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International Space Station to go on tour with VR exhibit 'The Infinite'

For more than 20 years, the International Space Station has hosted crews numbering two to 13 astronauts at a time. Soon, though, it will open its hatches to a continuous stream of more than 100 people — and you can join them.

"THE INFINITE: Living Among the Stars," a new, immersive touring exhibition, will open up the space station to the public by tapping into the largest media project ever filmed in space.

"With 'INFINITE,' over 100 simultaneous users will be able to free roam across a one-to-one reproduction of the International Space Station, in which they will have access to the immersive footage that we will have shot on the ISS," Paul Raphaël, co-founder of Felix & Paul Studios, said in a video statement.

The International Space Station: Inside and out (infographic)

"THE INFINITE: Living Among the Stars" is a new immersive exhibit incorporating the virtual reality footage shot aboard the International Space Station for "Space Explorers: The ISS Experience."  (Image credit: Infinity Experiences)

For the past two years, Felix & Paul Studios, in collaboration with TIME Studios, has worked with eight international astronauts to film more than 200 hours of VR (virtual reality) footage on the space station. In 2020, the studios began releasing "Space Explorers: The ISS Experience," a four-part immersive series for Oculus headsets. "THE INFINITE" expands upon that project to bring the sense of being in space to more audiences.

"From its inception, this project was designed to be natively cross-platform, so we could reach billions of people across the world," said Raphaël.

"THE INFINITE," which launches in Montreal this summer, brings together the VR headset experience with a 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) installation.

More than 100 people at a time will be able to free roam the VR recreation of the International Space Station in "The INFINITE: Living Among the Stars" immersive exhibition. (Image credit: More than 100 people at a time will be able to free roam the VR recreation of the International Space Station in "The INFINITE: Living Among the Stars" immersive exhibition. )

Users entering "THE INFINITE" will navigate the International Space Station to find and interact with virtual spheres or other objects moving around the complex, which they will be able to manipulate with their hands. Accessing the spheres will unlock footage captured aboard the real space station.

Users will also interact with physical objects, such as at the end of the experience when they will sit down in chairs to watch a spacewalk outside of the ISS.

"We're going to take another immersive camera system outside the space station, and we're going to attach it to the Canadian arm [Canadarm2 robotic arm] that we are going to use as a celestial crane to film a full spacewalk in virtual reality," said Félix Lajeunesse of Felix & Paul.

“THE INFINITE: Living Among the Stars" is a 10,000-square-foot installation, including a first-of-its-kind set piece created by visual artist and composer Ryoji Ikeda.  (Image credit: Infinity Experiences)

After viewing the spacewalk and 35 minutes of free-roaming VR footage, users will doff the headsets and wander through a series of environments to "gently bring them down to Earth." The first-of-its-kind set piece was created by visual artist and composer Ryoji Ikeda, whose art explores the aesthetics of mathematical formulas.

'We wanted to create a visual narrative, a doorway to invite the audience to understand not only the content as it documents life in space, but also to unearth the poetry and the strong connection that we have with space exploration," said Phoebe Greenberg, founder of PHI Studio, which with Felix & Paul Studios created Infinity Experiences.

Round Room Live, a producer and promoter of live entertainment, has partnered with Felix & Paul and PHI to bring "THE INFINITE: Living Among the Stars" to venues across North America over the next five years. More cities, tour dates and ticketing information will be announced at a later date, but the tour is expected to reach an estimated audience of 1.2 million spectators.

Infinity Experiences also plans to release a digital component, allowing audiences to access the experience from home.

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Robert Z. Pearlman

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.