Earth Rider

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The Earth Rider concept, conceived and developed by Space Synapse Systems Ltd, attempts to educate, enlighten, and engage end users with environmental and space awareness issues by:

  • Sharing the personal experiences of space travel by astronauts;
  • Producing high-quality planetarium shows;
  • Creating an effective immersive experience that allows end users to “experience “the awe of spaceflight; and
  • Disseminating downstream Earth Observation satellite applications. 

There are multiple facets to the EarthRider project that have been identified and each could offer significant market opportunities.  Our intention is to “bring space to earth” in immersive and digital exhibits, online services, and space awareness applications that share the space experience with a large population of users. 

From launch, Space Synapse seeks to generate momentum and develop a sustaining revenue stream by focusing on three low-risk streams: 

  • A series of planetarium shows;
  • Online space and environmental awareness for e-learning-based space exploration; and
  • A comprehensive educational support package targeting the STEM agenda. 

Also, at launch, we will investigate and identify suitable immersive technologies that can be used in phase 2 of our business plan to deliver an almost real-time simulation of authentic space experiences. 

Objectives of the service

Space Synapse enables audiences around the globe to share collaborative space awareness experiences. We deliver immersive exhibits to convey the power of the "Overview Effect". The Overview Effect refers to a cognitive shift that can occur when viewing the Earth from space and in space. Frank White, who coined the term in his book by the same name and is co-founder of the Overview Institute, is a consultant to the project. Our offering includes online and immersive products and services for the education markets and an international community of space enthusiasts and participatory users.

The Earth Rider vision is to establish an inspiring programme of space education and space awareness services that brings the experience of space exploration closer to the general public and to schoolchildren in particular. Earth Rider will create an immersive experience for the wider public by re-creating key aspects of the Overview Effect.

This experience will generate awareness and interest in space exploration and the benefits of space technology, inspiring children to take up studies in Science Technology Education Arts and Mathematics "STEAM" subjects.

The objective of this feasibility study is to demonstrate the sustainability of the series of services (set out below):

  1. Immersive, interactive experience delivered via innovative multimedia delivery devices that will be investigated in the Earth Rider Feasibility Study.
  2. An online brand development and online merchandising platform;
  3. A series of planetarium shows that build on our immersive and online experiences
  4. Bespoke educational content designed to complement the immersive, online and planetarium experiences (initially for inclusion in the UK and the Northern Ireland school curricula).

Users and their needs

The potential users of the Earth Rides services include: 

  • Planetariums and Science Centres
  • Teachers, curriculum developers and school children
  • Intergenerational audiences and space enthusiasts
  • The general public, who desire an immersive, interactive experience of space exploration
  • A multi-generational audience that would not otherwise be attracted to planetariums
  • An Internet audience that could be enthused about space exploration
  • Schoolchildren in the UK and Northern Ireland considering undertaking science or engineering as a career, and looking for a new approach to engaging with their curriculum.

Earth Observation and experiences of spaceflight are extremely underused assets in relation to education and inspiration of the younger generation. 

Earth Rider will address this lack of interest by developing new, exciting ways to interact with space exploration, using personal experiences and immersive technologies to generate emotive self-motivated and curriculum based enquiry. 

  • Planetariums need innovative space content that serves a variety of user scenarios, to deliver exciting and meaningful educational experiences to young people of all abilities to engage with STEM activities. 
  • Curriculum developers are always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to engage and deliver key scientific concepts related to the STEM agenda. 
  • For space enthusiasts, there is not enough connection with space exploration to fulfil the potential for public engagement with the space and satellite industries. Immersive experiences are a way of satisfying this market pull.

Service/ system concept

Earth Rider provides to the users the following services:

1. Immersive, interactive experience delivered via innovative multimedia delivery devices that will be investigated in the Earth Rider feasibility Study through cooperation with the following scientific teams:


2. An online brand development and online merchandising platform investigated in cooperation with Culture Label and our in-house IT specialist.

3. A series of planetarium shows that build on our immersive and online experiences

4. Bespoke educational content designed to complement the immersive, online and planetarium experiences (initially for inclusion in the UK and the Northern Ireland school curricula) working with the UK and Irish ESERO offices, NISO and teacher CPD and UK Space.

Space Added Value

The Earth Rider multi media content is built from the following space assets:

  • Human Spaceflight experience and "the Overview Effect" ( working with ESA Human Spaceflight Office and the Overview Institute)
  • Earth Observation and climate change awareness  (working with astronaut narratives, EO expertise and the ICARUS programme)
  • Microgravity research - working with ISS on the ICARUS and NightPod Projects

These elements bring an integrated high-impact service with the simultaneous release of high quality content across multiple channels.

Product Benefits

New access to space data and real life space expertise

  • Online space education mentorship for STEM  (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) and the move to STEAM "A" for Arts and Creativity within the curriculum
  • Self generated and  "open source" content becomes available
  • Access to the "Overview Effect" as experienced by astronauts and cosmonauts through immersive technologies
  • Active participatory online platform for space awareness
  • High quality digital media productions and cross platform space content distribution
  • Innovations in online services and immersive technologies.

Product Features

Key Issues

By developing space-related education content and using digital technologies, the Earth Rider consortium will create an educational platform to deliver the Overview Effect to the curriculum, making space content easier to locate, access, manipulate, and disseminate. This dynamic process will encourage more involvement with teachers and pupils both with the target material, in this instance relating to the Overview Effect and Observing Earth from Space, and the use of digital technologies in the classroom, thus enhancing ICT in STEM engagement.

Current Status

The feasibility study has been successfully completed with a final presentation of the Results in London on the 11th of April.

After extensive study of the potential market and evaluation of available technical and human resources, the Study has concluded that the proposed Earth Rider services are technically, economically, and financially feasible. There is ample evidence of a growing interest among planetariums, schools, and the general public for the space-focused awareness and educational products that Consortium proposes to develop and bring to market. 

The Study has further concluded that implementing Earth Rider will stimulate the interest among young people in the UK, Europe, and beyond in STE (A) M subjects. The services will also increase awareness of ESA’s effective use of space assets to improve life on Earth. 

The next step after the conclusion of this feasibility Study is the preparation of a Demonstration Project during which a pre-operational stage of the services will be put in place. The demonstration Project is due to start in the second half of 2014 lasting 2 years, and with the further commercialisation of the services by its conclusion.

Prime Contractor(s)


Status Date

Updated: 12 June 2014 - Created: 15 February 2014