BBC joins the VR party with terrifying spacewalk experience

It’s time to face the facts – those space tourism dreams you’ve been holding onto since childhood probably aren’t going to happen in your lifetime.

But so what? Thanks to VR you don’t need to be able to enjoy a summer vacation to Mars or enjoy a long weekend on the moon, you can go wherever you want, whenever you want.

With that in mind, the BBC has launched a VR spacewalk experience inspired by NASA’s training programme that’ll put you in the (space) shoes of astronauts like Tim Peake.

Dubbed ‘Home: A VR Spacewalk’, the virtual reality experience is compatible with the HTC Vive headset and has been built using the Unreal 4 game engine.

Plonking users on the International Space Station, the experience lets you look down on earth and out into the depths of space, with your headset-equipped movements transformed into in-experience actions.

Once you’ve got your bearings, you’re required to partake in a space walk and tackle a terrifying emergency situation like something straight from Gravity.

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Home: A VR Spacewalk

One of the more advanced VR experiences doing the rounds, Home incorporates haptic feedback and biometric sensors that monitor users’ heart rates.

Tasked with keeping your cool while faced catastrophe, if your heart rate raises too high you’ll fail your mission and the experience will reset.

Despite the broadcaster having previously dabbled in 360-degree video content for Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard headsets, the Beeb, who collaborated on the experience with VR studio, Rewind, describes Home: A VR Spacewalk as its “first steps into virtual reality content.”

“We’ve taken all the storytelling power of the BBC and applied that behind it, so there’s a great script, a great narrative, and we’ve also looked at all the cutting edge explorations people are doing around VR in terms of biomonitoring, haptic feedback et cetera, and trying to bring that into it,” said Tom Durton of the BBC’s digital storytelling team.

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Home: A VR Spacewalk

Rewind founder and CEO Sol Rodgers added: “We are extremely proud of this piece of ground breaking experimental VRX (Virtual Reality Experience) that will bring the wonder of walking in space to everyone who tries it.

“Some of the most advanced visual effects currently available in VR, accompanied with spatial audio have been used to create an incredibly visceral piece of content.”

Although the BBC has yet to announce an official release date for the VR Spacewalk experience, an official spokesperson reportedly told IBTimes it would hit the Steam Store “within the next couple of months.”

Pricing is still unclear.

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What type of VR experiences are you holding out for? Let us know in the comments

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