This Is What It Might Be Like to Fly Through a Giant Space Habitat

Want to live in a space city? You can’t move there next week, but artist Micah Ganske has designed an incredible VR experience where you drive a small spacecraft through an O’Neill cylinder, a massive tube-shaped space habitat that spins to create gravity so that people can build cities and farms on its inner surface.

To enhance the realism of the experience, which uses an Oculus Rift, Ganske also 3D printed a six-foot-tall cockpit that you hold onto during the ride. It’s an exact replica of the spacecraft you see yourself inside when you’re in VR. The artist says it took 75 days to build the whole thing, with help from “my friends at Bold Machines to get all the parts printed before my deadline and I used my trusty Gigabot printer from the fine folks at Re:3D to get the larger pieces printed.”


Ganske used Unreal Engine to design the VR aspect of the sculpture, and plans to make it available through Steam.

On his website, Ganske describes what it’s like to enter his virtual craft:

When a viewer enters the virtual experience, they find that the cockpit is replicated virtually but that it is transformed into a fully enclosed, glass EVA vehicle which transports them through a fully realized space habitat. As the airlock doors open, and the Ocular EVA Pod enters space, the viewer sees the other anatomical spacecraft sculptures from my previous exhibition, “The Future is Always Tomorrow” rendered at a thousand feet high, hovering above a small moon. As the EVA flies up and past the other vehicles, the view fades to black and the experience ends.

You can see it this weekend at the San Francisco Art Market.

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This must be an early version. There are some serious flaws that break the realism. At the scale he is showing, there would be significant, detectable spin which would only go away if the EVA vehicle, the cylinder, and everything outside all had same induced spin, which is unlikely. There is also a lack of light sources, yet there are no shadows. In most conceptual designs, the light sources are either on the interior surface of the cylinder or are located at the axis down which the EVA vehicle is traveling. It would have been nice if he had spent more time on the simulation and less time on the 3-D printed “artwork”.