The world of new technologies is vast and that of its uses even more so. When we think about the progress of tomorrow, several things come to mind. Space exploration is gaining momentum, in particular thanks to the private companies that are SpaceXBlue Origin or OneWeb.
But NASA also plays a big role in the rise of this new golden age for the conquest of space. As in the 1960s, new technologies are an integral part of space programs and NASA does not hesitate to call on the largest American companies to improve flight systems, trajectory calculations or even on-board technological devices.
An iPad to the Moon
Sometimes these missions can seem very simple, not to say symbolic. This is particularly the case for NASA’s next large-scale mission: Artemis 1. During this flight, the first in a series of 3, the American space agency will test its SLS rocket, which should be capable to return men (and women for the first time) to the Moon. A first manned mission is therefore planned for the end of the month.
If this mission is crucial for NASA, much less is said about the Callisto program, which plans to test consumer devices within the command and return module: Orion. With this penny from the mission, NASA hopes to be able to test Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, from an Apple iPad. A fine demonstration of the prowess of American technology companies.
For Howard Hu, deputy director of the Orion program at the Johnson Space Center, the arrival of a voice assistant within the module could greatly facilitate the lives of astronauts. The latter could, as in science fiction films, be able to get an idea of the trajectory, the flight speed or even the telemetry from a simple voice command.
A different use than we know
An innovation that seems crazy, but which is nevertheless not so far from the knowledge that we currently have. As NASA explains, things will still be quite different from the use we can make of Alexa in our living room.
Indeed, hundreds of thousands of kilometers from Earth, the voice assistant will not be able to find the answer to all the questions in Amazon’s data, stored on Earth. It will be necessary to rely on the Deep Space Network, a database stored locally within the module. According to early NASA experiments, it might even make Alexa respond faster to astronauts.