NASA ‘holoported’ doctor onto International Space Station to treat astronauts

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In a crazy, Star Trek-esque feat of technology, NASA has successfully holoported a person into space. While still in its very early stages, the technology will hopefully be a quick-and-easy way of bringing people to space structures in an instant.

How NASA holoported a doctor to space

Revealed in a press release, NASA worked with AEXA Aerospace to create its holoportation technology. The software works by capturing a three-dimensional scan of someone, masking them out and transmitting them in real time.

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For the experiment, NASA holoported NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid onto the International Space Station. Using a Microsoft HoloLens Kinect, Schmid was captured in real-time and streamed to the ISS crew. To do this, the crew had to wear Microsoft HoloLens headsets to see the doctor in augmented reality.

NASA notes that holoportation has existed since 2016, developed by Microsoft for HoloLens. However, NASA says “this is the first use in such an extreme and remote environment such as space.” (They're correct.)

Holoportation is poised to be a frequently used technology by NASA. Schmid explained that the technology will be used for “private medical conferences, private psychiatric conferences, private family conferences and to bring VIPs onto the space station to visit with astronauts.”

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Will be difficult for Mars missions

Currently, NASA can use holoportation without too much of a delay. This is because the International Space Station is fairly close to The Earth. However, if the technology was to be used in the upcoming 2030s Mars missions, it will be substantially more difficult.

For example, the sheer distance between Mars and Earth means that there will be a massive delay between the two connections. This means that conversations between the two old planets will take at least twenty minutes between responses.

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“Communication is critical, whether for medical or mission support reasons, or staying in touch with family members,” NASA said. “The crew will need to be connected with Earth and Mission Control, no matter where humans explore.”

Of course, we still have around a decade until humans are set to land on the surface of Mars. In that time, with Internet-based services staring up, we may find ways of decreasing the delay between the two planets. After all, the in-construction space hotels and space movie studios need something to help speed up their Internet.

Holoportation is an intriguing technology, and one that will certainly be expanded upon. In the near future, the tech will likely make its way into the mainstream market. However, will it actually take off with the general public?