NASA will be testing the Alexa voice control on its upcoming Artemis I mission. With that, what Amazon learns in outer space could be helpful for those that are on Earth.
NASA to Carry the First-Ever Amazon Alexa to Space
Alexa will be the very first voice assistant to be made available elsewhere aside from Earth itself. Both Amazon and Lockheed Martin have reportedly revealed that NASA will carry Alexa to space aboard its upcoming Artemis I mission, which is expected to be launched later in the year as per Amazon.
While that particular flight is still uncrewed, the companies are now planning a brand new "virtual crew experience" at NASA's very own Johnson Space Center. The mission will reportedly let people in Mission Control, including both students and special guests, simulate conversations between the astronauts and the digital helper.
How the Alexa Differs from that of Regular Users
According to the story by Engadget, this is decidedly much more sophisticated than Alexa on most users' Echo speakers. Alexa will be given access to the Orion spacecraft's very own telemetry data allowing it to answer "thousands" of different mission-related questions and even have control over certain devices like the cabin lighting.
Amazon has reportedly been able to upgrade its algorithms in order to accommodate Orion's acoustics. To add, connectivity in space should also not be an issue either.
Callisto Technology Payload to Carry Alexa
The Callisto technology payload that will be tasked with carrying Alexa will both allow local voice control, despite the lack of internet access and access to the Deep Space Network to provide news from home.
The initiative, however, is not just about bragging rights or even bringing a certain Star Trek-style computer to life. The company will reportedly use the lessons learned aboard the Artemis I to improve Alexa for future missions and everyday users, including those with little to no access to internet connectivity.
Artemis I Mission and Amazon's Goals
The company will also be adding some new Alexa experiences capable of giving users access to the Artemis I's telemetry, video (including the launch livestream), imagery, and notifications for certain key mission milestones.
Amazon is reportedly hoping to foster the next wave of space explorers within the process. It will be introducing Alexa for Astronauts, as per Amazon Future Engineering, which is a program that provides users access to the virtual crew experience, a STEM curriculum built with the help of the NSTA or National Science Teaching Association and Mobile CSP, and even digital tours of the Johnson Space Center.
The publication also notes that the move will help Amazon burnish its own reputation while potentially being worthwhile if it will encourage more students to go out and pursue careers in the space industry.
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Written by Urian B.