NASA Use Microsoft HoloLens for Assembling New Spacecraft

Engineers working on the new NASA Orion spacecraft are using the HoloLens to aid in construction.

When building something that needs to take human beings into space, getting it right first time is completely vital. This is very challenging when building a completely unique device, something which has never been built before. Lockheed Martin engineers working on building the latest NASA spacecraft have turned to the HoloLens mixed reality (MR) headset in an attempt to improve the process.

Previously, aerospace organisation including Boeing and Airbus have used complex manuals to try and convey instructions to workers. These manuals can run to over a thousand pages, and difficult to consult during the construction process. Lockheed Martin are using MR and augmented reality (AR) to help engineers do their jobs more efficiently.

One spacecraft technician, Decker Jory explained about his use of the HoloLens for working on the Orion spacecraft, the craft meant to be mounted on the NASA Space Launch System, the successor to the Space Shuttle program: “At the start of the day, I put on the device to get accustomed to what we will be doing in the morning.”

The headset lets workers see holograms images which shows models of parts and labels overlaid on already assembled pieces of the spacecraft. Information such as torquing instructions can be displayed right on top of the areas where they are relevant.

The virtual models are even colour-coded to the role of the person using the headset. For Jory and his team, who are in the process of creating a heat shield for the Orion, the technology takes the place of a 1,500-page instruction manual.

Lockheed Martin is expanding its use of AR after seeing positive results during testing. Technicians using the technology need much less time to become familiar with a new tasks and to perform new processes.

The company says someday it hopes to be able to use AR/MR technology in space, to help astronauts maintain the technology.

For future coverage on AR and MR use by NASA and other firms and organisations, keep checking back with VRFocus.

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