Video conferencing used to meet astronauts in orbit

Wednesday, January 25 2012

Video conferencing technology can make it possible for individuals to meet across long distances, sparing them the travel time and expenses. This technology has been used by businesses to trim travel budgets and reduce the environmental impact of business trips.

The U.S. Coast Guard took this idea and expanded it to a large scale when they used web conferencing technology to connect with astronauts in outer space. Approximately 100 cadets on the New London, Connecticut, campus of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy were able to meet remotely via video conference with Dan Burbank, an astronaut aboard NASA's Expedition 30.

Burbank, a retired USCG Captain, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1985 and previously worked there as a professor of engineering. Now, he is commander of Expedition 30, studying how the weightlessness of space affects the human body and other materials at NASA's space station. 

Cadet First Class George Grock, president of the academy's aviation club, reported asking about the living conditions on the space shuttle and results from the weightlessness research. Video conferencing solutions that are brower-based and require only a computer make it easy for participants to connect from anywhere, including outer space, with just an internet connection.