Amazon's Alexa will take one small step for voice assistants and one giant leap for technology when it blasts into space on Nasa's Orion spacecraft as part of the programme's Artemis I lunar missions.
Amazon has collaborated with Lockheed Martin and Cisco engineers to incorporate the voice assistant into Callisto, a touchscreen platform that aims to demonstrate technological possibilities for future missions, a press release said.
Calliso will also feature a customised version of Cisco's teleconference platform WebEx, which may allow future astronauts to better connect with people back on Earth.
“The Star Trek computer was part of our original inspiration for Alexa, so it’s exciting and humbling to see our vision for ambient intelligence come to life on board Orion,” said Aaron Rubenson, vice president of Alexa Everywhere at Amazon.
Since the coming mission will be unmanned, Lockheed Martin — the aerospace company building the spacecraft — will build a virtual crew at Nasa's space centre in Houston, Texas, to simulate interactions between Alexa and future astronauts, with “crew members” asking questions or giving commands to the voice assistant.
For this mission, Alexa will have control over the lights in the cockpit, but there are hopes that it could do much more on later flights.
As missions grow longer and astronauts venture farther from home, Alexa could also help alleviate feelings of loneliness.
The technology, Nasa claims, could help astronauts work more independently as they embark on different missions, such as a flight to Mars.
Nasa's Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch as soon as March of this year.