June 11, 2020 – Varjo, a provider of industrial-grade virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR) headsets, has today announced that its VR headsets will be used by Boeing’s Starliner program to augment astronaut training, adding a new dimension to spaceflight preparations. The human eye-resolution and high visual fidelity of Varjo’s VR device will allow Boeing to replicate each phase of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station – including pre-launch to docking and undocking to landing – entirely in virtual reality.
“We are proud to be delivering the technology that is pushing industrial training applications to their furthest reaches – even to space,” said Niko Eiden, CEO and co-founder of Varjo. “With our devices, astronauts can see and virtually interact with the switches and control panels inside their Starliner capsule and read the real-time data on their crew displays. Advancements like this have the potential to transform the way any pilot is trained.”
Using Varjo’s headsets, astronauts in the program can train remotely without the need for multiple physical simulators in different locations. The Varjo VR-2 device delivers immersive content in ultra-high resolution (up to 40 PPD / 4K rendering per eye), allowing crew members to experience the same interactions, voice and switch commands, and visuals that they would in the Starliner commander and pilot seats. Varjo states that this will help with training for even the most challenging and safety-critical procedures of spaceflight, such as docking to the International Space Station, to be conducted in VR. Furthermore, the system extends the astronaut training program by enabling users to train during the two week-quarantine period that is in place in astronaut crew quarters prior to launch.
The Boeing Starliner is being developed in partnership with NASA. The company’s first corporate astronaut and the commander of the Starliner spacecraft, Chris Ferguson, will soon start using the Varjo VR training system regularly in preparation for the program’s Crew Flight Test, which will be the first Starliner mission with humans on board.
For additional details about how Boeing is conducting immersive virtual reality training, read the full case study from Varjo here.
Video credit: Varjo / Vimeo