Felix & Paul Studios, the EMMY-award winning creator of immersive entertainment experiences, TIME Studios, TIME’s EMMY-award winning television and film division, and Nanoracks, the leading provider of commercial access to space, today announced the successful delivery of Felix & Paul Studios’ customized 3D, 360-degree, Space Camera to the International Space Station via the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft, the S.S. Kalpana Chawla. The Space Camera will be used to capture the first-ever spacewalk filmed in cinematic virtual reality as the culmination of Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, produced by Felix & Paul Studios and TIME Studios. 

“An immersive series titled ‘The ISS Experience’ would not be complete without taking viewers along for the ultimate ride: a spacewalk outside the International Space Station side by side with two real astronauts,” said Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder of Felix & Paul Studios and Emmy-winning creative director of the Space Explorers series. “Our Space Camera, purpose-built to capture this historic event in fully-immersive 3D, brings us one step closer to our goal of taking billions of minds to space, and having them experience a spacewalk as if they were astronauts themselves.”

Felix & Paul Studios’ state-of-the-art Space Camera – a Z-Cam V1 Pro camera consisting of nine 4K sensors allowing for a 3D, 360-degree image at 8K resolution – has been specially hardened by Nanoracks to withstand the harsh conditions of low atmosphere orbit, including vacuum, solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, charged particle (ionizing) radiation, plasma, surface charging and arcing, temperature extremes, thermal cycling, impacts from micrometeoroids and orbital debris (MMOD), and environment‐induced contamination.  

The Space Camera can store approximately 15 hours of 3D, 360-degree footage with custom lenses made to withstand extreme light and heat to minimize flare when directly exposed to the Sun. The International Space Station travels at 17,100 miles per hour with 16 sunrises and sunsets per day and external temperatures ranging from -250° F to +250° F. 

“Getting this camera to space was the culmination of five years of exceedingly hard work. Only 228 humans have ever conducted a spacewalk. It is one of the most thrilling yet perilous tasks an astronaut can undertake,” said Jonathan Woods, Executive Producer for The ISS 

Experience at TIME Studios and Emmy-winning producer of A Year in Space. “When I first reached out to pitch this idea to NASA in 2016, my goal was to spare viewers on Earth the perilous part while allowing them to enjoy the thrill by filming the first-ever spacewalk in Virtual Reality. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of people around the world, working in collaboration with the brilliant Felix & Paul Studios, NASA, Nanoracks and the ISS National Lab, the VR experience that results will have made all of the work very much worth it.”

Nanoracks’ expertise in EVA satellite deployment systems enabled them to design a hermetically sealed, radiation resistant aluminum shield enclosure for the Space Camera, built to last up to a minimum of 7 days in the environment of space.  An active heating system as well as a passive cooling system were also integrated into the enclosure to manage the internal camera system’s temperature fluctuations. 

“This may well be one of the most complex and exciting projects that we have ever worked on at Nanoracks,” says Conor Brown, Senior Manager of Nanoracks Program Office. “We’re seeing creative commercial utilization of the ISS in full force – leveraging our platform built for deploying satellites and converting it into a VR camera mount that can be robotically manipulated to follow along with a spacewalk like never before. We are beyond excited to play such a pivotal role in bringing perhaps the most adventurous and extreme activity a human being can ever do to viewers all over the world.”

To capture the spacewalk featured in Episode 4 of The ISS Experience, the Space Camera will be mounted and powered via the Nanoracks’ Kaber MicroSatellite Deployer and maneuvered around the outside of the International Space Station by Canadarm2, the Canadian robotic arm on the ISS. Canadarm2 will essentially function like a crane on a movie set, enabling the Space Camera to capture the spacewalk in fully-immersive virtual reality, bringing viewers alongside the astronauts as if they were part of the crew. 

Stills of the Space Camera can be found here. The first two episodes of the Space Explorers series – Space Explorers: A New Dawn and Space Explorers: Taking Flight – are available in fully-immersive virtual reality on the Oculus Store