NASA will test Alexa voice control aboard the Artemis I . mission

Alexa will be the first voice assistant available outside of Earth. Amazon and Lockheed Martin have revealed that NASA will fly Alexa into space aboard the Artemis I mission later to launch in 2022. While this flight is unmanned, the two companies plan a “virtual crew experience” at NASA’s Johnson Space Center that will allow people to control missions (including including students and special guests) simulating conversations between a digital assistant and astronauts.

This is definitely more complicated than Alexa on your Echo speaker. Alexa will be able to access the Orion spacecraft’s telemetry data, answer “thousands” of questions about the mission and even controls such as cabin lighting. Amazon has improved its algorithms to consider Orion acoustics. Communication in space shouldn’t be a problem either. The Callisto tech payload that carries Alexa will allow for local voice control (even with no internet connection) and access to the Deep Space network to deliver news from home.

The initiative isn’t just about bragging rights or bringing a file Star TrekComputer-style to life. Amazon will use the lessons learned from Artemis I to improve Alexa for both future tasks and for regular users, especially those with little or no internet connection. The company is also adding new Alexa experiences that will give you access to telemetry, photos, video (including a live broadcast of the launch), and notifications for key mission milestones.

Amazon hopes to bolster the next wave of space explorers in the process. It offers the Alexa program for astronauts that provides access to a virtual crew experience, digital tours of the Johnson Space Center, and a STEM curriculum created with the help of the National Science Teaching Association and Mobile CSP. The move helps Amazon improve its reputation, of course, but it may be worth it if it encourages more students to pursue careers in the space industry.

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