Interactive website lets you explore the International Space Station
The European Space Agency (ESA ) has created an incredible interactive website that lets you tour the International Space Station (ISS) without having to pay $35 million for the flight up to the orbiting laboratory. Located at International Space Station panoramic tour, anyone can take in a rather in-depth tour of what the station occupants work with every day. Everything from science stations to living quarters is covered in the website.
A simple interface makes traversing the station almost as effortless as if they were a weightless astronaut. As you travel around, you can zoom in on many details, including science experiments and computer screens. Thankfully, the controls stop at specific points, not letting you spin around uncontrollably. A handy heads-up display map is available to show your exact location in the ISS. Once you have a good feel for where you are, you can turn the map off.
Using this tool, you can see the station has a very cluttered but organized feel to it and this website really brings that out. Despite the immense size of the station (it is as big as a football field), you really get an understanding of how cramped and claustrophobic the ISS can be.
The website only tells half of the picture, though. The Russian side of the station is not included in the tour. The map shows it greyed out currently. One can hope that eventually that side will be added making for a complete look at the ISS.
One really cool feature of the site is the videos. At specific locations (almost one for every module) you can click on the video icon and get a short video that explains what you are seeing and how the astronauts use it in their daily activities. Everything is covered from where the pantry is in the P1 node to the science experiments in the Destiny module. It makes for a very rich and satisfying experience.
While not as good as being there in person, the ESA has created a fascinating adventure that anyone can appreciate. On the plus side, it is a lot easier to run that going through a year of flight school for a 10-day visit. Take a few moments and launch yourself on a cool knowledge adventure and study the ISS in a new and interactive way.
Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.