PISCES’ Vertical Take-off/Vertical Landing Pad Test Site on the Big Island. 

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems recently completed a major milestone in our lunar landing pad project.

Last month, we were able to complete grading and leveling work at the site using our robotic rover Helelani. This accomplishment brings us one step closer to developing the Vertical Take-off/Vertical Landing Pad Test Site on the Big Island.

Part of our agreement with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the project required us to complete this milestone by Sept. 30. Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff, we were able to do just that!

Our next step will be to lay down pavers at the site to begin the process of actually building the landing pad.

The project is a first-of-its-kind in Hawaii and aims to robotically build a vertical take-off and landing pad using basalt found on the island. The goal is to successfully build a landing pad on Earth using local materials, so that it can be done in space.

Landing pads will be crucial in future space missions.  Spacecrafts can cause high velocity dust storms during take-off and landing, blasting planetary dust in all directions.  These jet-propelled sandblasts could cause significant damage to neighboring structures and space equipment.  To mitigate this problem, landing pads offer a flat, stable surface to prevent such damages.

The project is called ACME (Additive Construction for Mobile Emplacement), and is a joint initiative with NASA Kennedy Space Center’s SwampWorks.