Beam Me Up, Scotty! NASA Flight Surgeon Holoports To ISS With A Vulcan Salute
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been looking for new and unique ways to better communicate in space. Last October the space agency used "holoportation" to send the first humans into space using the technology.
NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid, AEXA Aerospace CEO Fernando De La Pena Llaca, and their respective teams were the first humans to be "holoported" into space on October 8, 2021. The teams used the Microsoft Hololens Kinect camera and a personal computer with custom software from AEXA in order to communicate with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. The technology allowed those on Earth to have their images projected onto the International Space Station.
Schmid stated, "This is (a) completely new manner of human communication across vast distances." He continued, "Furthermore, it is a brand-new way of human exploration, where our human entity is able to travel off the planet. Our physical body is not there, but our human entity absolutely is there. It doesn't matter that the space station is traveling 17,500 mph and in constant motion in orbit 250 miles above Earth, the astronaut can come back three minutes or three weeks later and with the systems running, we will be there in that spot, live on the space station."
Holoportation is not a new concept or technology. Microsoft has been utilizing it with its mixed reality display Hololens since 2016, but this is the first time it has been used to send someone to such a remote place as space. The technology allows high-quality 3D models of subjects to be transmitted live anywhere in real-time.
The space agency is hopeful that it will be able to continue using the technology as astronauts venture farther into space in the coming years. The Artemis missions aim to place human boots back on the Moon in a few years, and eventually aim to send humankind to Mars and beyond. There will be obstacles to overcome as humans travel deeper into space, however. There could be a delay of up to 20 minutes each way, whether through radio transmissions, video streams, or methods like that of holoportation.
NASA indicated, "We'll use this for our private medical conferences, private psychiatric conferences, private family conferences and to bring VIPs onto the space station to visit with astronauts."
Schmid added, "Imagine you can bring the best instructor or the actual designer of a particularly complex technology right beside you wherever you might be working on it. Furthermore, we will combine augmented reality with haptics. You can work on the device together, much like two of the best surgeons working during an operation. This would put everyone at rest knowing the best team is working together on a critical piece of hardware."
The technology can also be of great benefit in other fields as well. Those who are working and/or living in remote areas could also benefit greatly from the use of holoportation. We are certainly living in a time where thoughts of Dr. Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise telling us to "Live long and prosper" come to mind.
Top Image Courtesy of NASA