CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

Take a self-guided virtual tour of the International Space Station

Clicking around the European Space Agency's recently expanded website feels like the next best thing to being an astronaut.

Who knew it could be this easy to zip around a space station? Screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

While we've seen lots of photos and videos of the inside of the International Space Station (ISS), seen what our planet looks like from aboard the orbiting outpost and even heard what it sounds like up there, your chance to actually guide yourself through the various modules that comprise the station has been limited. That changed in June, when the European Space Agency (ESA) put up a website that allowed you to pilot your mouse around the Columbus module, the ISS research pod deployed by the ESA in 2008.

Now, the ESA has expanded its virtual tour site to include five more modules. In fact, all of the modules are now online except for the Russian ones, which the ESA says will be released later this year, so you can now click around quite a bit of the Space Station.

The virtual tour was created from photos taken by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in June 2015, just before she left the space base, after spending 199 days aboard.

As you pan around the different modules, you can zoom in to check out tiny details -- like the circuitry and writing on various pieces of equipment, or the bulldog clips and velcro used to stop things floating around -- which I personally find endlessly captivating.

You can also click on the "play" arrows to see video of Cristoforetti engagingly explaining parts of the station. Various text boxes also give you pop-up windows with even more information -- like a link to the ESA's "Where is the International Space Station?" web page.

The site works best in full-screen mode and truly gives you a taste of something only a minuscule fraction of humanity will ever experience in person. And all without the need to eat space lettuce or recycle your urine, which can only be a bonus.