Alexa will be the first virtual astronaut aboard a NASA mission

For its trip around the Moon, NASA's Artemis 1 mission will take on board Callisto, a tablet powered by Amazon's assistant Alexa. Although its functionality will be limited, it will be the first virtual passenger of a space mission. You will also be interested Artemis: discover the Orion vehicle in video Video-animation of the first uninhabited mission of the Orion space vehicle. © ESA In March, the Orion spacecraft should take off to the moon as part of NASA's Artemis 1 mission. This mission will mark the beginnings of Man's return to the Moon. Artemis 1 will assess Orion's ability to conduct the mission and return to Earth from its lunar orbit. The cabin will be empty, there will only be a mannequin to simulate an astronaut and also a touch pad called Callisto. The latter is hosted by an offline and adapted version of Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant. The video communication system is supported by the Cisco WebEx teleconferencing platform. This full-scale test will ensure that Alexa's behavior meets the objectives of future missions. But how did the giant Amazon manage to get its virtual assistant aboard the spacecraft? Thanks to an agreement between the builder of the Orion Lockheed Martin capsule and NASA. It was the aircraft manufacturer who decided on his own to develop a voice-activated assistant. To achieve this, he approached Amazon, and also Cisco. These are the two companies that funded the integration of Alexa into the mission. This partnership is also authorized by the agreement signed between Lockheed and NASA. The latter also benefits from the reimbursement of the resources that it has committed to help with this integration. A lunar product placement! Voice commands should allow astronauts to adjust cabin lighting, or to communicate with loved ones on Earth from the system developed by Cisco. At the moment, there are no plans to go much further than basic commands. The assistant will however be able to access the telemetry data and will be able to answer certain questions concerning the speed of movement, for example. We are therefore still far from embarking the Hal 9000 parano of 2001, the space odyssey. NASA has not yet approved the use of this tablet on future Artemis manned missions. For the moment, no astronaut has yet tested the process, even on the ground. Likewise, no one can say whether Cisco's WebEx video system will be able to function once in lunar orbit. In any case, whether the Callisto tablet project is operational or rejected by NASA, it will once again have given excellent visibility to a brand that does not necessarily need it. Interested in what you just read?