East Hawaii News

NASA Signs Cooperation Agreement With PISCES

June 25, 2013, 5:19 PM HST
* Updated August 1, 11:38 AM
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NASA has agreed to provide technical support to a Hilo-based space research center on projects designed to allow humans to live in outer space.

The Space Act Agreement between NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Hilo’s Pacific International Space Center for Explorations Systems, also known as PISCES, has a term of five years.

The projects could include a variety of technologies required for space exploration beyond low Earth orbit, said PISCES spokeswoman Mari-Ela David Chock.

She said NASA support may also include technical services related to the ongoing operations of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission.

HI-SEAS, a five-year collaboration involving the University of Hawaii, Cornell University and PISCES, involves a simulated Mars habitat established at the 8,000-foot elevation of Mauna Loa.

The first of HI-SEAS’ experiments focusing on food needs – and all of its trimmings which include consideration of packaging waste, energy needs, menu “fatigue” and social cohesion among the crew – has been ongoing for 69 days, with 48 days to go.

Chock said because of its experience, NASA expertise would be invaluable in a variety of areas including the development of communication and habitation systems.

“That’s why the partnership with NASA is so important to us and to Hawaii’s aerospace efforts,” she said.

Originally under the auspices of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, PISCES last year was given a state appropriation of $2.3 million and placed under the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The center’s activities have included testing of technologies on the slopes of Mauna Kea where geologic conditions similar to the moon and Mars can be found.

PISCES has also signed agreements with a variety of organizations to develop technologies needed to allow humans to live in outer space, such as on the moon or Mars.

The organizations include the International Society for Terrain-Vehicles Systems in New Hampshire and the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at the University of New South Wales.

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