Mission ISS Virtual Tour

4-star rating
Quest, Link
Education, Free, Space
Moderate Comfort, Roomscale, Stationary

Mission ISS provides you with a free roaming experience of the International Space Station, complete with opportunities to go for a space walk and to dock a supply capsule using the Canada arm. Developed by Magnopus and available for both the Meta Quest and Oculus Rift platforms, this experience helps you develop your space legs with a tutorial before sending you off on several missions or alternatively letting you explore the station in your own time. There are also twelve achievements to unlock, if you want to make sure you've explored this app in full.

Manouvering through the space station in zero gravity utilizing a series of grab-rails and joystick gestures becomes second nature after a short while, and gives you an inkling of what it must be like for the astronauts to live here for months at a time. Pointing at the many objects adorning the walls will yield interpretive panels describing what you're seeing and some even show video clips from life aboard the ISS. Once you're confident with your movements inside the station you can also step outside for some extra vehicular activity. Appreciating the station from outside and high above the earth adds an extra dimension to this experience, whether moving realistically from handhold to handhold like most astronauts, or floating around in a fanciful sci-fi manner with jetpack controls.

Inside the ISS (Rift screenshot vs Quest screenshot)

Though Mission ISS eschews photorealism in favor of graphical representation, the developers have built a level of detail that provides ample realism and plenty to explore. Powered by a capable PC the Oculus Rift version produces the best graphics, lighting and 3D modeling by far and the Quest version was clearly written for the first generation device rather than the more competent Quest 2. The Quest version still provides plenty of immersion and shouldn't be overlooked. We've included screenshots from both systems in this review.

We would not recommend this for newcomers to virtual reality because by its nature a zero gravity experience is likely to cause some discomfort. Starting in a seated position would definitely be favorable for beginners, but the program is also suitable for standing and roomscale adventures too. The app does a good job of introducing the user to the controls and movement options, but since there's no up or down in space it can take a while to get your bearings. The developers have quite rightly skewed movement towards comfortable rather than realistic, but that does make some intertial movement seem less intuitive when floating around, and the head direction based jetpack thrust movement is also confusing. The game Lone Echo for Oculus remains the gold standard for movement within a zero-g environment and is highly recommended.

Mission ISS is a good VR diversion that will give you a fair sense of the actual space station layout and may lead you to further learning opportunities. The space walk and docking game functions are also good diversions that extend this experience's longevity. We would still have liked more opportunities for interaction with the station though - such as hatches to open, spacesuits to wear, dials to turn and switches to flip. As a free experience we'd recommend this to all, providing they have some confidence in VR already.

Earth through the cupola (Rift screenshot vs Quest screenshot)

✅ Very good graphical detail (Rift version)
✅ Great interpretive videos and descriptions
✅ Fun space-walk and docking game
❌ Zero gravity may not be for VR newcomers
❌ Limited replayability

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• Languages: English
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