In a remarkable development, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ‘holoported’ the first human into space late last year. Holoportation is the process through which a three-dimensional holographic representation of an individual is created, in a combination of ‘hologram’ and ‘teleportation’. NASA revealed the development late last week, when it announced that it had flown flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid and the CEO of mixed and virtual reality firm AEXA Aerospace, Dr. Fernando De La Pena Llaca. , and others to the International Space Station (ISS) during October 2021 while the ISS orbited the Earth at an altitude of 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.
NASA uses Microsoft’s Hololens Konnect camera to create a live hologram of a flight surgeon in space
The event took place last year when NASA Crew 2 astronauts were present on the ISS. The astronauts took to the skies in April of last year and returned in November, shortly after Dr. Schmid and others were holoported to the orbiting space lab.
This holoportation was the first time in human history that astronauts in space were able to communicate directly with people present on Earth as if they were right next to them. NASA believes it marks a significant development for space communications, as it comes at a time when the space agency is preparing to establish its regular presence on the Moon through the Artemis program.
To virtually transport humans to the ISS, NASA used Microsoft Corporation’s Hololens Konnect camera along with a personal computer running custom software developed by AEXA. AEXA provides custom software for virtual and mixed reality headsets to be used in various industries, including space operations, oil and gas, and medical. It is headed by Dr. Llaca, who joined Dr. Schmid on his virtual journey into space.
Following this development, the space agency now aims to combine holoportation with augmented reality to create a unique environment for scientists, doctors and others to interact with astronauts in space.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Dr. Shcmid shed some light on the possibilities opened up through virtual teleportation to the ISS. He explained that he can allow highly skilled professionals, such as designers and engineers of complex equipment, the kind that are usually present on the space station, to communicate directly with the astronauts. When combined with haptics, which refers to technology that can create tactile sensations, this can allow different people to work together in real time in space.
Holoportation will also be crucial in improving the inevitable sense of isolation for future crews. While the trip to the ISS takes less than a week, long-term missions like those to Mars will present challenges such as communications delays. Through holoportation, crew members will be able to communicate as closely as possible with their loved ones, which in turn will help them during the long journey.
Future uses of holoportation will include virtually bringing astronauts back to Earth, while those on the planet will be sent into space. This will allow for two-way communication and will prove to be more realistic to earthlings. These use cases will involve psychiatric professionals, VIPs and others, NASA described.