Free Press Journal

Astronauts to train in real space-like environment


NASA to use mixed reality space station for preparing potential candidates

Washington: NASA is creating a new mixed reality International Space Station (ISS) simulator that will help train astronauts for their journey to the orbiting lab. To become a qualified NASA astronaut, candidates spend up to two years of training through intensive classes and simulations that help prepare for working in zero gravity, navigating around different parts of the space shuttle, and serving as each others’ emergency medical technicians.

In the past, astronaut training meant dives in a “neutral buoyancy lab,” a giant pool that holds 6.2 million gallons of water, and spending time at NASA’s “space vehicle mock-up facility,” a life-sized model of the space shuttle orbiter and parts of the international space station (ISS).

Those physical facilities have limited capacity. Adding a mixed reality mock-up, alongside the physical facility, could allow astronauts-in-training a lot more time to hone their skills in a convincing simulation, the ‘Tech Crunch’ reported.

The mixed reality system, developed in collaboration with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to create shows instruments on board the ISS, including different exercise machines and tools that astronauts use for maintenance work there. The mixed reality ISS app sweeps astronauts-in-training off their feet with an “active response gravity offload system.”

It works in conjunction with a robotic crane that makes the trainee feel like they would in micro gravity. Besides using the mixed reality system to train astronauts and engineers for life and work in orbit, NASA will use it to design new habitats.