The recent SpaceX Dragon launch brings JavaScript to space. Leveraging Chromium and JavaScript, significant portions of the user interface rely on web technologies.

While there was significant humor present in the related discussion on Twitter and a Reddit AMA session with members of the SpaceX software team such as “Are node_modules really the heaviest module in space, maybe?”, JavaScript supports a modern touchscreen-based UI for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

As explained by NASA Astronaut Christina Koch at the recent OpenJS World conference, SpaceX has very modern displays. The Dragon is the first spacecraft with touchscreens. Astronauts aboard the Dragon wore special spacesuits with gloves to support touch screen access in incredibly harsh environments. The user experience has just a few buttons for very mission-critical operations and access to redundant systems.

Koch explains that the team leverages many web-based applications on the space station, but all via tablets, which live on a separate network from all systems powering the space station. The teams at the space station leverage web-based scheduling software and procedures, and regularly leverage web properties such as YouTube for professional and entertainment purposes.

NASA is currently working on the Orion vehicle for missions to the Moon and eventually Mars. For the first time, NASA has designed the crew interfaces via a rapid prototype lab focused on user-driven needs rather than top-level down requirements. While Orion is not currently touch-driven, there are plans for many programmable buttons and procedures updating display for efficient flight experiences.

On Dragon, the interface makes extensive use of web components and a custom reactive framework. As explained by SpaceX software engineer Sofian Hnaide during the Reddit AMA,

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JavaScript Reaches the Final Frontier: Space
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