Five years after his first mission aboard the International Space Station, Frenchman Thomas Pesquet is back in service. On April 22, it will fly aboard a Space X rocket to join the International Space Station in an orbit of 400 km from Earth. On this second stellar mission, the French astronaut will have a new tool to aid him in his daily sporting sessions: the Oculus Quest virtual reality headset. A technology that will allow him, when moving his bike, to travel through real landscapes captured in video in 360 degrees. A French startup called Fit Immersion, located near Montpellier, has been chosen to develop the helmet app. “We are very proud and happy to see our technology fly in space,” says its manager, Dimitri Prikhodko.
Three methods have been chosen to make Pesquet sessions more enjoyable. A 15 km journey to Paris, which passes the docks of the Seine, Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower, and another by sea, with the ascent of the Col de Geneste near Marseille and the third in the streets of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Practically what keeps one foot on the ground!
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Fit Immersion was already specialized in creating virtual reality kits for indoor or at home exercise. In 2019, the National Center for Space Studies contacted them to develop a special VR headset for Thomas Pesquet. “We couldn’t believe it when we received the email from CNES. It was a huge challenge for us as well because it wasn’t easy to make virtual reality work in an environment where there is no gravity. Sensors are usually designed to recognize directions and movements with Earth’s gravity,” he continues. Entrepreneur.
After nearly a year of research, regarding tests in particular during zero-gravity flights, Fit Immersion finds the solution by activating other sensors to make submersion possible even from space. Only a small startup was highlighted in 2017 which still only has six employees.