June 26, 2015 9:03 pm

NASA and Microsoft Will Send Microsoft HoloLens to Space


NASA has teaming up again with Microsoft to develop Microsoft HoloLens to assist astronauts with various projects. The project is called Sidekick, a new project using commercial technology to empower astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The project was announced on last Thursday by Nasa and Microsoft. “Sidekick” is meant to be a “virtual aid to astronauts working off the Earth, for the Earth”. A pair of the devices is scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the station on June 28th 2015, as NASA published on their website.

The ISS astronauts will use Sidekick in two different modes :

1. Remote Expert Mode

Astronauts will use Skype via Microsoft HoloLens to allow the ground operator to see what the crew members see and provide real-time guidance to resolve issues. The ground operator could also “write” notes and “draw” diagrams on to a crew member’s environment to help them through a task. Previously the astronaut would have relied on written and voice instructions for complex repair tasks or experiments.

2. Procedure Mode

This mode will create animated holographic illustrations displayed on top of the objects with which the crew is interacting.

NASA and Microsoft engineers has tested Project Sidekick and the Microsoft HoloLens aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to ensure they function as expected in free-fall in advance of their delivery to the micro-gravity environment of the space station.

NASA is touting the interactive 3D interface of Microsoft HoloLens as an effective way to replace verbal instructions with holographic illustrations that can overlay directly onto an astronaut’s surroundings. Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA Headquarters in Washington said on statement :

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,”

“This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”

Sidekick isn’t NASA and Microsoft’s first collaboration on the Microsoft HoloLens. Previously, Microsoft and Nasa also working on a project called OnSight, which will help NASA scientists see simulations of Mars, based on data collected by the Curiosity rover.

With the first announcement of Microsoft HoloLens on last January 21st 2015, Microsoft has finally entered the world of virtual reality.

Microsoft HoloLens combines breakthrough hardware, input, and machine learning so people can bring mixed reality experiences to life using the real world as their canvas.