Music & Rockets

Saturn V Rocket

At IAFSM, I presented Fat Pencil Studio’s work on the Hallway Shooting Case, and learned a lot about video encoding, photogrammetry software, and blood spatter analysis. I also got to demonstrate our progress using The Wild to step into virtual reality crime scenes. I invited conference attendees to try the experience, and had several law enforcement professionals express interest in using VR to investigate officer involved shootings.

I got a little VR experience in Huntsville as well, but this time as a viewer. Visiting Marshall Space Flight Center has been on my bucket list ever since I studied spacecraft and rocketry as an undergrad. I worked in the space industry for six years before going to grad school for architecture to study 3d visualization. So it was fun to see two of my big interests cross paths. The Apollo moon mission VR demonstration was pretty cool, but the best part of the museum at Marshall’s Space & Rocket Center is the Saturn V hall. There’s something special about seeing actual space hardware (as opposed to a replica) and I’m pretty sure this is the best place in the world to see a complete Saturn V rocket.

Fifty years after the first moon landing we have the ability to strap on a headset and have an experience that feels like blasting in to space (sort of). I think this is useful for education, and for training, but it felt like something was missing. I figured it out when standing in front of the Apollo 16 command module that carried astronauts John Young, Thomas “Ken” Mattingly, and Charles Duke safely back from the moon in 1972. I interviewed John Young for a class in 1992… and here I was in 2020 standing next to his spacecraft. I could see where little pieces of the burned up heat shield had fallen away; and the cavities that once held parachutes ready to deploy; and the hatch through which the crew got their first breath of fresh ocean air, after their 11-day mission. It all felt very real, in a way that I don’t think a VR experience could possibly capture. This was a good reality check.


Joshua Cohen is a principal at Fat Pencil Studio