Augmented reality heads into space

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We’ve already seen astronauts using Microsoft’s HoloLens on the International Space Station, but as America prepares to send men back into space for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program, AR is taking center stage.

Boeing is building the next generation of manned spacecraft, which will be launched by rockets from the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin. The company mentioned back in September that it is introducing VR and AR systems for astronaut training to help crews learn the commands and procedures for the spacecraft during ascent and docking operations.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is just one of the craft that will be used for orbital flight, but a new generation of astronauts will be fully trained in these vehicle’s use long before the actual ships are ready to fly. Dutch 3D training provider BlueTea has partnered with Boeing for the VR  system.

The company is dealing with “each and every component of the Starliner’s virtual cockpit, right down to the tiniest switch, must be digitally connected to the spacecraft’s physical simulator located in Houston. That way, astronauts can prepare for every possible scenario, both virtually and in the real world.”

In space, we’re already familiar with AR glasses being used to provide in-flight repair and maintenance manuals. It will likely only be a few generations of craft before those glasses are all that’s needed to display flight information, rather than costly, heavy, glass screens. And as those craft fly deeper into the solar system, lightweight AR glasses could save plenty of weight making vehicles lighter and easier to launch.

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