Living Space

This interactive visualization for BBC Future told the awe-inspiring story of the International Space Station.

BBC Future

Project TypeExplainersWebsites
A low-poly illustration of the International Space Station floating in space. Surrounding the station are sci-fi heads up display elements. There are also other elements floating in space including a planet, an orbiting satelite and an astronaut with wings like Buzz Lightyear.

It cost more than $150 billion to build, flies over our heads at nine miles per second and combined, its 15 modules are about the size of a football field.

For the BBC series ‘Homo Spaciens: Our new life on Earth’, we created an interactive visualization that explored the International Space Station (ISS) piece-by-piece.

To squeeze this megastucture onto the small screen, we opted for low-poly illustrations made at home with a starlit background.

UX also had to be air-tight. Users could explore using a timeline and pop-ups offered key information like astronaunt’s names, module locations and their weight in buses.

We wanted to capture some of the culture that orbits this iconic craft, so we added small editorial touches like references to the first pizza delivery to the station in 2001 and Barack Obama’s Twitter question to the Tranquility crew in 2015.

One of our favourite additions was the crew’s wake-up music. with choices including Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘Get Ready’ by The Temptations and even the Wallace and Gromit theme tune.

With all our stages connected together, the interactive launched in time to celebrate British astronaut Tim Peake’s blast-off for the Principia space expedition on 15 December 2015.

A screenshot of the homepage for the Living Space website. It features a low-poly graphic of the International Space Station above the websites title - The International Space Station.
Three screenshots of the mobile version of the Living Space website. On each one, a part of the International Space Station sits at the top of the page, and below it are different stats like the date the module was added, its weight or the speed the ISS moves at.
A low-poly illustation of the Russian modules of the international space station attatched together in space.
A low-poly illustration of a module of the international space station in space.
A wireframe and low-poly illustations of a module of the international space station in space. There are four iterations in total, with each more detailed than the previous version running from left to right.
A series of 6 characters and sci-fi references used on the final website, incuding Buzz Light year and the pizza delivery to the ISS.
Four illustrations of space mission patches. The first three show suited astronauts with their name and nationality below them. The final one shows a shuttle launch, the nation behind the launch and other key launch statistics.

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