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Astronauts work with Ørsted to create free VR experience

Ørsted, an energy company, worked with several astronauts to release Space Safari, a free VR experience that sends participants on a space mission.

The aim of the project is to shift the way people see themselves as the Earth, to spur action. This is a great project, and it reminds me of a cultural event some time ago. It involves one of the most famous photographs in history, and its impact on environmental activism.

The Blue Marble

One of the most famous images in the world is The Blue Marble, taken on 7 December 1972. Photographed by the Apollo 17 crew, it shows our earth without barriers or borders; only united, small, and fragile.

The timing of the photograph is noteworthy. The crew took it at a time when environmental activism was picking up the pace, with citizens stamping into the streets and calling for changes to protect the planet. The Blue Marble showed a lonely Earth in an endless void; an inspiring image for anyone who wanted to see the planet for what it is. The right picture at the right time can inspire a generation to rise up.

“When I saw the Earth from space, it was just a small blue drop of water in the vast universe. That view changed my perception of myself and the world. I returned to Earth with a newfound love for this home of ours and all living creatures on it – but also with genuine concern for the future of our planet,” says Mike Massimino, one of the astronauts that participated in the project.

That sense of wonderment and oneness is what I suspect Ørsted wished to tap into. By observing the planet as an astronaut would, and seeing the earth in its pristine beauty, people can be spurred to take action once again.

What is Space Safari?

Space Safari is a free VR experience that lets the user travel through space and observe the Earth. It has been designed to emulate what astronauts call the ‘overview effect’,the sense of belonging when seeing the planet from miles and miles away.

The experience launches today, and it is available on all platforms. It is also available to watch on YouTube, for anyone who does not have a VR headset.

It is a great watch, and I recommend anyone with an interest in space to take a look today.

The UK version can be found below, voiced by Helen Sharman: