Major Takeaways:

  • After 4 failed attempts (1 explosion and 3 aborted launches), NASA was finally able to deliver a set of Microsoft Hololens to the International Space Station.
  • As part of Project Sidekick, the Hololens is used to aid astronauts on the ISS, using 2 modes;
    • Remote Mode provides real-time guidance from ground operators, and can be used to coach an astronaut through a task.
    • Procedure Mode provides standalone guidance through illustrations above certain items, reducing the amount of training required.

From the article:

Aside from some pretty solid publicity for Microsoft, HoloLens is onboard the ISS as part of Project Sidekick which is designed to aid ISS astronauts, according to NASA:

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.

Prior to liftoff, Microsoft took HoloLens aboard NASA’s ‘Weightless Wonder C9′ aircraft to ensure the device would operate in the zero-G environment of space.


While the current experimental usage of HoloLens aboard the ISS today is interesting, further AR capabilities in the future could have major ramifications for spaceflight, not the least of which could be the ability for astronauts on lengthy missions to have ‘holographic’ calls, making it feel as if friends and family are right there with them. This may be essential to the wellbeing of astronauts making the six month journey to Mars, which NASA plans to attempt in the 2030s…

Head over to Road to VR to read the full article.