NASA says VR will be a standard tool after 10 years

Just like CAD changed the way NASA designed things, Virtual Reality will soon become a standard tool in training astronauts for space missions.


NASA is once again proving itself to be in the leading edge in innovation in terms of space travel. One of the signs of this is with is fascination of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR, for short). In fact, the space agency already sent Microsoft Hololens, a Mixed Reality (MR) headset to the International Space Station (ISS). Other hardware sent for testing is the HTC Vive with the Manus VR gloves to have astronaut training done in space. Although this is the early days of the technology, it is already used for practical purposes.

NASA is sure with one thing for now: VR/AR/MR will become standard tools for space work.

Yes, they said it. It sounds a very realistic assumption given the pace of improvements done on various manufacturers of the hardware and the software that drives them. In their article, NASA sees the potential for these new technologies to be boundless.

Ed McLarney, an IT specialist at NASA Langley, said that it is becoming pervasive and NASA wants to help its workforce figure out how to best take advantage of the technology in a safe and secure manner. He also added that the future is here and we got to get with it. VR/AR/MR is a game-changer and it is upon us now.

What NASA is up to now with VR/AR/MR

  • It’s using the Hololens with its Sidekick project. This allows them to test out ways to remotely assist and increase the efficiency of astronauts on missions.
  • It’s also not focusing on one product. It’s also testing the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR for various experiments to assess the short and long-term goals for its VR integration.

More statements from NASA

“This is just going to be like any other tool. So the same way CAD tools have changed the way we design things … this is just the next evolution in that. This is going to be the way we visualize information going forward and this is going to be a standard tool we take for granted in another 10 years.

Virtual reality and augmented reality used to be too expensive or too challenging for an individual researcher to use on their own. The way the hardware has become commoditized … means that even with a basic understanding of these 3-D engines, you can actually create meaningful content as actual applications or for research and development.”

Josh Kinne, a deputy project manager in NASA Langley’s Flight Projects Directorate

NASA and Sony working together to control space robots remotely.

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