It may not be as grand as the one featured on the starship Enterprise, but the new 65-inch high definition viewscreen onboard the International Space Station can certainly be seen as a step in that direction.

The new viewscreen, developed by Screen Innovations for NASA, was delivered aboard SpaceX on April 14th. The portable screen — a 1080p laser projector — can be rolled into the shape of a cylinder and deployed to any of the space station’s modules. Importantly, the device can function in microgravity under normal lighting conditions; its innovative ambient-light rejection projection screen is a must, given that the lights inside the ISS are never switched off.

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The screen can be set up within seconds. After it’s unfurled, the astronauts attach each of its four corners to the station’s interior using a type of bungee cord. Incredibly, the screen is expected to work continuously for 30,000 hours, or 3.4 years. When rolled up, the screen occupies a space roughly 3-feet long and 2.5 inches in diameter.

Before the screen was installed, the only form of video communication available to ISS astronauts was via tablet-sized displays. With the new viewscreen, their window to the world has expanded dramatically.

[Via Screen Innovations]

Image: Screen Innovations.