Touch screen tech to reboot a space station

Astronauts on the International Space Station have to use a computer system far more cumbersome and far less flexible than our everyday gadgets. Can we bring the ISS into the iPad age?

Imagine working in the most expensive office ever built – and not only having to work on an outdated computer system but also having to go to a corridor to do it.

This is exactly what astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have to do. We might think something that cost $150bn and orbits the Earth would have the very latest technology, or look as sleek as the space stations we see in films. But the reality resembles a junkyard, says former Nasa designer Sam Hashemiin. And in order to keep tabs on the huge number of tasks required each day, crew members have to make their way to fixed computer stations, where they use a long-outdated version of Internet Explorer to work through their to-do list. It's a long way from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Hashemi wants to do something about this. He says the system is so low-tech some crew take their own computers on board. So how can this multi-billion-dollar space enterprise get systems as intuitive and easy to use as those back on Planet Earth?

Sam Hashemi spoke to BBC Future at SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.

Additional footage: Courtesy Nasa

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