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An Activity-Based Virtual Reality Tool for the Wellness of Astronauts

The environment in Deep Space is extremely confining and claustrophobic, even for people with long years of training and military backgrounds. Social Interactivity is a major concern in such high-stress environments and every possible measure has to be taken to avoid a psychotic or hostile situation up there. Astra is an user experience solution for Astronauts to help them maintain their healthy physical condition and psychological sanity in space, to keep them active, functioning, and always productive during a long-distance exploration mission to Mars or beyond.

Project Astra

Project Astra

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Defining the Problem Space


Proxemics and the Study of Interpersonal Distances of Man

Using Edward Hall's Interpersonal Proximity Model to define the problem

Hall's Interpersonal Proximity Model helps us to not only study the ways people interact with each other in daily life, but also to have an understanding of how they organize the spaces around them and how that mental model relates to their relationships and behaviors. These spaces and the interpersonal distances can also vary with culture.

Hall described the interpersonal distances of man or the relative distances between people in four distinct zones: the intimate space, the personal space, the private space, and the social space. This can be used to define the challenge an astronaut will face in the future when he is away from his family, friends, and loved ones on a mission in deep space. This generally defined problem space is shown below.

Furthermore, if we use Hall's Proximity model to classify and structure all the daily activities done by an average person where each activity releases an hormone known as Oxytocin in the brain in varying levels, you will notice that they naturally fall into different interpersonal spaces.


Study of Human Behaviors and Analyzing Different Personalities and Profiles

The Process Communication Model

The Process Communication Model is a proven model which helps in the detailed study of human behaviors and analyzing different personality profiles to understand how they communicate with each other and how that can be improved. This model has been used by NASA for decades as a selection criteria for selecting and profiling astronauts and military pilots. The model is also a handy tool which can be used to improve your communication skills with people.

The Condominium model also states that each personality has certain core values that they always adhere to. These are different at times of ease and in times of heavy stress. This means that the model tells us how a person of a certain personality is going to approach a high pressure situation, how they communicate with others in such a scenario, and their preference of working style.

An User Experience Solution that addresses Social Isolation in Deep Space

The Astral System

A Systemic Wellness Tool with Personal Data Analyzing Capabilities


A system which takes in the day-to-day bio-metric inputs of an astronaut, calibrates quantifiable values like productivity and stress, and suggests different desirable Virtual Reality activities tailored to the personality and choice of the astronaut, which would help to calm him down, thus inevitably addressing Social Isolation.

The Astral World

A Personalized Virtual Reality World built for Real-Time and Time-Shifted Activities


A home away from home for astronauts to remain connected with their loved ones, family, and friends, built to support various real-time and time-shifted activities to experience and stay up to date with the life on Earth. A world also built to engage all your senses in different ways, explore together, relive memories, experience change, and always stay connected.

The Astral Activities

Intimate, Personal, Private, or Social Virtual Activities


A range of different desirable virtual activities classified and suggested by the Astral System to be done in the virtual world, and aimed at mitigating Social Isolation for astronauts far away from home and the Earth itself. Astra is an activity based wellness tool designed to provide and maintain a real-time immersive connection to back home, thus helping to mitigate harmful symptoms of Social Isolation in Deep Space.

The Astral System


Simple, Interconnected, and Grounded

The Architecture comprises of the end users, an Analyzer module that takes in their bio-metric inputs at all times and analyzes it against their profile using the  Interpersonal Proximity model and the Process Communication Model, and then suggests different activities to be done in the Astral World in virtual reality. A Screen module which is an mobile application is used to interact and connect all the modules together. 

Function and Aspiration

Futuristic, Immersive, Humanistic, and Connecting


Astra provides a futuristic, connective and immersive solution to a challenging out-worldly problem by taking a noble, grounded, and humanistic approach. It aspires to bring together different emerging technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, data halos, etc to function together to achieve a humanistic bond and connection through space and time.

