to construct a pizza in zero gravity

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is generous when it comes to sharing its experiences, especially when it comes to space exploration and discoveries.

Aside from NASA's dedication to bringing humans to space, however, the agency also favors using the latest technology to bring civilians closer to their work to promote better understanding. Now the agency has announced that it will be broadcasting the world's first 360-degree stream of the cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station and everyone can be a part of it.

What Is The Orbital ATK Mission?

The Orbital ATK Cygnus rocket launch is the seventh commercial resupply mission (CRS-7) to the ISS and it will transport crew supplies, science experiments, and equipment, among other things, to the astronauts in space.

The Orbital ATK mission, previously scheduled for March 27, was postponed because of a booster hydraulic issue during the prelaunch testing phase. On April 3, United Launch Alliance confirmed that it has already developed a plan to resolve the hydraulic booster issue so the new April 18 schedule would not be postponed unless a new issue arises.

What's The Deal With This 'World's First' Coverage?

People are probably wondering why NASA pointed out that the launch coverage would be a "world's first" since the agency has already been streaming many of its launch and ISS activities, but the April 18 launch is truly different for two reasons.

First, the coverage will be available in 360 degrees, which means that viewers have control over where to pan or zoom the camera during the live broadcast. This would be a more interesting experience since watchers can also take a look at other things, such as the flurry of ground activity within the Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Those viewing from their homes or offices can just use their mouse or other peripheral device to move the camera up, down, left, or right.

Second — and the cooler reason — is that the April 18 launch will be a more immersive experience. Just how immersive? Well, watchers who own a virtual reality headset can just wear it and launch the YouTube application in their mobile device, and they will find themselves transported to the base of the rocket as if they were really at the launch site.

"Minimum viewing distance is typically miles away from the launch pad, but the live 360 stream enables viewers to get a pads-eye view," NASA says.

When And How To Watch

The CRS-7 mission is scheduled on April 18 at 11:11 A.M. EDT (8:11 A.M. PST) but the live stream will begin 10 minutes before lift-off at NASA's YouTube channel.

NASA warns, however, that not all browsers are able to support 360-degree videos so it recommends viewing from Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera browsers.

Those who are unable to make it on time can still experience the launch at a later time since YouTube supports 360-degree video playback.

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