HoppAR was developed by Josef Grunig, a freelance developer and passionate space fan. The app was his passion project during quarantine and a gift to all fans of space exploration. Free to download on both iOS and Android, this is as close as you can get to viewing a launch in person without actually being there — you can also get far closer than you ever could to a real thing.

While there’s no replacement for actually experiencing a launch, seeing launches in person is a challenge unless you happen to live near Cape Canaveral, Florida, or Boca Chica, Texas. With HoppAR you can get up close with a rocket launch from wherever you are. The app has built-in features for recording or taking photos of the launch, and makes it easy to share your experience across social media.

The augmented reality app puts you next to a variety of rockets as they take flight, including a SpaceX Falcon 9, ULA Delta IV Heavy, and even SpaceX Starship. HoppAR even offers experiences that would be impossible to replay, with out-of-this-world experiences like the Perseverance Mars rover landing and flight of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter. The app also features rockets that will never fly again such as the Buran shuttle on the Energia rocket and SpaceX’s Starhopper. With the different size options, you can choose to watch each launch in either tabletop scale for indoor viewing, or full-scale size for outdoors.

Augmented Reality Platform

The developer has done extensive work with augmented reality in the past, and he built the application on the Unity3D platform. It also makes use of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore frameworks.

HoppAR joins a number of other space-related augmented reality apps such as Night Sky; which helps locate and track objects in the night sky. There is also Spacecraft AR, an app designed by NASA’s own Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In Spacecraft AR you can view not only rockets but also rovers such as Curiosity.

Augmented reality can open a new dimension that may otherwise be impossible. It can be used to introduce and inspire people to be interested in space in a more immersive way than ever before.

HoppAR is free to download with a few additional rockets being a paid upgrade. You can follow the app as new features are released on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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