September 18, 2015 – KinetX Aerospace and the world-renowned Russian National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) are teaming on research efforts to detect and deflect potentially harmful asteroids from colliding with Earth. The Chelyabinsk asteroid event in Russia highlighted the destructive power of smaller asteroids (it was only 17 meters across) that are not currently tracked.
A recently signed Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) solidifies a new phase of the ongoing relationship between KinetX and NRU HSE and the success these organizations achieved over the past year on a MegaGrant contract.
The initial focus of the joint team under this MOC was planetary defense. The KinetX / NRU HSE team presented initial approaches to tracking potentially dangerous asteroids not currently being tracked as well as how the risk might be mitigated at the International Academy of Astronautics Conference, “Gathering for Impact!”, held in April in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Further work outlined in the MOC includes interplanetary space projects that advance space education, international space missions and commercial ventures.
The initial MegaGrant contract from the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, teaming with the Moscow State Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM; now merged with NRU HSE), was won by Dr. David Dunham of KinetX in October 2011. Under the MegaGrant, the teams researched space missions to detect and classify asteroids and comets passing near the Earth. This grant also covered work to develop the means to modify orbits of space objects to prevent collisions with our planet, as well as to develop optimal trajectories to extend human exploration to interplanetary destinations.
“The next steps in space will be done via international and commercial cooperation, not by individual countries trying to shoulder the entire expense,” said Dr. Dunham. “Relationships like ours that team the research prowess of NRU HSE with the deep space exploration experience KinetX personnel have in landing a spacecraft on an asteroid, and soon with OSIRIS-REx, are a solid foundation for mutually beneficial advancements.”
“This MOC unites us in a common goal of developing international space missions between Russia and the US, and promoting the exploration of commercial space ideas and projects,” said Professor Vladimir Kulagin. “Our focus on science transcends geopolitical concerns as we work together to design business models and creative solutions that leverage the combined talent and knowledge of our teams for the good of mankind.”
The MOC will provide an opportunity for NRU HSE to utilize the newly-developed Laboratory of Space Research, Technologies, Systems and Processes that was started during the execution of the MegaGrant contract. This laboratory focus is on the development of world-class space research and to provide students and post-graduates an opportunity to develop and work on actual space missions.
The MOC requires the same strict adherence to all International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which the KinetX / NRU HSE team have followed during MegaGrant contract, operating under a Technical Assistance Agreement that was approved by the U.S. State Department.