This weekend, the collaboration between NASA and Microsoft will be reaching new heights with Sidekick, a project to send a pair of Microsoft HoloLens aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The HoloLens will provide virtual aid to astronauts and is scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the station June 28.
In the latest video released by NASA today, NASA and Microsoft engineers are shown testing Project Sidekick and the Microsoft HoloLens aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to ensure expected functionality in microgravity environments.
The capability of Sidekick and the HoloLens could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.
According to NASA, Sidekick has two modes of operation:
Remote Expert Mode – Utilizes Skype to allow a ground operator to see what a crew member sees, provide real-time guidance, and draw annotations into a crew member’s environment to coach him through a task.
Procedure Mode – Lays animated holographic illustrations displayed on top of the objects with which the crew is touching or interacting with.
After the HoloLens arrives at the space station, crew members will test and verify the software and hardware functionality. A second pair of HoloLens will be delivered on a future mission to test and verify Sidekick functionality with network connection.
“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,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”
Earlier this year, NASA and Microsoft announced a collaboration to develop software called OnSight that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using the HoloLens. Both Sidekick and OnSight were led by the development of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
Image Credit: NASA