Skip to main content

NASA is sending two Microsoft HoloLens headsets to the International Space Station

The Microsoft HoloLens technology may not be ready for the general public, but the augmented reality headset is ready to go into outer space. NASA will be sending two HoloLens headsets to the International Space Station on Sunday, June 28. The purpose is to help develop Sidekick, a program to help out astronauts on board the ISS.

The pair of HoloLens devices will be part of the cargo that's being sent to the ISS via SpaceX's latest unmanned resupply rocket. Once on board, the astronauts will test both the software and hardware in a standalone mode. Another pair of HoloLens devices will be sent up later this year that the crew will test with a network connection to Earth. The headsets will go into full use on the ISS by the end of the year.

Here's what Sidekick will offer astronauts while they wear the HoloLens:

"Sidekick has two modes of operation. The first is "Remote Expert Mode," which uses Skype, part of Microsoft, to allow a ground operator to see what a crew member sees, provide real-time guidance, and draw annotations into the crew member's environment to coach him or her through a task. Until now, crew members have relied on written and voice instructions when performing complex repair tasks or experiments."The second mode is "Procedure Mode," which augments standalone procedures with animated holographic illustrations displayed on top of the objects with which the crew is interacting. This capability could lessen the amount of training that future crews will require and could be an invaluable resource for missions deep into our solar system, where communication delays complicate difficult operations."

Microsoft and NASA have already been testing HoloLens in zero gravity simulations on board ASA's Weightless Wonder C9 jet.

