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A virtual tour of Marcus’s space home

Written by  Monday, 11 September 2023 18:37
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A virtual tour of Marcus’s space home Image: A virtual tour of Marcus’s space home

ESA project astronautMarcus Wandtgets a taste of how his new home in space looks like during training at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. 

Marcus, to the right in this image, wears a headset with the latest generation of mixed reality to immerse himself in a simulated 3D environment of the International Space Station. The mixed reality setup allows users to interact with both digital and physical objects.

Using hand controllers, he grasps objects, find his way around the modules like in microgravity, and takes a look at Earth from the European-built Cupola. Before virtually floating inside the Space Station, Marcus went on a simulated spacewalk to improve his orientation in outer space.

This ESA training prepares him for life and work in space, practising how to orientate himself between modules – there is no up or down in orbit – operating payloads, extinguishing a fire and closing hatches in zero-gravity, all while never leaving the ground. Marcus navigated a digital environment that reflects the current configuration of the International Space Station.

The virtual reality experience was the first of its kind and involved five other users connected across Europe and interacting with Marcus in real time. The software, co-developed by Norwegian company Pale Blue, has been tested on parabolic flights. These flights reproduce zero gravity conditions in an airplane that executes repeated roller coaster parabolas.

The Swedish project astronaut will travel to the Space Station on Axiom Mission 3 no earlier than January 2024. Marcus is the first of ESA’s new astronauts to jump on a commercial spaceflight. His mission, called Muninn, is supported by ESA and the Swedish National Space Agency.

Selected as a member of the ESA astronaut reserve in November 2022, Marcus embarked on intensive training for his mission in May 2023, travelling to training facilities and space centres across the globe.

“I am doing the training backwards, starting at the end because that is the most important for the actual mission,” explains Marcus in a recent blog post. Since he is flying on a 14-day mission, his lessons combine basic and mission training in Europe, USA, Canada and Japan.

Follow Marcus’s space journey on ESA’s Exploration blog, X and Instagram.

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