Houston, we have an encore: ISS virtual reality experience ‘The Infinite’ returns

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What do you do for an encore after you have virtually transported thousands of Houstonians to the International Space Station?

If you are Felix & Paul Studios, you invite them back to fly to the moon.

“Space Explorers: THE INFINITE,” which three years ago made its U.S. premiere in Houston, is now back in Space City for a limited second run. The interactive and immersive experience is again inviting the public to explore a virtual, life-size replica of the International Space Station (ISS), letting them almost feel what it is like to be an astronaut.

A spin-off of “Space Explorers: The ISS Experience,” an Emmy-award winning series produced by Felix & Paul in collaboration with TIME Studios, “THE INFINITE” combines footage from the largest production ever filmed in space — more than 200 hours of 3D 360 cinematic virtual reality footage shot over the course of nearly three years — together with a virtual model of the space station that encourages visitors to physically roam the layout of the orbital outpost while exploring 360-degree vignettes in many of its modules.

Related: Experience the Overview Effect with the Felix & Paul VR trilogy ‘Space Explorers: Blue Marble’

The fully-immersive, VR experience “Space Explorers: THE INFINITE” invites visitors to roam through a full-size virtual International Space Station to feel what it is like to be a member of the crew.  (Image credit: Felix & Paul Studios/PHI)

“Everybody I have met told me, ‘I’m looking forward to seeing it again, because every time I come here, it’s a different experience,'” Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder and chief creative officer of Felix & Paul Studios and creative director of ‘Space Explorers: THE INFINITE,’ said in an interview with collectSPACE.com.

“There are 60 virtual reality scenes that you can activate when you visit the space station, both inside and outside of the ISS. Generally with one visit, you have time to see 12. So, it means that when you come a second time or third time or a fourth time or even the fifth time, it’s going to be a different experience,” he said.

In its first incarnation, “THE INFINITE” concluded the virtual reality part of the experience with the chance to go outside the space station and witness astronauts on a spacewalk. The spectacular scene was made possible by the first-ever use of a VR camera outside of the ISS, mounted on the station’s primary robotic arm.

That was followed by a multi-room art installation by visual and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda that focused on the aesthetics of mathematic formulas.

In addition to the space station VR experience, visitors to “Space Explorers: THE INFINITE” can now get a front row view of the launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission to the moon. (Image credit: Felix & Paul Studios/PHI)

Now, visitors go even farther into space by reliving the 2022 launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the moon. The spacewalk and part of Ikeda’s work is still there, but the experience concludes with the inaugural liftoff of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, which was a major milestone toward NASA returning astronauts to the lunar surface, including landing the first woman, first person of color and the first non-American astronaut at the moon’s south pole.

Felix & Paul filmed the Artemis 1 launch and, in a first, streamed it live in 360 degrees to full-dome theaters, planetariums and personal VR headsets. The same footage, captured by cameras positioned near the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, has been adapted as the finale to “THE INFINITE,” providing a second, unprecedented display.

Since premiering in Montreal and then Houston, “THE INFINITE” has been staged in Tacoma, Washington; Richmond, California; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Denver, Colorado. Now back in Houston, the “THE INFINITE” is scheduled to run through at least the end of June. Upcoming cities include West Palm Beach, Florida, opening on June 4 and Charlotte, North Carolina, beginning on Sept. 20.

Related: NASA’s Artemis program: Everything you need to know

Visitors to “Space Explorers: The INFINITE” in Houston can see the VR cameras used to film aboard the space station. (Image credit: collectSPACE.com)



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