National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Hathaway Brown High School Student Creates Virtual Microgravity Science Glovebox

As part of our Space Act Agreement with Hathaway Brown School, Julia Javorsky, a senior at Hathaway Brown, has developed a virtual reality application, the Virtual Microgravity Science Glovebox. Julia is a student in the Hathaway Brown Science Research & Engineering Program.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) is a glovebox aboard the International Space Station (ISS). It provides a safe, contained environment for research with liquids, combustion, and hazardous materials in the microgravity conditions of the ISS.

NASA has used physical, greatly simplified replicas of the MSG at outreach events for years. While it is a great teaching tool, it cannot demonstrate to students the effect a microgravity environment has on using the MSG. In virtual reality, the application developer can turn off gravity!


The application makes use of an Oculus Rift for the display and a Leap Motion controller for gesture recognition. This allows the user to interact with objects inside the Virtual MSG as if their hands were really inside an MSG.

In addition to creating the Virtual MSG, Julia enhanced the application greatly by placing it in a model of the International Space Station. This allows the user to explore the ISS in virtual reality.

This application has been one of the most popular displays at events where we have GVIS displays. More than 1,500 people have used her application at events and tours of the GVIS Lab. These events include the Cleveland National Airshow, Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Great Lakes Science Center, and Solon Home Days.

While the application was initially created for the Oculus Rift, Julia has also ported versions of the application to the HTC Vive and the HoloLens.

Julia has achieved many major milestones as part of her work with our Team:

  • First high school student to create virtual reality application in GVIS Lab
  • First person in GVIS Lab to integrate the Leap Motion with the Oculus Rift
  • First person in GVIS Lab to port an application to all three major AR/VR devices: Oculus, Vive and HoloLens

Congratulations and thanks to Julia!