East Hawaii News

PISCES, NASA Formalize Lunar Landing Pad Partnership

September 23, 2015, 4:23 PM HST
* Updated September 23, 4:24 PM
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A formal relationship between the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the development of a lunar landing pad test site on the Big Island has been confirmed through the signing of a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement.

The landing pad test site will be created with the aim to robotically build a vertical lift off and landing pad using basalt.

PISCES, along with the Hawai’i County Department of Research and Development tested basalt, or “lunar concrete,” in Downtown Hilo earlier this year along Kinoole Street on the opposite side of Lincoln Park.

Hawaiian basalt crushed rock will be used in the joint project, a material that is nearly identical to what might be found on the moon and mars.

With the project set to begin this fall, it’s hoped that in creating the landing pad site from these materials, the initiative might develop a method of building in space.

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PISCES efforts include the construction of a simulated lunar surface and performing launch pad building operations with PISCES’ telerobotically operated rover. In addition, PISCES will set up a mission control center for robotic operations of the construction and provide NASA the capability to remotely operate the leveling blade from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Efforts from the Kennedy Space Center include materials, such as the leveling and grading blade, and a robotic basalt paver deployment mechanism.

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