February 6, 2019 20:00 EST
One year ago, SpaceX successfully completed the historic maiden flight of Falcon Heavy. Hundreds of thousands flocked to Florida’s Space Coast to view the launch in person, while millions watched in anticipation online in what would become the second largest livestream in YouTube’s history. This launch was the most observed launch since the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis in 2011. The idea of Launch360 was first conceptualized while watching Falcon Heavy tear through the sky from Kennedy Space Center’s Apollo/Saturn V Center.
I got two of my friends on-board and we decided to start with one goal in mind — to spread the excitement of space exploration to everyone, everywhere in the world through unique virtual reality (VR) experiences. Over the following few months we made major strides toward that goal, filming a total of five rocket launches with our custom-built VR filming setup, VRAV. As we filmed more launches and tweaked our equipment, the quality of our content improved and our following increased.
We began creating and managing Facebook event pages from rocket launches, some even reaching over a million users. We started answering questions, informing and educating the public on the amazing world of spaceflight and aerospace. We became NASA accredited launch media and experienced spaceflight from closer than ever before. Our followers started turning to us as their primary source for spaceflight-related news and information. In the blink of an eye, the little YouTube channel that the three of us had started for fun became something much larger.
There was only one problem. The three of us are engineering students who will soon be graduating and going our separate ways to chase our dreams and get into our respective fields. Because of this, we’ve been working day and night so that Launch360 could still thrive and fulfill its original purpose. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Falcon Heavy, we are excited to finally announce that Launch360 has been collaborating with the University of South Florida to create a new student organization that will carry our legacy and continuously improve upon it.
The Student Society of Spaceflight and Aerospace Media, or S3AM (pronounced SEAM), will give students the opportunity to build their media experience; engineer new equipment and systems; work with cutting-edge VR technologies; gain connections in the spaceflight, aerospace, and media industries; and much more! The growth from three members to a large team of dedicated students will allow Launch360 to do way more than ever before. We’ve created a dedicated Launch360 website where S3AM members will be able to frequently report on spaceflight and aerospace happenings. We will also be creating in-depth launch viewing guides to help our followers plan for future launches. With more crew members we’ll be able to cover launches from multiple locations across a host of mediums. We currently have plans for launch livestreaming, remote VR videos from the pad, dedicated launch photography, and much more! Perhaps the largest benefit from this collaboration is that Launch360 can continue to provide unique launch experiences while also giving USF students amazing opportunities they wouldn’t have anywhere else.
You can expect to start seeing these improvements go into effect over the next couple months as S3AM grows. The three of us are excited to start this new journey and see how far S3AM can push the boundaries of VR spaceflight coverage! For everyone who's supported us since day one, we couldn't be here without you! And for those who are just joining us, welcome to the family!