Houston is the home to human spaceflight, and it is fitting that it would be the first place in the US to feature a one-of-a-kind, multi-sensory, interactive virtual reality experience exploring inside and outside the world’s orbiting space laboratory--the International Space Station.
Produced by INFINITY EXPERIENCES, a joint venture of PHI Studio and Felix & Paul Studios, THE INFINITE redefines the frontiers of the user experience by allowing visitors to roam freely inside a life-scale replica of the International Space Station.
The exhibit is located at 2000 Edwards St. Gate A at Sawyer Yards near east downtown and runs until April 17. The standard VR experience is for visitors 8-years-old and older. However, there are also options available for those with special needs or accommodations.
“The response to THE INFINITE from the Houston community has been overwhelming. For astronauts, this is an opportunity to virtually go back to the Space Station they lived on. For mission operatives and engineers, it is an opportunity to travel to space and experience the unique environment that they helped build and put into operation. For the general audience, it is an opportunity to travel to space, emotionally connect with the astronauts, and gaze down upon the Earth,” emphasized Stéphane Rituit, CO-CEO of Infinity Experiences Inc. “Given the success attained thus far, it was an easy decision for us to extend the experience to accommodate demand. We now hope that many new and returning guests will take the opportunity to visit the ISS aboard THE INFINITE before it leaves Space City.”
The Infinite has guests experience the journey from the launchpad to the ISS and back to earth.
Guests start at the launchpad where they listen to NASA Astronaut Anne McClain recount her experiences on the launchpad. Guests then proceed to the “onboarding” area of the experience where guests are equipped with virtual reality equipment.
The experience is also accessible for those who use wheelchairs as well. There is also an option of doing a stationary experience for children under 8.
“You get these magnificent views of planet earth from outer space,” said Eric Albert Infinity Experiences Inc. Co-CEO. “It’s a moment for people to reflect and take a step back.”
Albert said the idea came after brainstorming what to do with the incredible content that was being shot at the International Space Station. The Infinite is an experience put together through a collaboration between multiple entities.
“Three years ago, Felix & Paul Studios, a virtual reality studio in Montreal, sent up cameras to the International Space Station,” Albert said. “We’ve been filming for three years now both inside and outside the International Space Station. We wanted to get a way to have as many people as possible experience this amazing content. We came up with the idea of building a large-scale installation like this, so that we could have as many people as possible come through to see it. The cameras that were sent up to space were specifically built to go into space. There is a camera also located outside the ISS and placed on the Canadarm2 robotic arm to film the up-close shots of the spacewalks. Years of 8K video was translated into this immersive VR experience.”
Visitors are able to roam freely and touch 60 VR “orbs,” which, once touched, opens up a learning experience or snapshot of an experience at the ISS captured on the cameras.
“There’s a lot of human conversations and reflections from the astronauts of what it’s like living when they’re up there,” Albert said. “An important element (is that) we wanted to explore the human aspect of space exploration.”
Crew members worked with film producers on Earth to get the shots they needed.
Astronauts who worked on the experience include Anne McClain, Christina Hammock Koch, Nick Hague, Jessica Meir, Andrew R. Morgan, Victor J. Glover, Chris Cassidy, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Kathleen Rubins, Shannon Walker, and Michael Hopkins. It also included input from the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
After visitors explore the ISS, the VR equipment guides the visitors to sit down and experience a spacewalk up close.
“This spacewalk was actually filmed in August of 2021,” Albert said. “You get to live what the astronauts are living.”Visitors will then get rid of the VR equipment, which then goes on a conveyer belt to get sanitized. They will then experience three carefully curated art installations.”It’s really meant to bring you back to earth,” Albert said.
Cannot wait to show you this truly profound and beautiful experience. The Infinite - On Tour gives you such hard-to-get access of the views from space at the ISS. This is just a taste of the VR experience. This is one of the art installations AFTER you explore the ISS. Story at 5!Posted by KPRC2 Rose-Ann Aragon on Wednesday, March 16, 2022
The first installation was by a Japanese artist who aimed to give guests the experience of a black hole “universe within a universe.” The next installation made by a Montreal artist aims to portray a wormhole. Finally, the last art installation is meant to have visitors experience Earth’s sounds, looks and even scents.
The Infinite experience will run through April 17. It will then move on to the Seattle area. Click here for more information.