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University of Phoenix alum Dr. Fernando De La Peña Llaca’s holoportation technology and expertise recognized by NASA

By Sharla Hooper

Holoportation demonstration technology and opportunities for providing 3D telemedicine in space receives NASA award

University of Phoenix celebrates the recognition by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of alum Dr. Fernando De La Peña Llaca, CEO & President of AEXA Aerospace (AEXA), in bringing holoportation technology to medicine in space. NASA presented the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director’s Innovation Group Achievement Award to De La Peña Llaca as part of the Holoportation Technology Demonstration Team on June 8, at the JSC Teague Auditorium in Houston, Texas.

“Holoportation brings a meaningful connection to medicine and the isolation of situations like space habitation,” shares De La Peña Llaca. “I am proud of the collaboration we accomplished with NASA to prove its capability and potential for use and this award helps bring awareness to this important work.”

De La Peña Llaca and AEXA were industry partners collaborating with NASA scientists to enable the use of the technology which provided holoportation as an innovative 3D version of telemedicine for astronauts on the International Space Station in October 2021. The NASA award was presented “for outstanding vision and execution of the Holoportation Technology Demonstration on ISS for future medical operations application.” 

The current uses for holoportation technology are in medicine, engineering, business, and as a communications tool. The application is now commercially available at AEXA.

De La Peña Llaca established AEXA Aerospace in 2012, at the same time he began his master's degree at University of Phoenix. AEXA Aerospace developed a training application for astronauts and payload specialists that uses holograms to overlay existing hardware and deploys avatars of other users working remotely. This is the technology that enabled the holoportation experience with the ISS.

As an undergraduate engineering student, Fernando completed and patented a spacecraft engine propelled by anti-matter, and received additional patents, for example, a space launcher employing magnetic levitation. He received a Discovery Channel Prize in 2010 for his work developing the Mexican Space Agency.

De La Peña Llaca completed his master’s in information systems with University of Phoenix in 2013 and returned to earn his doctorate, which he completed in early 2022; his dissertation, “Holographic teleportation in space and astronauts’ stress," focused on defining the best practices and use of holoportation technology to alleviate social isolation and stress for astronauts.

His story is featured in the Fall 2022 edition of the University’s Alumni Chronicles magazine, available here.

De La Peña Llaca is the former President of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Space City Houston chapter at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and former Chairman of the JSC Small Business Council. He serves on the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership Board of Directors (BAHEP) and chaired the Communications Committee of the JSC National Management Association. He is also the aerospace liaison of the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Chief of the Infragard Defense Industrial Base SIG in Houston, a cross-sector council as part of a worldwide industrial complex. De La Peña Llaca is a past recipient of the Small Business Administration award, Small Business Champion of the Year, Houston District.

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