Despite our intrinsic distrust of AI in space taught to us by movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey ("I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave"), it offers large advantages to both manned and unmanned missions. To that end, NASA is developing a system that will allow astronauts to perform maneuvers, conduct experiments and more using a natural-language ChatGPT-like interface, The Guardian reported.
"The idea is to get to a point where we have conversational interactions with space vehicles and they [are] also talking back to us on alerts, interesting findings they see in the solar system and beyond," said Dr. Larissa Suzuki, speaking at an IEEE meeting on next-gen space communication. "It's really not like science fiction anymore."
NASA aims to deploy the system on its Lunar Gateway, a space station that will orbit the Moon and provide support for NASA's Artemis mission. It would use a natural language interface that allows astronauts to seek advice on experiments or conduct maneuvers without diving into complex manuals.
On a dedicated page soliciting small business support for Lunar Gateway, NASA wrote that it would require AI and machine learning technologies to manage various systems when it's unoccupied as well. Those include autonomous operations of science payloads, data transmission prioritization, autonomous operations, health management of Gateway and more.
For instance, Suzuki outlined a scenario in which the system would automatically fix data transmission glitches and inefficiencies, along with other types of digital outages. "We cannot send an engineer up in space whenever a space vehicle goes offline or its software breaks somehow," she said.