Microsoft has announced a new collaboration with NASA to use its Photosynth 3-D photo presentation application to provide users with a unique view of the upcoming Space Shuttle Endeavor launch.

The viewer gives people a three-dimensional perspective on the space center, the space shuttle, NASA's vehicle assembly building and the shuttle's launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The technology automatically binds together digital photos to give people a perspective from many angles while letting them zoom in for more detailed views.

"It's much like a 3D video game--people can explore, walk around or fly around the shuttle," said Adam Sheppard, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs, which developed the viewer.
Users need a downloadable plug-in to use Photosynth, and although the software is compatible with Firefox as well as Internet Explorer, it works only with Windows XP or Vista. Microsoft hopes this joint project will lead to more collaborative initiatives with NASA, which already has a partnership with rival Google, in which it provides data to the Google Earth mapping technology.

The company is also aiming to eventually let people create their own Photosynth collections and combine them online with collections created by others, although no schedule for that kind of consumer release was revealed.