If you don’t have a few thousand dollars to spend on a “Vomit Comet” ride, and especially if you can’t afford to buy a ticket for a future weightless joyride in a spacecraft, virtual reality remains the best option to “experience” weightlessness.
There’s a new game available for the virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift that lets people play with objects in microgravity to see what happens next.
Called “Weightless”, the game appears to have a person zooming around a sort of space station and playing with things including pill bottles and cubes, seeing how they spin and soar without gravity’s pull weighing them down. (Note that the author does not have an Oculus Rift and could not test the game out for this article.)
“I wanted the player to have an experience that’s only possible in VR [virtual reality],” wrote creator Martin Schubert on the game’s webpage. “That means taking advantage of the ability to look around in any direction and having good spatial awareness. This led to investigating a weightless environment that allowed freedom of movement in any direction.”
Schubert wrote that the game is available in prototype form for the Oculus Rift DK2, and is best used with a head-mounted Leap Motion finger-tracking sensor. Bear in mind that the Oculus is still very much a prototype gaming platform, but that being said, the experience looks like a lot of fun for those of us lucky to have one. You can learn more about the hardware requirements and download information here.
Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.