PISCES, the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, has entered into new partnerships with key organizations that support space exploration, signaling growing global interest in Hawaii aerospace.
The International Space Exploration Research Institute (ISERI) at Hanyang University in Korea, the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) at the University of Southern California, the International Society for Terrain-Vehicle Systems (ISTVS) in New Hampshire, Russ Ogi, a local expert in 3D Printing and Design, the Hawaii TechWorks program of the East Hawaii Community Development Corporation, and the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) at the University of New South Wales are the six agencies that have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PISCES.
The MOU’s are formal agreements by all parties to work together in developing technologies needed to live in outer space, such as the Moon and Mars.
“Many of the initiatives involve robotics, construction material research, renewable energy and telecommunications,” said Rob Kelso, PISCES’s new Executive Director. “The benefit will not only be technologies for use on planetary surfaces, but also innovative technologies that can have immediate application for the Hawaii economy and the general well-being of the State.”
These are the first MOU’s in five years for PISCES. Under the agreements, PISCES will collaborate with the six agencies to educate local students interested in space careers, provide aerospace job training for local workers, implement 3D printing technology and contour crafting to construct buildings using local materials (i.e. a base on the moon made out of volcanic rock), manufacture lunar concrete, build robots that can turn the moon’s soil into oxygen and water for survival, and much more.
“The State of Hawaii has asked PISCES to serve as a significant contributor to the State’s growing interest in aerospace. Supporting these initiatives will involve the private sector, federal government and international participation. As such, these MOU’s are of great strategic value to both PISCES and the State,” said Kelso.
In June of 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law legislation supporting the expansion of PISCES’s aerospace technology testing facilities. The State awarded the non-profit research center $2.3 million, and placed it under the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). Up until then, PISCES was affiliated with the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The following November, DBEDT hired Kelso, a former NASA Space Shuttle Flight Director, after PISCES founder Frank Schowengert retired.
Schowengert, a former director at NASA’s Research Partnership Centers, established PISCES in 2007. The Center conducts careful tests on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. Scientists say there’s no other place on earth that has soil more similar to the surface of asteroids, the moon, and Mars, than on Hawaii’s tallest volcano.