PaleBlue Presents VR for Astronauts at Space Center Houston

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PaleBlue at NASA EVA Workshop

PaleBlue presents its Industrial VR platform for NASA at the EVA Workshop in Houston.

This February, Space Center Houston hosted a workshop on EVA (Extravehicular Activity, or spacewalk). This workshop was a meeting ground for various teams at NASA that work on reaching the ambitious goal of the next moon landing in 2024.

EVA Workshop held at Houston Space Center in February 2020

In this 3-day event, a number of in-depth technical EVA topics were addressed, including space suits, life support, equipment, training of the astronauts, environmental impact, and VR/AR technologies.

PaleBlue was assigned a presentation slot to share how the oil & gas industry implements the training today. PaleBlue’s Managing Director, Dr. Felix Gorbatsevich, has addressed the gathering of around 150 NASA employees and the main aerospace contractors.

PaleBlue draws parallels between training of oil & gas specialists and training of astronauts, space engineers, and the ground control. The multidisciplinary cooperation in offshore operations brings together a number of contractor companies, performing complex tasks together. In such an operation, many different roles work hand in hand: from oil rig deck crew and crane and the topside, to subsea, where ROV (remote-controlled subsea robot), commercial divers, and operation supervisors collaborate.

This industry experience, and the VR training available, is directly applicable to the challenges foreseen by NASA within moon landing and moonwalk.

PaleBlue has showcased the completed VR training system of NASA’s NEEMO habitat, that was implemented by the company and showcased at the Johnson Space Center in July 2019. As of 2020, PaleBlue has entered a cooperation with ESA, the European Space Agency, applying the capabilities of PaleBlue Simulation Platform to astronaut training. This work has also been presented discussed in the gathering.

The European Space Agency has presented at the same forum, describing the current EVA-related projects that are run from the European sector. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA has specifically noted the projects that PaleBlue and ESA run currently.

In the discussion forum and collaborative sessions, it has been noted multiple times how important VR-based training is for driving better understanding and preparedness. Some participants of the workshop have called out PaleBlue and its VR platform for collaborative training, and advocated for its implementation in the training of astronauts on a wider scale.

In collaboration with ESA, PaleBlue has started the development of VR-based moonwalk training for astronauts. This training system has been brought to the workshop in Houston, and demonstrated to the participants in a hands-on session.

PaleBlue Moonwalk VR used in Houston with VR participants connecting from Europe

In this demonstration, specialists of NASA could try out the system, and experience the spacewalk, as if they were traversing the moon. This demonstration has been powered by PaleBlue’s collaborative Simulation Platform, and the participants saw other VR astronauts in the same field – those other people have been connected remotely from Norway and the Netherlands, to demonstrate remote collaboration possibilities of the company’s platform.

Felix Gorbatsevich, the Managing Director of PaleBlue, has said: “This demonstration has clearly shown the powers of remote collaboration, where people from multiple geographical locations can meet, communicate by voice, and interact, solving complex tasks together.”

PaleBlue received a number of positive comments and appraisals following its presentation and demonstrations run. The company is looking forward to applying the VR training approach in the space industry at a wider scale.