Hilo-based space center signs deal with NASA


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems has signed an agreement with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for assistance on its research projects.

The agreement replaces a similar contract with NASA’s Ames Research Center that expired in April, PISCES announced Tuesday.

Rob Kelso, PISCES’ executive director, said the space center will provide technical assistance for the Hilo-based organization, which seeks to increase the Big Island’s role in space research.

PISCES will reimburse NASA for the help it receives but it is looking to develop a non-reimbursable agreement as well, he said.

“That’s the next version of the act,” Kelso said, adding he is visiting NASA headquarters this week to discuss ways they can further partner on projects.

One such project could be 3-D printing.

Kelso said PISCES is seeking to develop printing technology that can make use of the island’s lava rock, which is similar to rock on the moon and Mars.

“That is one of the big things we are wanting to do,” said the former NASA flight director, explaining that future space explorers are going to need to make use of the materials around them.

“You are going to need to make … wrenches and tools out of the material that’s there,” he said.

Additionally, Kelso said PISCES will receive a rover on loan from Ontario Drive Gear, a Canada-based company, this summer or early fall for additional experiments.

It’s the same rover used by the organization before in 2010 and 2012, he said.

It will be loaned on a year-to-year basis.

PISCES is also getting ready to sign memorandums of agreement with several private entities, Kelso said.

The documents may be signed in July, and will be announced at that time, he said.

PISCES was created in 2007 and was initially part of the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Last summer, it was placed under the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and later given its own board of directors.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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