NASA wants to equip astronauts on lunar missions with AR displays

NASA wants to equip astronauts on lunar missions with AR displays

Augmented reality could soon be available in space. The U.S. space agency wants to equip spacesuits with AR displays.

With an AR heads-up display, astronauts will be able to see important mission information right in their field of view. 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 broadcast 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 connected to the ground, NASA plans to integrate augmented reality displays into the visors of their spacesuit helmets.

In the event of a loss of communication, an AR display will provide astronauts with a dynamic visual cueing system. This could provide critical information that astronauts need to make mission decisions, even when they are out of contact with Earth.

NASA seeks partners for AR system

In its search for partner companies, the U.S. space agency posted a public request for proposals online in late December with an extensive list of requirements for the system. In addition to the display, the package was to include computer subsystems and a control system.

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According to NASA, the AR system should conveniently present information to crew members via a minimally intrusive, translucent display. It should have dual-color, monocular displays that do not interfere with the astronaut’s actions.

The displays will likely be mounted inside or outside the visor. NASA categorically rules out external devices such as currently available AR headsets. These could distract the wearer during the mission. The ability to hide the headset under the helmet will likely be a deal-breaker.

Potential vendors 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.