HoloLens Units Destroyed in Shuttle Explosion

Last week VRFocus reported on the news that Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality (MR) head-mounted display (HMD) would be heading to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a partnership between the company and NASA. The special kits will include new software known as Sidekick, designed to help astronauts with training and communication. A pair of HoloLens units were set to be shipped up to the station this month to allow for testing of this project. Sadly, those units have been destroyed in-transit after their unmanned shuttle exploded.

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As already reported, the HoloLens units were set to arrive via SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply mission, which launched yesterday. Not long after the launch, however, the Dragon spacecraft that held the supplies and the Falcon 9 rocket that propelled it exploded. No one was injured in the accident and the crew of the ISS are said to have plenty of supplies to last them the next several months.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said of the crash. “However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months.

“We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight.”

The HoloLens units were only the first of a number that were meant to be delivered to the ISS as part of Sidekick. The software is to feature two modes. One of these will allow the HMD user to communicate with experts on Earth for training and more detailed instruction. Its successful integration will mark the first time that astronauts have been able to carry out real-time video calls with Earth. The other mode will place holograms on surfaces that will train the user. It’s not clear when new units might be delivered.

VRFocus will continue to follow HoloLens and Sidekick, reporting back with the latest.

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