EL PASO, Texas (UTEP PR) — A group of space experts at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was awarded $85,000 to study the potential installation of a new generation of space launching services in Portugal. The team is led by Nathaniel Robinson with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects and includes UTEP alumnus and former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas, Ph.D., and Darren Cone, executive director for UTEP’s Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR).
“Our team is honored and eager to contribute to this international collaboration,” Robinson said. “Such multinational efforts are instrumental in developing strategies and systems to drive smart growth and create long-term sustainability of large-scale projects.”
The Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) in Portugal commissioned a feasibility study to establish an “open space port” within the Archipelago of the Azores and is funding the research. The UTEP experts are co-leading the effort with The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research.
“While the project is centered on the potential for a new generation of space launching services through a possible spaceport in the Azores, the project’s impact may reach much further into larger Portuguese and Azorean science and technology development, economic growth, and future university and private innovation systems,” Cone said. “We’re happy to be a part of this thrilling first step and eager to see what other roles UTEP may have in the future.”
The team will conduct a detailed assessment in the coming months for the installation of a new generation of space launching services through the potential Azorean spaceport, taking into consideration such aspects as technical, economic, environmental and safety requirements in a context of increasing rate of technical change and global developments in new and emerging space industries.
“Beyond just the scope of the project, this is also a chance to showcase the many space-related research capabilities at UTEP,” Olivas said. “We are as excited about what this could mean for the Azores and Portugal as what it could be for CASSMAR, the MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR), the W.M. KECK Center for 3D Innovation, and other UTEP research centers and the many students that they serve.”
From left: Darren Cone, executive director for UTEP’s Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR); College of Engineering Dean Theresa Maldonado, Ph.D.; UTEP alumnus and former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas, Ph.D., and Nathaniel Robinson with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.