When two NASA astronauts blast off to the International Space Station on Wednesday, they will make history by using a staple of the modern era, but a rarity in space: a touchscreen, according to a report.
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who will be aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first astronaut launch from Florida since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, are accustomed to the old-style manual controls that were common since the days of Mercury and Apollo missions
But instead of flipping switches and turning dials, astronauts will pass screens.
“Growing up as a driver my entire career, having a certain way of controlling the vehicle, this is certainly different,” Hurley said during a press conference, CNET reported.
“You must be very deliberate when you enter an input with a touchscreen, relative to what you would do with a stick,” he said.
“When you’re flying an airplane, for example, if I push the stick forward, it will fall. I have to make a concerted effort to do it with a touchscreen,” added Hurley.
Astronauts will wear special gloves that will allow them to touch the screens.
As for whether touchscreens will become commonplace for space travel, Behnken remained vigilant.
“The correct answer for all flights is not necessarily to switch to a touchscreen, but for the task at hand … the touchscreen will provide us with that capability perfectly,” he said.
“It might not be the same thing you would want to use if you were prepared and trying to blow up an entrance or an upgrade.”