Nat Geo's New 'Space Projection Helmet' is an Out-of-This-World Virtual Reality Experience

Blast off with Nat Geo!

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

For the premiere of "One Strange Rock," National Geographic has created a new kind of virtual reality experience that lets users look and feel like an astronaut with a "Space Projection Helmet."

On the morning of the world premiere on March 14, Nat Geo debuted the new VR device for a small group of journalists at the Whitby Hotel in New York City. In this slideshow, we'll show you what the experience was like.

HERE: Attendees started out by suiting up in a flight jacket complete with Nat Geo and "One Strange Rock" patches.

NEXT: The harness assembly

The harness assembly

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Once we were suited up in our slick flight jackets, we were given special harnesses. Each harness assembly has shoulder pads, a built-in speaker and a magnetic locking collar that allows you to easily place the helmet on top.

NEXT: Astro-journalists!


Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Nat Geo representatives helped members of the press get situated in the harness assemblies. Two seatbelt-like straps situated below the arms help keep the assemblies stable. (And, if you were to wear one of these in zero-gravity, those straps would totally keep your harness and helmet from floating off of your head!)

NEXT: A tight squeeze

A tight squeeze

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Depending on the size and shape of your head, you might need to turn your head to the side to squeeze through the hole in the harness assembly. Both my nose and my eyeglasses got in the way on the first try.

All aboard!

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

After everyone was suited up in their harnesses and flight jackets, the "astronauts" headed into the theater to begin the VR experience.

NEXT: Helmets on!

Helmet helpers arrive

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Nat Geo representatives placed the Space Projection Helmets on our heads. The magnetic locking collar allows the helmet to snap right into place without any hassle.

NEXT: A space adventure

Traveling in space

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Inside the Space Projection Helmet, a small laser projector beams a view of Earth from space onto the inside of the visor, while built-in speakers play accompanying audio.

NEXT: Cool visualizations

Stunning visualizations

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

In addition to real views of Earth from space, the VR show included several computer-animated visualizations of the early solar system and the history of Earth's formation.

NEXT: A show both inside and out

A show both inside and out

Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Because the helmet visors are translucent, anyone observing your VR experience can follow along from outside the helmet - but the image does appear backwards. While this is obviously nothing like the real deal, at least observers can follow along with their helmet-cladded comrades.

NEXT: Zooming in on Earth

Zooming in on Earth

Diana Whitcroft

Cool views from the International Space Station weren't all these helmets had to offer. After seeing Earth from afar, the helmets took us back down to the planet's surface to explore its beauty up close. Here, a flower blooms inside the space projection helmet.

NEXT: Astronaut-approved


Eduardo Munoz/NatGeo

Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency, tried on one of the Space Projection Helmets after speaking with journalists. Hadfield, who famously recorded a music video of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" at the International Space Station, leads two episodes of "One Strange Rock."

NEXT: The rest of the crew

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.