- establishing humanity's first, permanent foothold off Earth -


There is the real potential of virtual reality (VR) playing a significant role in how the public engages with the program. For example, a pole could be placed near by the landing pad at the lunar base prior to the arrival of the first crew. On top of the pole would be a high-resolution, 360-degree camera. While the general public is watching 2D video of the crew landings, others would be able to don virtual reality headsets which would give them the impression that they are actually standing on the Moon about to witness this historic event. The VR viewers could look up and see the exhaust of the lander as it comes down to land. Even though the pole is within the gaseous blast zone of the vehicle while it lands on a tarp, the viewer would, of course, suffer no harm. Immediately upon landing, the suited up crew could exit the lander and walk right past the VR viewers (perhaps pausing and waving at the camera).

The viewers could then pop to the 360 camera near the airlock of the UniHab as the crew comes to it. They could be inside the airlock during pressurization. Then they could pop into the UniHab to see the crew and they enter and are embraced by any crew already there.

The 2D video could be made free for viewing around the world. But the VR experience could be charged for by the participating companies. If 1% of the world were to pay $50 for the experience of each of the four crew missions, this would come to about 97% of the overall budget of the program up to the crew landings. Whether there would be that many viewers willing to pay that much is a question. But the point is that the public's interest could be a significant source of revenue which should be considered. A portion of that revenue could be used to repay NASA's investment in the participating companies. Click here regarding other sources of revenue.

Other forms of VR could be strategically-placed cameras within the UniHab, cameras on the rovers, and perhaps a DoggieCamTM too!

Finally, rovers could walk around and scan an area and map it in high resolution using cameras with telephoto lenses. Researchers and the public could then use VR headsets to explore the area to identify unusual objects. These unusual findings could be directed to geologists who could determine whether the object should be visited by the telerobots in order to get even higher resolution images (even microscopic) and collect samples.

Space settlement, even starting at this humble level, is of great historic importance and will be of great interest to the public.

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