Source: NASA

75 Comments
  • That's...pretty darn cool actually.
  • Yeah, I love news like this. :D
  • "To infinity, and beyond!" says Cortana.
  • Haha
  • He-he :)
  • Lol.
  • Actually more so. This can group and link in a "virtual reality" earth bound scientist/engineers/technicians together to solve problems and perhaps invent innovative ways of going about certain scientific and engineering processes.  
  • Its Out of the world!!
  • Literally
  • As long as Windows doesn't restart
  • Wow good stuff
  • Excellent , still , Microsoft hasn't mentioned its price yet
  • It's an entirety NEW segment....heck its not even a segment yet..its one of a kind... Like the first car....the first pc... The first telephone... You cant put a price on that easily....and it will have.. Refinements to be done in the future... This is just the start of something... Actually new and innovative.. So please hold onto your pricey pants ...and awe in wonder...
  • Yes new for consumers or revisited if you count sega vr(for those willing to buy an arcade unit)
  • Virtual Boy son.
  • Magnatudes less than the cost of getting them up in space. :)
  • In the last picture, that guy on the left looks like Snowden. Are they dropping him off?
  • haha, that's exactly what i thought.
  • The are hitching on Russian space ship so perhaps Snowden is on crew. Making sure that HoloLens is not having NSA inside :)
  • No they're not. Spacex is an American company and they use their own rocket (falcon 9) and their own capsule (dragon). Spacex will make the country independent of Russia when it comes to space travel.
  • Missed the unmanned part in the article. Lets see if SpaceX will ever be able to build engine for bigger rockets required for manned space travel.
  • It's safer up there for him ;D
  • Great!
  • Could they receive a holographic message from their loved ones?  I think that would be cool.
  • Skype screen projected in space?... Yes please..
  • Waw great news.
  • That's awesome!
  • Only two? Let the fighting begin
  • That guy looks like Michael Fisher!
  • The only guy I like from pocket now, WC should snap him up. Jaime is a... Well you'll finish
  • best reviewer from pocketnow :) and Jaime would be second best I guess.
  • As if being in space wasn't cool enough.
  • Nice one :D
  • Now they can play space sims in space.
  • Lol
  • So meta.
  • Space is only cool if we build real ships and figure out FTL. Otherwise we're just sitting still looking at the earth.
  • Iss is a real space ship.. Going around the earth at blazing fast speeds... With people inside it carrying out numerous experiments... And "effects of sitting and looking at earth" can be very well be one...
  • One small step for Microsoft, one giant leap for Microsoft -kind.
  • Nice try
  • What a great way to start off!
  • So much for detractors and their "gimmick" nonsense. How neat that its getting use time like this.
  • Awesome!!
  • Yay, 17 comments and not one person complaining about the FOV. This is truly cool.
  • What about FOV?
  • FOV = field of view. Every single article here on Hololens has had people complaining about it, most without having tried it, and it's annoying because the technology, for what it is, is truly amazing.
  • I'm sure it must be what our actual FOV is,.. I guess it is 120 degrees...
  • Yeah, what about it?
  • They look like a modern version of the shades seen worn by many elderly drivers, which are also quite modern.
  • HoloLens not ready for world but ready for Space?
  • I need HoloMovies app ... And I wanna watch Interstellar as if i'm being a spectator inside that movie itself... Call it 6D or whatever ;)
  • 6D would be an understatement. Lets call it whatever.
  • Agreed :D
  • Always knew Hololens would have a lot of real uses that could bring a lot of benefits to people, but starting to help maintain the ISS before it is even released properly? Wow, now that is truly amazing. I suppose with the Curiosity program nasa and Hololens already had connections, but this is brilliant. It shows that Hololens isn't just a cool gimmick, it's a real, useful piece of technology. I'd even dare say Holoens could be a pivotal moment in the evolution of technology, like the light bulb, or the first computer or the first tablet. It could become such an important piece of tech. I mean, this is the future, this is the stuff of sci-fi movies (even more so than before!).
  • NASA can train their ISS beings using HoloLens ... It's gonna be really awesome to watch how all of these gonna end up
  • I wonder if HoloLens can inherently accommodate for constantly changing frames of reference (e.g. there being no true up and down in a space station). Like if you're slowly rotating relative to a wall, will holograms on the wall keep the same orientation relative to yours?
  • That is an interesting question. I would imagine it would assume that the room isn't the thing spinning, so it would keep holograms solid.
  • The HoloLens can ignore the environment and suspend holograms in a fixed position in front of you.  That is easy because that is a fixed position on the hololens display.  What's unique about HoloLens is that it ALSO has the ability to scan your environment and virtually attach items in the real world so that that stay fixed to the real world (and not your head).  The HoloLens should do well in the space station because there are LOTS of unique visual cues for the sensors to use for anchors.  Ironically, if you have a large blank white wall and solid beige carpet, you might have problems with HoloLens!  A non-repetitive pattern with a 2 foot spacing is ideal for HoloLens.  This allows it to easily anchor the holograms in your world.  So keep this in mind for the next time you paint your wall or change your carpet.  Maybe that speckled carpet is a better choice.  And that tacky wallpaper the wife want, may not be such a bad idea :)  Or hang some pictures on the wall.   
  • Yea I knew Hololens was outta this world
  • Amazing. This device can make even the most mundane ideas into something exciting and intuitive. For some reason this made me think of a knot program, that teaches you how to make knots. See? Mundane. But that would actually be fun!
  • Getting to use a virtual reality head set on a space station.  That's on hell of a job to have. 
  • Even NASA can't afford more than two... Phewww :D
  • Space + HoloLens? Where do I sign up? :) On a serious note, really hope this partnership will give more visibility to HoloLens and improve Microsoft's brand image.
  • I love NASA I love Microsoft....I love Technology
  • Hey Cortana! Beam Me Up!!!
  • I want to watch a horror film like the Grudge on my TV while wearing a hololens, you could turn your head and and see the little kid walk across your living room. Why haven't they showed anything like this yet...
  • Me too I wanna watch exorcist snd conjuring
  • But they had a peripheral view problem right
  • Interface design is about to get a huge boost in terms of evolution and advancement of complexity; welcome to the next phase of the web.
  • Can't wait to see more and hear what the astronauts think about Hololens.
  • Ok, Microsoft 1, Google and Apple: 0. Well done!!
  • I would say Microsoft: 11,186, Apple and Google: 0. Bragging rights to anyone who gets the reference.
  • Ok, MS Hololens 10. Google Glass 1. Apple ??? Although they called OSX 'El Capitan' so that has to be Magically Revolutionary perfectioning existing things Innovation!
  • Nasa+Microsoft+spacex sounds so freaking delicious
  • RIP Hololenses that were headed for the final frontier. At least no lives were lost when this rocket go boom.