In 2017, ISS National Lab worked with Google Street View to bring the International Space Station to the public in unprecedented detail. They created the most comprehensive virtual tour of the ISS to date, with 17 modules and vehicles including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. Most of these environments feature multiple 360-degree views.
To create this experience, the Street View team planned how to collect the images by working in ground-based mockups of the ISS at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The plan had to use equipment already onboard the ISS. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS, which manages the ISS National Lab) worked with NASA to assign astronaut time to collect the images. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet did the photography with a DSLR camera that he anchored in place with bungee cords! Google stitched hundreds of images together into 360-degree panoramas and added labels to objects of interest within the Station.