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Space-Related Centers at UH Target Next 50 Years of Exploration

Space-Related Centers at UH Target Next 50 Years of Exploration

Lisa Merkl
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As President Bush unveils his plans for the future of the space program, scientists and researchers at the University of Houston are mobilizing for the flurry of questions to follow. With a number of space-related centers on campus, UH already has its eyes on the next 50 years of space exploration and colonization. The Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials (TcSAM), Institute for Space Systems Operations (ISSO) and Texas Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles (TiiMS) put UH at the forefront of research in lunar colonization.

Experts from each of these institutions are available to discuss the space program.

Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA)   
SICSA is internationally recognized for its leadership in the field of space architecture and regarded as the leading academic center in the world for this kind of planning. With research that looks 15 to 30 years down the road, SICSA seeks to answer the question of how to live and work beyond the Earth’s orbit, dealing with the actual physical infrastructure of lunar colonization. A unique research, design and teaching entity, the organization’s mission is to plan and implement programs that will advance peaceful and beneficial uses of space and space technology. SICSA initiated the world’s first Masters in Space Architecture degree-granting program, established in September 2003.

WEB SITE: http://www.sicsa.uh.edu/
SOURCE: Larry Bell

Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials (TcSAM)  
TcSAM deals with the very practical aspects of bootstrapping energy generation with a focus on materials development. Addressing the next 10 to 15 years in space exploration, TcSAM is working on such projects as developing methods to manufacture huge solar cell arrays on the moon using materials from the lunar soil. This lunar regolith (the dust and rocks lying on the moon’s surface) contains the raw materials needed to make solar cells, and the technology is under development at UH. TcSAM scientists have the experience and the research required in the planning for man to leave Earth and head to the moon and Mars.

WEB SITE: http://www.uh.edu/tcsuh/
SOURCES: Alex Ignatiev
  Alex Freundlich

Institute for Space Systems Operations (ISSO)       
ISSO looks to the distant future, along the lines of 2050, with lunar colonization to build bases on the moon that collect solar energy and beam it through space back to Earth. It’s estimated that by 2050, a population of 10 billion would require about 20 terawatts of power, or about three to five times the amount of commercial power currently produced. The moon receives more than 13,000 terawatts of solar power, so to harness just one percent could satisfy Earth’s power needs. Such a lunar-based system to supply solar power to Earth would be based on building large banks of solar cells (electronic devices that gather sunlight and convert it into usable electricity) on the moon to collect sunlight and send it back to receivers on Earth via a microwave beam. The microwave energy collected on Earth would then be converted to electricity that can be fed into the local electric grid. The system could be built on the moon from lunar materials and operated on the moon and Earth using existing technologies.

WEB SITE: http://www.isso.uh.edu/
SOURCE: Dave Criswell

Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles (TiiMS)
UH is one of six participating universities in NASA’s Texas Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles (TiiMS). Adaptive shape reconfigurability, or “morphing,” is the main focus of this nationally funded research institute, with UH engineers and scientists concentrating on two broad research areas. The major focus of the UH initiative is to establish distributed intelligence architectures to improve flight and mechanical performance and safety of future aircraft and spacecraft. The second focuses on fabricating new nanomaterials that are stronger and lighter than conventional materials. TiiMS is one of seven NASA University Research, Engineering and Technology Institutes (URETI) related to NASA’s initiative to launch aviation and space flight into new frontiers of technological advancement and efficiency. URETI’s goal is to research and develop emerging opportunities in technology with potential for revolutionary impact on the pursuit of future NASA missions.

WEB SITE: http://tiims.tamu.edu/about.html
SOURCE: Dave Zimmerman

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

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