Alexa, is there life on Mars?

1 min read

In a world first, NASA are planning to test the functionality of voice assistants in space, with the inclusion of Amazon Alexa on board their next space mission.

Amazon and Lockheed Martin have revealed that the digital voice assistant will be carried aboard the Artemis I mission launching later in 2022 on the Orion spacecraft.

Alexa will be part of Orion's payload called Callisto, which will demonstrate tech products that could be used on spacecraft of the future. Although Artemis I is unmanned, Lockheed Martin, the company building the Orion spacecraft for NASA, plans to test Alexa with a virtual crew stationed at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Commands will play out of a speaker on the spacecraft to simulate an astronaut on board, with Alexa responding accordingly. Alexa will have access to the Orion spacecraft's telemetry data, will be capable of answering thousands of mission-related questions and even control devices like cabin lighting.

Amazon has finessed its algorithms to consider Orion's acoustics. The device’s connectivity in space will be achieved through local voice control which does not require internet access and through access to NASA’s Deep Space Network, which will provide communication back to the ground.

Amazon want to use the Artemis I launch to improve Alexa both for future missions and for everyday users, especially for those who live in areas of low or no internet connectivity.

NASA’s Artemis program is set to return astronauts to the moon for the first time in 50 years. Artemis I's Orion spacecraft is programmed to journey around the moon and return to Earth as a precursor to Artemis II which will see a manned crew land on the lunar surface.