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NASA, Hawaii’s Partner For Space Exploration

Media Release:

NASA and the State of Hawai’i have agreed to collaborate on a wide range of activities to promote America’s human and robotic exploration of space. The partnership also will contribute to the development of education programs and foster economic opportunities including new, high-tech jobs.

The Scarab

The Scarab

Governor Neil Abercrombie and NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser signed a two-year agreement, formally called a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement Annex, during a ceremony today in the Governor’s Office. The ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic announcement committing the country to land an American on the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade.

NASA Engineers Checking Out the SCARAB

NASA Engineers Checking Out the SCARAB

“Hawai’i has been part of America’s space activities from the beginning of the space program when Apollo astronauts trained in the islands for their historic missions to the moon,” Governor Abercrombie said. “This partnership with NASA will broaden educational and employment opportunities for our local families and bring dollars into our economy.”

Moon dust to water

Moon dust to water

The agreement establishes a partnership between NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and Hawai’i to explore and test new technologies, capabilities and strategies supporting America’s space exploration and development goals.

Under the agreement, the state is proposing to explore the development of a prototype International Lunar Research Park at the University of Hawai’i on Hilo. It would use the state’s unique terrain, which is similar to that of the moon and Mars, to enable development and testing of advanced automated and tele-robotic vehicles. Researchers would benefit from Hawai’i’s natural geography, advanced communications, power generation and other technologies required for space exploration.


“This is the type of participatory exploration involving universities and small- to mid-sized high technology companies that is becoming an increasingly important component of the 21st century space program,” Keiser said. “Americans want to participate directly and personally in space activities. As we have seen from NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project and the Centennial Challenges prize competitions, harvesting the country’s innovative talent is important to the success of our future endeavors in space. The space frontier is opening in novel and exciting ways.”

The state will provide the prototype test environment and infrastructure for the proposed analog test facilities. NASA will evaluate new concepts and models for conducting space exploration. The state will explore the potential to develop and mature innovative space-related technologies for educational, industry and government use.

“From NASA’s perspective, this partnership can inspire ideas and applications from analog test sites that can be generalized to space exploration and development of the moon and other planetary bodies,” said Ames Director Pete Worden.

The state’s Office of Aerospace Development will be the lead state agency for the project, enhancing dialogue and coordination among the state, private and academic partners to enable growth and diversification of the state’s aerospace economy.

“We support NASA’s goal to promote public-private partnerships and multinational alliances to help reduce the cost, enhance the feasibility and accelerate the implementation of future space missions – leading to settlements beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Jim Crisafulli, director of Hawai’i’s Office of Aerospace Development. “Locally, this collaboration should catalyze Hawai’i-based economic innovation and engage engineers, scientists, educators, and students, as well as commercial entrepreneurs, to increase the opportunities and benefits of space exploration.”

For more information about the International Lunar Research Park, visit: https://sites.google.com/site/internationallunarresearchpark

For more information about Ames, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ames

For more information about Hawaii’s aerospace initiatives, visit: http://aerospacehawaii.info

The following pictures are from when the Media got to go up to Mauna Kea and check out the NASA equipment being tested  up there a few years ago. Click on the Picture for a larger view:

pahoaetc-029
Demonstrating Lunar Barrel Scooper
Demonstrating Lunar Barrel Scooper
Barrel Scooper for Lunar Dust
Barrel Scooper for Lunar Dust
More Demonstrations
More Demonstrations
Not sure what this is now
Not sure what this is now
Ramp for Lunar Dust Scooper
Ramp for Lunar Dust Scooper
Lunar Dust Scooper
Lunar Dust Scooper
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
SCARAB - Back
SCARAB – Back
Drill on SCARAB
Drill on SCARAB
Demonstrating the Mobility
Demonstrating the Mobility
Demonstrating the SCARAB
Demonstrating the SCARAB
SCARAB - Side
SCARAB – Side
NASA workers explain the unexplainable
NASA workers explain the unexplainable
SCARAB Million Dollar Tire
SCARAB Million Dollar Tire
SCARAB - Side
SCARAB – Side
SCARAB - Front
SCARAB – Front
Mauna Kea workers look on in awe
Mauna Kea workers look on in awe
Larson continures explanations
Larson continures explanations
Bill Larson - Chief, Applied Sciences Division, NASA
Bill Larson – Chief, Applied Sciences Division, NASA
Forgot the name of this toy
Forgot the name of this toy
Waiting for the UFO's
Waiting for the UFO’s
There were some boundaries
There were some boundaries
Parking Area
Parking Area
Trip Down in to Classified Site
Trip Down in to Classified Site
Wife and Weird Machine
Wife and Weird Machine
scarab-021
scarab-028
revolve
scarab-037
scarabtire
scarab2
scarab1
red-suits
valley2
valley

NASA Releases Video on the Testing That Took Place on Mauna Kea

Back in November, I got to go up to Mauna Kea and check out the Moon Rover (SCARAB) that was tested up there.

NASA workers at the Mauna Kea Testing Site

NASA workers at the Mauna Kea Testing Site

I wasn’t paid to go up there, I simply communicated with NASA officials and got the credentials to go there as a “Community Blogger”.

Media from around the world talking to NASA Reps.

Media from around the world talking to NASA Reps.

