Virtual reality has become an indispensable part of space travel and what companies can learn from it

Introduction Virtual Reality (VR) has proven to be a breakthrough technology in many different fields, from medicine to entertainment. One industry in which VR has played a particularly revolutionary role is space travel. Training astronauts is an extremely complex, expensive and time-consuming process. VR has made this training more efficient, cost-effective, and realistic.

Main Part Traditional astronaut training includes a combination of theoretical instruction, physical training, and simulations. These simulations are often conducted in replicas of spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS). However, these simulations are costly to create and maintain, and they can never cover all possible scenarios that astronauts might face in space.

Example astronaut training

With VR, astronauts can train in a virtual environment so realistic that it almost feels like being in real space. Here are three specific examples of how VR has revolutionized astronaut training:

  1. Docking maneuver: One of the most critical maneuvers in space is the docking of a spacecraft with the ISS. This requires incredible precision and timing. With VR, astronauts can practice this maneuver in a virtual environment that replicates real-world conditions in space. You can run through various scenarios, from a routine docking maneuver to an emergency where the automatic docking system fails and the maneuver must be performed manually.
  2. Outer-orbit missions: Outboard missions, where astronauts leave the ISS to carry out repairs or scientific experiments, are particularly dangerous. With VR, astronauts can practice these missions in a safe environment. They can learn how to navigate in space, how to handle tools and equipment, and how to respond in emergency situations.
  3. Emergency situations: Many things can go wrong in space, from a fire on board the ISS to a sudden drop in pressure. With VR, astronauts can practice various emergency scenarios in a realistic virtual environment. They can learn how to stay calm, communicate effectively and make the right decisions in these situations.

Virtual Reality in the “James Webb Telescope” Project

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), commonly known as the Webb Telescope, is an international collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It is designed as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and is intended to take our understanding of the universe to a new level.

Virtual reality (VR) was used in various phases of the Webb Telescope project:

  1. Design and planning: Designing an instrument as complex as the Webb telescope requires close collaboration between scientists, engineers, and other professionals from around the world. VR was used to create a realistic 3D model of the telescope. This model could be viewed and analyzed by experts from all over the world in a virtual environment. This allowed for better communication between the teams as they could view the model from different perspectives and identify potential design issues before they occur in the physical design.
  2. Assembly and testing: The Webb telescope consists of many different components, all of which must be carefully assembled and tested before the telescope is sent into space. VR was used to provide engineers with a virtual environment in which to plan and practice assembling and testing the telescope. This helped minimize potential problems during actual assembly and testing.
  3. Public outreach and education: NASA and its partner organizations have also used VR to promote public interest in the Webb telescope and space exploration in general. VR applications allowed people around the world to experience the telescope in a virtual environment, which helped raise awareness and understanding of the project.

In summary, virtual reality has been used in the Webb telescope project to improve collaboration between international teams, make the telescope assembly and testing more efficient, and promote public interest and understanding of the project.

Learnings for companies

There are several lessons that companies can learn from using VR in astronaut training:

  1. Improved training: VR provides a way to improve employee training by allowing them to practice in a realistic virtual environment. This can be especially useful for companies that work in hazardous environments, such as construction or manufacturing.
  2. Cost savings: Creating and maintaining physical simulations can be very expensive. With VR, companies can reduce these costs by creating virtual simulations that are just as effective, if not more so.
  3. Flexibility: VR allows employees to train from anywhere, which can be especially useful during times of travel or pandemic restrictions.


Virtual reality has revolutionized spaceflight by providing more realistic, flexible and cost-effective training options. Companies can reap these benefits by using VR to improve employee training, reduce costs, and provide more flexible work options.