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Australian Space Agency uses VR to train for space exploration

Stephen Kuper

The Australian Space Agency’s International Space Investment initiative supports 10 grant recipients to work on programs with international space agencies.

Australian Space Agency uses VR to train for space exploration
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Raytracer is one of the successful grant recipients based in Queensland. Code named Titan Lake, Raytracer will develop underwater virtual reality training simulations for astronauts.

Titan Lake is a safe and practical virtual reality (VR) system, as part of the immersive training process, the user wears a VR headset while immersed in a swimming pool. Training will occur in Raytracer’s pool facility at its site in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, with simulations broadcast to users around the globe.

Titan Lake will offer a variety of simulations for astronauts to experience the weightlessness of space while floating in the pool.

An astronaut could be training in a lunar orbit, a Martian orbit, or they could be conducting a spacewalk at the International Space Station with the Earth below. Astronauts will be able to work together in a live simulation training environment.

They will be able to see the same virtual scenes in space and work as a team. One astronaut could be in Raytracer’s training pool in Brisbane, and the other could be at NASA’s neutral buoyancy lab in the US.

Tim Lucas, Raytracer director, said the Titan Lake system will use high resolution 3D renders to help astronauts visualise the environment in space.

The software will literally bring space to life.

Tim and his co-founder Peter Clowes firmly believe in inspiring the next generation of Australian space industry professionals.

Raytracer has 3D artists, animation experts and developers in the team. These professionals use their specialist game industry skills to create detailed space habitats.

The team works to create a space-like experience for all Titan Lake users.

“Students can do a games degree, but they don’t have to work for a traditional games company. You can build serious games,” said Peter Clowes, Raytracer director.

Raytracer is developing an accurate and efficient VR system. Titan Lake includes a sealed helmet so the user can breathe through the nose. Users will work with a safety diver and will be able to communicate with the diver while underwater, which eliminates the need for a commercial dive licence.

The Titan Lake system will give private space companies and government agencies accurate, safe, measurable and repeatable training for their space teams. Raytracer’s vision is to make Australia a major exporter for next-gen astronaut training programs.

Their Titan Lake system will help the likes of NASA and SpaceX to train the next generation of space explorers.

Lucas said, “We want to inspire people and allow them to experience what space is like. Astronauts will experience our Titan Lake system first, but we will share the experience with people from the space industry too.”

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