In 2021, a team of doctors was “holoported” into space to visit astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), according to NASA’s new post. NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid, industry partner AEXA Aerospace CEO Fernando De La Pena Llaca, and their teams were the first humans “holoported” from Earth into space.

This is completely new manner of human communication across vast distances,” Schmid said. “Furthermore, it is a brand-new way of human exploration, where our human entity is able to travel off the planet. Our physical body is not there, but our human entity absolutely is there.”

The medical team was holoported to the station on October 8. Using a Microsoft Hololens Kinect camera and a computer with Aexa custom software, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who was on board the station at the time, had a conversation with Schmid and De La Pen’s team.

Hologram doctors visited the ISS in 2021, now NASA has big plans for this technology

The technology of holoportation, which allowed realiziation of this event, works with the help of specialized image capture technology, which reconstructs, compresses and transmits live 3D models of people. This technology is combined with HoloLens, a “mixed reality headset” from Microsoft, which combines sensors, optics and holographic processing technology to allow the owner to see hologram images or even enter the “virtual world”.

By combining the two systems, users in orbit can not only see the participants in the hologram, but also hear and interact with them. This technology is not new, but it has never been used in such a complex environment when users are so distant from each other.

According to NASA, this “new form of communication” is a forerunner of the widespread use of holograms in future space missions. Next, the agency plans to try two-way holographic communication, which will send to Earth a hologram of astronauts in orbit, as well as a hologram of users who are on Earth.