NASA Virtually Teleports Doctor Hundred of Miles In Space To Show Off ‘Holoportation’

By Ramish Zafar  / 
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In a remarkable development, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 'holoported' the first human being into space late last year. Holoportation is the process through which a three dimensional holographic representation of an individual is created, in a combination of a 'hologram' and 'teleportation'. NASA revealed the development late last week, as it announced that it had transported flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid, mixed and virtual reality firm AEXA Aerospance's chief executive officer Dr. Fernando De La Pena Llaca and others to the International Space Station (ISS) during October 2021 while the ISS was orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 250 miles above the Earth's surface.

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The event place last year when NASA's Crew 2 astronauts were present on the ISS. The astronauts took to the skies in April last year and returned in November, soon after Dr. Schmid and others were holoportated to the orbiting space laboratory.

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This holoportation was the first time in human history that astronauts in space were able to directly communicate with people present on Earth as if they were right beside them. NASA believes that it marks a significant development for space communications as it comes at a time when the space agency is preparing to establish its regular presence on Moon via the Artemis program.

In order to virtually transport humans to the ISS, NASA used Microsoft Corporation's Hololens Konnect camera alongside a personal computer with custom software developed by AEXA. AEXA provides custom software for mixed and virtual reality devices to be used in several industries such as space, oil and gas operations and medicine. It is headed by Dr. Llaca who joined Dr. Schmid for their virtual journey to space.

Holoportation team members are seen projected virtually on the International Space Station, on Oct. 8, 2021. From left are Andrew Madrid, Dr. Fernando De La Pena Llaca, RIhab Sadik, Dr. Joe Schmid, Kevin Bryant, Mackenzie Hoffman and Wes Tarkington.
Credits: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet

Following this development, the space agency now aims to combine holoportation with augmented reality to create a unique environment for scientists, doctors and others to interact with astronauts in space.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Dr. Shcmid shed some light on the possibilities opened through the virtual teleportation to the ISS. He explained that it can allow highly skilled professionals such as designers and engineers of complex equipment, the kinds of which is generally present on the space station, to directly communicate with astronauts. When combined with haptics, which refers to technology that can create sensations of touch, this can allow different individuals to work together in real-time in space.

Holoportation will also prove crucial in improving future crews' unavoidable feelings of isolation. While the journey to the ISS takes less than a week, long term missions such as those to Mars will present challenges such as communications delays. Through holoportation crew members will be able to communicate as closely as they can with their loved ones, which in turn will help them during the long journey.

Future uses for holoportation will include virtually bringing astronauts back to Earth while those on the planet will be sent to space. This will enable two way communication and prove to be more realistic for the Earthers. These use cases will involve psychiatric professionals, VIPs and others, outlined NASA.

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