Humans, Voice Assistants, and Mars - how voice assistants will help us travel through the stars

Humans have for a long time been interested in discovering new places. We have heard stories of famous explorers like Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo who have traveled to destinations previously unknown. Our curiosity to learn more turned our attention to space and in,  1955, the space race began between the Americans and the Soviets. This led to the first man landing on the moon 14 years later, in 1969.

Today, we have a new space race. NASA has plans to return to the moon, SpaceX is looking to colonize Mars, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin are focused on space tourism. The space industry was worth $423.8 billion in 2019 and could be worth $1.4 trillion by 2030. The world’s first space hotel could be opening in 2027 and according to Forbes, space tourism could be ready by 2022. Virgin Galactic is getting prepared to send civilians to space on short flights early next year. SpaceX hopes to begin sending tourists to the moon in 2024, and they currently can send persons to the International Space Station, although there is no word on when they will begin doing that. 

Voice Assistants and Tourism

To understand what voice assistants can be used for in space tourism, we must first look at how they are being used here on earth. We already use voice assistants to book a hotel or plane ticket or ask for information on our destinations. Hotels also allow their guests to use voice assistants to request a service or place an order. In some hotels, guests can even use Alexa to open the shades or adjust the temperatures. There is a wide array of possibilities for using voice assistants here on earth, so how do these capabilities extend to space?

Voice Assistants as a Part of Space Tourism

For booking

Once you’ve made up your mind to travel...and have a destination in mind, the next most logical step is making reservations for transportation and a place to stay. Making appointments and reservations with voice assistants is possible today, and can easily extend to space tourism. With The Voyager Station, a luxury space hotel, set to be opened in 2027, customers could book a stay at the hotel via their Alexa or Google Assistant. Imagine planning a family vacation and booking the hotel and the ride on a SpaceX or Blue Origin spacecraft using Alexa or Google Assistant.

As customer service representatives

Individuals are getting increasingly more comfortable communicating with voice assistants. According to StarDust, in 2019, 72% of people who use voice assistants were satisfied with their interactions, compared to 61% in 2017. By utilizing voice assistants, businesses can already tend to customers’ concerns and queries around the clock. Let’s assume that The Voyager Station will use a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant upon opening. No one has ever experienced a space hotel before, which means guests will have many questions about the hotel. The voice assistant can handle a large variety of basic questions, in a variety of languages. They can also route guests to live representation for more detailed questions or escalation of any issue. 

For the staff in the space tourism industry 

Another benefit of voice assistants in space would be for the individuals working in the space tourism industry. Just like on earth, individuals working in space will also enlist the help of voice assistants to make their life easier. CIMON-2 or Crew Interactive Mobile Companion is a machine that is a joint project by IBM, Airbus, and the German Aerospace Center that helps astronauts with their daily tasks and research activities. It is very similar to the voice assistants we use on earth; the only difference is that it is specifically tailored to assist astronauts in space. Voice assistants would help the staff stay up to date with their tasks or schedules. It could also help engineers stay informed about routine maintenance as well as repair lists.. Scientists could use voice assistants to report on a huge variety of sensor data that would be persistently collected to maintain the hotel. 

The application of voice assistants in space tourism is an area of great fascination. We have not yet seen the full potential of either voice assistants or space tourism, so as it stands twenty years from now, we could be using Alexa to do things previously thought impossible. For now, however, we can safely assume that voice assistants will play a similar role they are playing right now in tourism, like booking hotels, planning trips, and answering questions about a destination.

Update (2/6/2022)

Amazon and Cisco has announced that the Alexa voice assistant and WebEx video calling platforms, respectively, will be built-in to the Orion capsule as an all-new platform called “Callisto.” Learn More