Alton Towers set to open Galactica - the world's first virtual reality rollercoaster

Riders will wear virtual reality headsets for the duration of the experience, making them feel as though they're flying through space

Alton Towers has announced it is going to build the world's first virtual reality rollercoaster.

Riders on the rollercoaster, which has been named Galactica, will wear virtual reality (VR) headsets for the duration of the three-minute experience, with the digital images of spaceflight timed to coincide with the ride's twists and turns.

According to Alton Towers, the Oculus Rift-style virtual reality headsets will allow riders to feel like they are wearing spacesuits as they're taken on an "exciting space adventure."

The headsets track the motion of users' heads and translate those movements into images on their built-in screens - allowing users to naturally look around the virtual world while feeling totally immersed.

Galactica will be the Staffordshire theme park's first big new ride since a rollercoaster accident in June seriously injured five people when their car collided with another stationary car. Two of the injured had to have legs amputated as a result of the crash.

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A depiction of what Galactica will look like when it opens in April 2016

Visitor numbers have dropped since the highly-publicised incident, but Gill Riley, the park's marketing director, told the BBC: "Obviously the safety and welfare of our guests is our number one priority."

She said that following the accident, additional safety protocols were introduced for the park's multi-car rollercoasters, and added that before Galactica opens it will be subject to comprehensive tests and assessments by Alton Towers and an "accredited independent inspection body."

Lying face-down and suspended from the ground, Galactica riders will experience a maximum speed of 46 miles per hour, a 20-metre drop, and a maximum G-force of 3.5Gs, which is more than astronauts typically experience during take-off.

The ride is set to open in April 2016.

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