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The US Space Force is using virtual reality (VR) headsets to launch satellite mission operators into places they’ve never been before. The platform lets the armed forces practice responding to missile warning scenarios and collaborate in cyberspace.

The Space Force, assigned to maintain, protect and expand the US fleet of advanced military satellites, is working with government contractor SAIC on a gamified training platform that allows employees to interact with full-scale digital replicas of national security satellites. 

The contract with SAIC was established to create a virtual replica of space stations, mission control rooms and satellites, which can be difficult or costly to get to. That way, the space agency can streamline operations and train teams on what to expect before being launched on a mission.

For example, if satellite solar panels need to be fixed, the teams can practice doing that — without having to travel to space to do it. If a spacecraft needs to be repositioned, they can execute that too. If troops need more information about a mission, it’s as simple as pressing a button. No space suits necessary, reports

Typically, experiential training requires custom simulators that could cost millions of dollars to build. The new cloud-based platform can be updated over-the-air and deployed on a mass scale. The outcome is a video game-like experience accessible on Facebook’s Oculus Quest headsets. Essentially, the teams are in cyberspace with colleagues where they role-play as if they were at international space stations and mission control centers.