Augmented reality may soon be available in space. The US space agency wants to equip space suits with AR screens.
With an AR heads-up display, astronauts will be able to see important mission information directly in their line of sight. NASA aims to ensure that astronauts have access to essential information even if real-time communication between space and Earth is interrupted.
AR helps astronauts make decisions
Project Artemis is NASA’s attempt to send humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972. The first series of test flights began last summer with Artemis I, which was streamed live in VR . Crewed flights will follow over the next five years.
To provide astronauts with easy access to information during such missions, even when they are not grounded, NASA plans to integrate augmented reality screens into the visors of their spacesuit helmets.
In the event of a communication loss, an AR display will provide astronauts with a dynamic visual cue system. This could provide critical information astronauts need to make mission decisions, even when out of contact with Earth.
NASA seeks partners for AR system
In its search for partner companies, the US space agency released a public request for proposals online in late December with a long list of requirements for the system. In addition to the display, the package was to include computer subsystems and a control system.
According to NASA, the AR system should conveniently present information to crew members via a minimally intrusive translucent display. It should have two-color monocular screens that do not interfere with the astronaut’s actions.
The screens will likely be mounted inside or outside the visor. NASA categorically excludes external devices such as currently available AR headsets. These could distract the wearer during the mission. The possibility of hiding the helmet under the helmet will probably be a deciding factor.
Potential sellers and manufacturers have until March 17, 2023 to submit their augmented reality displays to the space agency. The full solicitation is available on the government’s SAM.gov website.