While the words "Beam up Schmiddy" probably weren't spoken, NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid did give a Vulcan salute as he appeared on the International Space Station through a process called "holoporting." NASA recently disclosed that in October, Schmid and other team members became the first humans holoported from Earth to space, CNET reports. Schmid described holoportation as "a type of capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed, and transmitted live anywhere in real time." The team members were able to see and speak to ISS astronauts, and they had the first "holoportation handshake."
Schmid was joined by Fernando De La Pena Llaca, CEO of software provider Aexa Aerospace. NASA says that while the technology has been around since 2016, this is the first time in "such an extreme and remote environment such as space," and "we'll use this for our private medical conferences, private psychiatric conferences, private family conferences and to bring VIPs onto the space station to visit with astronauts.” NASA is also looking at combining the technology with augmented reality, which would let holoporters move around the space station, and haptics, which can simulate touch through vibrations or motors, Space.com reports.
"This is completely new manner of human communication across vast distances," Schmid said a statement. "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." NASA says the technology could be used in future missions to Mars—and on Earth, in extreme environments like Antarctica. (Read more NASA stories.)