Microsoft and NASA will be trying again to send HoloLens augmented reality headsets into space Dec. 3. An attempt in June ended in disaster when a SpaceX rocket with two HoloLens devices on board exploded minutes after liftoff.
The devices will be used aboard the International Space Station for guiding astronauts through unfamiliar tasks, either with an expert working remotely or with a 3D manual that will instruct the viewer on what to do next. In preparation for the rollout, NASA got astronauts to complete tasks, such as checking breathing apparatus, at the Aquarius underwater research station in late July and early August. Jeff Norris, project manager on two HoloLens projects at NASA, said the task would have taken many times longer without the devices.
The partnership demonstrates the practical applications of HoloLens. Manipulating real-life objects by following instructions was one of the first uses demonstrated by Microsoft at media events. But it's not the only use NASA envisions for the devices. The space agency has also developed a prototype app that can be used for inventory storage: When an astronaut wearing HoloLens picks up an object, the app will say what the object is and where it should be stored.
It's not the first time that NASA and Microsoft have worked together on HoloLens. In January, researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory unveiled OnSight, a Mars simulator that lets researchers conduct experiments with the Curiosity rover.