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Virtual reality just went lunar

Contributed by
Jun 30, 2017, 12:23 PM EDT (Updated)

If you’ve ever put on a VR headset, you probably know what it is to be transported to a digital world beyond imagination. Now, what if you knew that out-of-this-world realm was being brought to you by laser communications from the moon?

Yes, it’s happening. Astrobotic Technology, which flies hardware systems into space for clients, has joined forces with ATLAS Space Operations, which provides cloud-based space access solutions, to fast-forward our lunar future by zapping one gigabit of data from the moon to Earth per second. This isn’t just a mission to take sci-fi from virtual to reality. Laser communications from our satellite mean increased payload capacity that will up the game of HD video, data-intensive experiments we couldn’t have dreamed of otherwise, and the ultimate VR experience from the moon.

"Laser communications have been sought after by planetary missions for years,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “ATLAS and Astrobotic are now making this capability a reality."

Thornton is optimistic about lunar laser communications being the next generation of VR. Lunar communications were previously isolated, so this collaboration between Astrobotic and ATLAS means that instead of launching new communication methods for every new mission, the efforts of multiple missions can now be combined. ATLAS’ optical communications terminal ensures communications between the moon and Earth that won’t break down into radio silence by providing Astrobotic customers with solutions that are immediately available.

Astrobotic has partnered with NASA through the space agency’s Lunar CATALYST initiative, whose no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA) partnerships with the private sector spark advances in robotic landers that touch down on the moon. These can deliver serious payloads to the lunar surface when they team up with commercial launches. The company was also selected to participate in one of NASA’s no-funds partnerships that would not only shoot for the moon in terms of payloads, but also explore lander advancements and scientific possibilities for upcoming NASA missions.

We will empower a thriving human space presence that explores the world beyond Earth orbit,” states Astrobotic’s website. Current projects in development include the Astrobotic Virtual Orbital Imager (AVOI), which turns topographical data into a mind-blowing image of the landing scene, and mission planning software that will revolutionize lunar exploration.

Want to fly a piece of your Earthly existence to the moon? Astrobiotic is accepting contributions to its MoonBox™ project, which will carry your personal Moon Capsule to the moon on a Moon Pod and send back Instagram-worthy shots and videos.