Opaque Media: Melbourne game developer uses VR to train NASA astronauts for space

What began as a whim has now ended with Emre Deniz of Opaque Media preparing NASA astronauts for the journey into space.

When the Melbourne game developer posted screenshots of its virtual reality (VR) online project he could not have predicted the outcome – even in his wildest dreams.

Deniz posted his Earthlight project snapshot onto Reddit to sound out the geeks in the space and gaming communities.

What he didn’t expect was calls from three different NASA laboratories to find out more about the work Opaque Media was doing.

Earthlight is a lifelike space game, based around an international space station, played in VR and using a headset.

Opaque has now been conducting tests at NASA’s Hybrid Reality Lab to develop Earthlight as a training tool for the next generation of NASA astronauts and engineers.

NASA has its own simulation training systems for astronauts, but Earthlight is providing an easier, more accessible alternative for training.

It takes several hours for a NASA astronaut candidate to have a “dive” – which also involves the participation of up to 50 people.

The purpose of the Earthlight experiment is to familiarise astronaut with the conditions and develop some skills and a sense of navigation that doesn’t involve such a large team of people.

Aside from helping space cadets find their feet, Earthlight’s goal is to bring an authentic, accessible space experience to the people – while still on earth.

More recently, Opaque Media was named as the supplier to Boeing’s new VR Trainer for the CST-100 Starliner, developing training scenarios and content for future training programs. Opaque Space will supplement the physical training of astronauts in virtual and mixed reality applications, with the agreement set to build on the existing collaborations and commercial activities of both companies with space agencies around the world.

Watch the trailer for Earthlight.