Fast link: Space Agency facilities test in the metaverse, here.
I provide guidance and mentorship to Space Exploration Industry startups, and I have seen a proliferation of young teams that come together through hackathons or an individuals’ idea, and grow organically into small communities or pre-startups. These micro-organizations face collaboration, communication and coordination challenges. There are the product management challenges when working on 3D-based product design (eg. microsatellite or rocket engineering), product-feedback challenges when the team is spread across timezones or simply finding a way to grow a collaborative culture that would grow naturally in a common environment such as a university or incubator campus, but that is simply not available when the team works remotely.
In parallel, there has been a surge of VR-enabled solutions (with and without need for goggles) that are quickly trying to fill the gap between remote-working engineers. Gravity Sketch and Arkio are examples of immersive 3D software with collaborative capabilities, while open metaverse platforms such as Roblox, Spatial, Mozilla Hubs and AltspaceVR provide space and tools for community-building with the capability to import 3D objects and structures to customize the environments, buildings and bring products into the world, to discuss them.
A vehicle designer at General Motors was kind enough to give me a demonstration of the collaborative aspects of Gravity Sketch, where he walked me through a vehicle design at 1:1 scale with animations, reference images and contextual environment. I was mentoring in a Moon Village Association hackathon at the time and this seemed a great way to bring a collaborative dimension to product design. Having had my own microsatellite design project / mission, and being involved in other similar projects, I could see the benefits of this approach.
To test these benefits I am currently looking at creating a basic virtual facility for engineering groups and for space architecture teams, to understand what their needs are and what the metaverse experience can contribute.
The initial steps involve gathering the requirements from those communities that would benefit from a metaverse facility solution, benchmarking existing solutions and identifying the ideal features that should be included in an MVP/PoC. A study of existing platforms and technologies is under way, and a custom-made space agency facility in the metaverse is being built in Unreal Engine 5.
In the first phase of this project, the objectives are to:
– Identify the facilities and functionalities that pre-startup communities in the Space Exploration industry want.
– Identify the best metaverse framework that will integrate a metaverse facility with the community’s Space Exploration ecosystem
– Develop a workflow and methodology for metaverse architecture for the space industry