UTEP to become hub of commercial space exploration

By UTEP Media Relations —

The University of Texas at El Paso signed a cooperative and international affiliation agreement with
Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) on Monday, July 29 to
form a new academic and research partnership.

The partnership allows for faculty and student exchange, as well as collaborative research on advancing aerospace technologies.

KyuTech has been historically funded by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace
Exploration Agency, and plans to collaborate with the NASA University
Research Center (URC), and Center for Space Exploration Technology
Research (cSETR) at UTEP.

“This is more than just a signing ceremony,” said Ahsan Choudhuri,
Ph.D., chair and professor of mechanical engineering. “This is a
long-term strategy to build this region into a commercial aerospace
hub.”

He added, “There is already an interest to utilize this region for
aerospace purposes, so we are going to capitalize on this dawn of
commercial space exploration by placing ourselves as the strategic lead
of capabilities in the area.”

The University plans to work with two nearby entities: Spaceport
America and Blue Origin. With a launch and test facility in Van Horn,
Texas, Blue Origin, LLC is an aerospace company that plans to develop
technology to enable private human access to space. Located in Sierra,
N.M., Spaceport America is a launch site dedicated solely to commercial
space flight to take customers into space.

Expanding off a winged rocket platform developed by Kyutech, the UTEP
collaboration will result in a reusable, suborbital vehicle to validate
emerging space technologies.

UTEP will provide the propulsion systems and assembly of the vehicle
that will utilize avionics and structural components from the Japanese.

“Our goal is to show that our capability goes beyond the lab and training students for aerospace careers,” Choudhuri said.

Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering, said, “This ceremonyis an indicator of the capacity building UTEP aims for in creating
unique opportunities for our region while making international impacts.
It also stands as an example of the many exceptional ways we find to
educate, train and prepare a more advanced workforce.”