Now that man has been to space, it’s (apparently) time to send up our voice assistants. And the first to take that giant step? Amazon’s Alexa will be a part of Artemis I, a series of upcoming 2022 NASA missions that will land the first person of color and the first woman on the moon.
More specifically, Alexa will join a technology demonstration payload—called Callisto—and embedded directly into NASA’s Orion spacecraft. There, it will allow astronauts to have onboard AI so they can access information, get assistance with tasks, and enjoy some companionship similar to how we interact with voice assistants at home.
Amazon’s press release states, “Although the first mission is uncrewed, Artemis I is an important step that will allow NASA and others in the industry to test technology that could be used in subsequent crewed missions to the Moon and other deep space destinations. Alexa is one of many new, innovative technologies that will be tested as part of Artemis I, and the integration will help those involved explore how ambient intelligence can assist astronauts on future missions.”
It also says that, on the ship, “Alexa will be able to access real-time telemetry data and respond to thousands of mission-specific questions on board Orion, including questions like ‘Alexa, how fast is Orion traveling?’ or ‘Alexa, what’s the temperature in the cabin?’ Alexa will even process requests to control connected devices on board the spacecraft, starting with in-cabin lighting.”
And, of course, Alexa will still have access to more Earth-bound goings-on, allowing future astronauts to stay connected during their missions. Adding a voice assistant to a space shuttle seems like an obvious choice (just look at all of the sci-fi media out there with similar technology, like Star Trek, for example), but it’s also a smart one. It can potentially make it easier for astronauts to efficiently get information or help, and it make flights a little less lonely.
If you own an Alexa-enabled device, you can get a preview of the mission and set up reminders for upcoming mission milestones right now. All you need to do is say, “Alexa, take me to the moon.”