Since its launch in 1998, only 225 people have ever set foot upon the International Space Station. That leaves quite a bit of us who have never seen – and will never get to see – what the orbiting research station looks like inside. A new NASA ultra-HD video aims to remedy that, however, by taking you on an extended float around the ISS through a fish-eye lens that takes in everything from mission patches on the wall to metal canisters filled with human waste.
The video, of course, isn't the first peek we've gotten inside the ISS. The European Space Agency gave us a look last year through a series of self-steering panoramas, each focussing on different modules. But the continuous slow-motion float-through provided in the new video, along with a soothing soundtrack, makes the tour more cinematic, calling up echoes of Stanley Kubrick's classic, "2001: A Space Odyssey" film that was released in 1968.
But unlike the conception of space stations often depicted in sci-fi films (well, maybe with the exception of the "Aliens" series), the ISS isn't a neat minimalist haven. It is, in fact, chockablock with tubes, wires, bundles, laptops and, yes, trash containers.
The tour starts in the station's cupola, a pod that holds seven different windows through which the Earth – or speeding pieces of space junk – can be observed. It continues through several of the station's other pods and shows, among other things, the biolab and zero-gravity glovebox in the Columbus Module; the airlock used for loading and offloading experiments in Kibo, the Japanese module; and orange bags holding ammonia respirators (in case of a leak) in the Zarya Functional Cargo Block.
The entire video journey takes just over 18 minutes to complete, which means that if you were actually aboard the ISS during that time, you would have traveled about 5,141 mi (8,274 km). That's a lot of ground to cover, so without further ado, here's the video.
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