Amazon is working on a collaboration with Lockheed Martin and Cisco to bring its digital assistant Alexa to space. The first mission is aboard the Artemis I which is just the first of many missions that they are planning for further exploration of the Moon and Mars. The Orion spacecraft will have a technology demonstration payload called Callisto which is where Alexa will be integrated. Amazon is hoping that Alexa’s role will “inspire future scientists, astronauts, and engineers who will define this next era of space exploration.”
We’ve seen AI voice technology in various sci-fi movies and series but the reality is of course a bit more complicated than that. NASA, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, and Amazon are working hard to make this a reality by bringing Alexa along for the ride. Aside from having voice-controlled AI, the Artemis I mission will also be testing the new Space Launch System rocket as well as the Orion spacecraft itself. This is just the first step in testing and improving the systems that they will be adding to future missions.
This mission will not have any crew on the spacecraft but engineers back on Earth will be testing out the technology through a simulated crew. They will give Alexa access to real-time telemetry data and can also respond to inquiries about the mission. The digital assistant will also be able to process and respond to mission-specific requests like turning cabin lighting on and off. All of these things will be done without internet connection.
By using the NASA Deep Space Network, Alexa will hopefully be able to provide the astronauts in future missions information from earth. This may include news, sports scores, and other information that they may want to have while away from earth. Using voice control to do these things as well as control their surroundings should make it easier for the astronauts, especially when they’re buckled in. To do this, Lockheed Martin designed a space-grade hardware for Alexa to be built into.
For us earth-bound humans, devices that run Alexa will be able to “participate” as well. Just say “Alexa, take me to the Moon” to access details about the mission and prepare it for future updates once Artemis I launches.