Future Vision

Scalable, Inspirational, and Self Evolving


Astra as a system is completely scalable and self-evolving as technology improves in the future. Astra leverages tech which is still in their early developing phases and can become much more efficient and precise in the future. Also it can be adopted in any field where humans have to stay in secluded or isolated extreme environments and needs a connection back to their loved ones and friends.

The interface module is a mobile application which is shown above to be used on an Ipad. It displays a user friendly overview screen which displays the user's overall progress on any day, their bio-metric readings, stress levels, and project reports. It also gives the user different suggestions of Astral Activities to be done, as suggested by the Analyzer module. It also displays notifications about messages, Astral packages, and other interactions connected to the Astral System. In brief, the Interface Module connects the end users and acts as the face of the whole Astra system architecture.





Mandatory Checking of Progress Report

Astronauts in future will have tons of tasks, projects, and maintenance work to do when on a mission which involves years of travel. Hence it would be mandatory to keep a tab of the progress at all times and maintain focus, and self-diagnose themselves of any distractions, physical or psychological problems.

Following Astral Suggestions and Messages

Long distance space explorations in the future, will face severe communication lags due to vast distances covered, which will render all two way instant communication like video conferencing and phone calls useless. Hence astronauts will have to rely on emerging technologies like AI and smart algorithms to get immediate help in times of emergencies. Therefore in this situation, they have to follow the suggestions and check the Astral system for personal and professional messages on a regular basis.

Entering Virtual Reality

The Astra system is based in a virtual world such that it connects anyone with their friends, family, or loved ones across time and space, no matter the distance. All the daily activities to be done as suggested by the system are designed to be independent of any time lag. Meaning, the activities can be real time or they can be time-shifted depending on who you are doing the activity with.

Experiencing the Astral World

The Astra World is designed to be a place where you can carry out different solo or collaborative activities with family and friends that usually cannot be done in extreme environments and habitats. These activities are designed to invoke feelings of comfort, safety, security, connectivity, and trust in its users and are built to ensure a positive work environment and culture is maintained throughout. The Astral world is a place where you can let go of your emotional burden, build, explore, create, and finally live and be connected to your home world and anyone you need.

The Astral World and Astral Activities


Shared Building Platform, Interconnected and Evolving


The Astral World acts as an evolving interconnected and shared platform for all the users, developers and others in the future providing countless opportunities and flexibility for emerging technologies to be a part of. The virtual world also connects all the end users in a beautiful platform which represents Earth in every way possible.


Connected, Organic, Earthly, Grounded, Open, and Natural


A Design Language which mimics our world's natural organic and connected forms in shape, form, texture, and colors. The Astral world is grounded and provides a scenic and peaceful environment for conducting different activities. The open, light, and earthly feel are designed to make astronauts comfortable and feel at home.


Real Time or Time Shifted, Desirable, and Enjoyable


Virtual Activities which take place  in real time between coworkers or those which take place time shifted between astronauts in space and people on Earth. These activities are designed to provide astronauts with comfortability, connectivity, security, stability, and mental peace and relief in times of need.

The Astral World has a Art Gallery for your friends and family to share different pictures and videos with you or it can hold art works by famous artists which keep updating every week. It has a library where astronauts can sit and read, rest, or enjoy the serene scenery with anyone. It also has an amphitheater where users can experience any live or pre-recorded concerts or movies with anyone they want. Apart from all this, there are places to walk and explore, sit and enjoy, lakes and mountains, nature and other Earthly landscapes. Users can also build their own houses for privacy and security with the family and friends.


VR Prototyping and User Testing

Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the design process. Nothing brings you closer to the functionality of the final product than prototyping. Prototypes of different fidelity are used to get as much quick feedback as possible early on. Wireframes can be used to sketch out the blueprints and quick mockups show the feel and texture of the design, and  brings to life the “experience” behind “user experience. High fidelity prototyping was done using Unity Engine and in virtual reality. The HTC vive and Oculus Rift platforms were used to demonstration and user test the built prototype with users, industry experts, and faculty.