A fun diagram comparing our balloon (upper left) with some other vessels of exploration through history. Figure by Dr. Cameron M. Smith, Summer 2015.
We design, build and test innovative technologies for the Second Space Age, focusing on lowering the cost of space access, the settlement of Mars, and eventually, exploration beyond our Solar System. We have three main domains of work at present.
Before reading more, you might want to check out our 2015 TEDx Portland presentation, where two of our pressure suits are featured in the last few minutes!
We are building new launch-entry pressure garments that are lighter, simpler and cheaper than those used by NASA and ROSCOSMOS. Our Mark I suit was tested in Copenhagen University Hospital’s pressure chamber in Summer 2013 with good results, and our Mark II suit was tested in a Bell 206 Long Ranger flight to 17,000 feet in Summer 2014, also with good results. Our Mark III ‘Plasma’ suit is currently being designed and fabricated for flight testing to beyond the Armstrong Limit at 65,000 feet above MSL (mean sea level) in a series of balloon flights organized as the Armstrong Line / FL650 Expedition.
Mars Exploration Technologies
We are designing two novel pieces of equipment to assist the human exploration of the surface of Mars by foot. There will be no point in going to Mars unless exploration of the surface, on foot, is safe, easy and routine: the name of the game on Mars will be to Explore, as humans have done on Earth for millions of years. To this end we are applying what we know from the history of human exploration on Earth to the design, manufacture and testing of innovative technologies for Mars terrain exploration. Our designs highlight simplicity, versatility and field-maintainability.
Multigenerational Interstellar Voyaging
We are researching the biological and cultural domains of long-term voyaging beyond Earth. Much of this work involves Dr. Smith’s position as a Team Member on Icarus Interstellar’s Project Hyperion, a reference study for the design and construction of an ‘Interstellar Ark’. Dr. Smith’s work in this field was recently published in Acta Astronautica, journal of the International Academy of Astronautics, under the title Estimation of a Genetically Viable Population for Multigenerational Interstellar Voyaging: Review and Data for Project Hyperion.
Additionally, team member Alexander Knapton is researching long-term, regenerable technologies related to life-support systems.