NASA astronauts to use touchscreen for first time in space mission

When two NASA astronauts take off Wednesday for the International Space Station, they’ll be making history by using a staple of the modern age, but an oddity in space – a touchscreen, according to a report.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who will be aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship for the first astronaut launch from Florida since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, are used to the old-style manual controls that were common since the days of the Mercury and Apollo missions.

But rather than flipping switches and turning dials, the spacemen will be swiping screens.

“Growing up as a pilot my whole career, having a certain way to control the vehicle, this is certainly different,” Hurley said during a news conference, CNET reported.

“You’ve got to be very deliberate when you’re putting an input in with a touchscreen, relative to what you’d do with a stick,” he said.

“When you’re flying an airplane for example, if I push the stick forward it’s going to go down. I have to actually make a concerted effort to do that with a touchscreen,” Hurley added.

The astronauts will be wearing special gloves that will allow them to touch the screens.

As for whether touchscreens will become commonplace for space travel, Behnken remained guarded.

“The right answer for all flying is to not switch to a touchscreen necessarily, but for the task we have… the touchscreen is going to provide us that capability just fine,” he said.

“It just might not be the same thing you’d want to use if you were suited up and trying to fly an entry or an ascent.”

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