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How Astronauts in the International Space Station Are Using AR and VR Technology

From physics experiments to maintenance works, XR technology is playing a substantial role in the operations of the astronauts in Expedition 65.

With stunning VR experiences such as Space Explorers: An ISS Experience and educational VR games like Mission: ISS, anyone can now have first-hand virtual knowledge of life aboard the International Space Station with a VR headset. But how exactly are astronauts using VR and AR technology in their operation? That is still a fascinating question for many VR tech enthusiasts. 

To answer the question, the Expedition 65 crew has revealed a fascinating story about their operations. According to their story, the astronauts working in the International Space Station are now using immersive technology for almost all their operations, ranging from spaceship maintenance to conducting scientific research. As per a recent NASA blog, most Expedition 65 astronauts have been utilizing VR and AR technology to perform their respective duties. 

Replacing important lab components

Megan McArthur, a NASA flight engineer working inside the U.S. Destiny Lab module’s Cold Atom Lab recently used augmented reality to get assistance for the job of replacing important lab components on one of the devices on board that is used for the research of “fundamental and quantum physics at extremely low temperatures”. McArthur utilized a device called Sidekick- a modified version of the HoloLens mixed reality smartglasses with investigating immersive visualization capabilities. These smartglasses provide its users crucial information through holographic projections. NASA claimed that the unique device can as well be used to improve other tasks relating to experiments, maintenance, and station operations. 

VR tech for array of tests

On the other hand, Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has reportedly used VR technology to conduct an array of tests regarding “the development of advanced materials using nanoparticles” as part of his physics experiment. Hoshide utilized a VR headset for this purpose in order to study how astronauts in the ISS visually translate observable motion within the environment of microgravity. 

The possibilities are limitless

The possibilities of VR, AR, and even mixed reality to be utilized in the International Space Station are limitless. With the advancement of technology, manufacturers are steadily coming up with tools beyond VR headsets that could become instrumental for a wide variety of tasks, not limiting themselves to scientific experiments alone. While VR and mixed reality have already become an instrumental training and educational tool for astronauts preparing to set out on their voyage, they can further come in handy for the crew already working on-board. The NASA blog was highly optimistic about the promising potentials of VR technology in spaceship maintenance. However, it also stated that we have to wait to know how things pan out in the future. The updates from the Expedition 65 crew only fortify the assumption, concurring with NASA’s optimism with their findings. 

Rapid growth

Considering the rapid growth of VR and AR technology, it is safe to say that their applications are not restricted to gaming and entertainment anymore. Interested people can learn more about the use of immersive technology in ISS by visiting NASA’s blog.

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