The first space tourists aren’t set to blast off until 2018, but there’s now a new way to experience the wonders of space from your own, comfy home planet. Google unveiled its newest Street View location yesterday: the International Space Station.
Google’s offering 13 views of the space station, showing everything from the observation deck, to laboratories, to the astronauts’ quarters. The 360-degree images are stunning, especially considering they weren’t captured on Earth. Like all other Google Street Views, the images of the space station are interactive, so you can move between rooms like you're there personally. The images are also annotated, so you can learn about what actually goes on up in space, including what the astronauts eat and how they work out.
Not surprisingly, the process to get these photos was a little complicated. According to Google, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent six months aboard the station as a flight engineer. While there, he also snapped pictures for Street View, and had to figure out how to capture the images in zero gravity (no big deal, right?).
“Because of the particular constraints of living and working in space, it wasn't possible to collect Street View using Google's usual methods,” Pesquet wrote in a Google blog post. “Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS.”
After Pesquet snapped the photos, he sent them down to Earth, where they were pasted together to give a 360-experience of the space station. But Pesquet thinks all the hard work was worth it.
“Looking at Earth from above made me think about my own world a little differently, and I hope that the ISS on Street View changes your view of the world too,” he wrote.
So, if you aren’t one of the lucky few headed to space in the next few years, at least Google Street View is there to keep your intergalactic cravings satisfied. Happy star-gazing!