I just thought it would be a great once  in a life time opportunity for my wife and I to check the stuff out… as she is a total science fiction “buff”.

My wife and a machine that will create water out of "Moon Dust"

My wife and a machine that will create water out of "Moon Dust"

You can view my blog and pictures from that little trip up there here.

NASA released the following video today from this “Mission”:

Research teams and NASA experts on regolith, the material covering the Moon’s surface, held tests in Hawaii in November 2008, on equipment and lunar rover concepts that will help astronauts take advantage of resources onsite where they land. The tests were held in Hawaii because its volcanic soil is similar to the Moon’s. NASA tested prototype robotic rovers and excavators that could collect soil for oxygen generation systems. Rovers with prospecting equipment could search for water ice and volatile gases that could be used by astronauts on the lunar surface to reduce the amount of resources brought from Earth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9mHzt14NbA&hl=en&fs=1&]

New NASA Moon Rover Revealed – The Video

I was fortunate enough to be on Mauna Kea when they had the “Media Day” and got to see the SCARAB rover in action.

scarab

Here is NASA’s Latest Mars Rover. It doesn’t have a name yet, however, NASA is offering kids a chance to name it: (DOUBLE CLICK TO GO TO VIDEO)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG7WzcRFEYk&hl=en&fs=1]

NASA unveiled its latest prototype lunar vehicle at the tail-end of Barack Obama’s inauguration parade in Washington DC.

The Lunar Electric Rover was tested in the Arizona desert last October and is run by a plug-in electric Lithium-ion battery.

NASA is sharing its technology with the US automobile industry.

The strange looking vehicle has plenty of time to wait till being used for its intended purpose, as astronauts are not due to go back to the moon until 2020.

Media Day on Mauna Kea With NASA Developers and the Moon Rover

Today (originally posted 11/13/08) I had the privilege of taking part in the “Media Day” up top Mauna Kea.

I mentioned the SCARAB tests that would be happening on my blog here.

…NASA’s In Situ Resource Utilization project focuses on developing methods for astronauts to take advantage of lunar resources at landing sites on the moon. During two weeks of field tests, NASA will demonstrate prototype systems that could enable a sustainable and affordable lunar outpost by minimizing the amount of water and oxygen that must be supplied from Earth. The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, headquartered at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, will host the tests.

Reporters will be able to observe and photograph various tests of a prototype moon rover designed to prospect for ice in lunar craters, and two systems to manufacture oxygen from the lunar soil. Engineers involved in the development of these systems will be available for interviews…

There was about 30 – 40 people from the general media there.  People from Japan, Canada, the Mainland, as well as Hawaii.

NASA workers were from all over the place.

I arrived at the staging area about 8:30 and we all got debriefed.

We moved our cars to just below the staging area and then boarded 4X4’s to take us up the mountain to where the demonstrations were taking place.

About 2 miles off the main access road we finally descended into this valley on Mauna Kea:valley

It was really kind of a weird sensation.  I felt like I was in the movie “Close Encounters” at the end of the movie when they discovered the hidden military base.

valley2

It was very interesting, and VERY COLD.

I happened to be in the carpool with AP Writer Karin Stanton so it was kind of cool being able to feed off each others questions.  The person that was driving us… was one of the Big Wigs of the project and he was telling us the reasons behind Mauna Kea being selected as the test site.

The primary reasons were, the soil on Mauna Kea is similar to that of the Moon, the location and proximity of the site to other experiments being done, and the fact that the conditions over all on Mauna Kea were similar to that of the Moon.

There were official looking people that had Red Jump Suits on that were standing around ready to answer questions that anyone had:

red-suits

There are three things that are being field tested up there right now:

1. The Scarab:

scarab1

Look real close at the tires

scarab2

There was a  gentlemen that was from Michelin tires on hand to answer questions.  Michelin is providing the tires for the Moon Rover.  He actually told me that these tires were more then a Million Dollars!

scarabtire

Close up of tire:

scarab-037

2. We then got to look at a piece of the equipment that the SCARAB will carry on the moon.  This was known as RESOLVE: Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction, which basically can create water from Soil… or Moon dust:

revolve

scarab-028

3. They also had on hand their “CRATOS” which is a robotic excavator that will collect soil, however, this was not working at the time:

scarab-021

In total, we spent about 2 hours up there.  My wife was fortunate enough to be able to take vacation pay today so she was able to join me on this excursion.  Besides that, she’s the smart one in the family.

We got back into a Harpers 4×4 Rental Van.  William Ing and Peter Sur from the Hawaii Tribune Herald rode back to the staging area with us.  They informed me that it did not appear that the West Hawaii Today had sent anyone.

I’m sure the Tribune Herald will have more on this in the next day or two.

There will be a public demonstration on Saturday at the Imiloa Center in Hilo.

But the real footage that you are going to want to catch… Is Big Island Video News Footage of the story as soon as Mr. Corrigan is through Digitizing his footage and adding it to his site… that is where you are gonna see the action as well as video responses from those that were actually giving the tour.

A great day at the mountain… although it was stormy in Puna… it was a beautiful day up top Mauna Kea.

* I see Karin wrote up her piece for the Honolulu Advertiser here.

** More on these tires that the rover had here.

***UPDATE – Photo Gallery Added (Click Picture for Larger Picture)