Space Decentral is currently developing the Coral Program, a long-term project with the goal of developing the technology necessary for 3D printing habitats on the lunar surface, using in-situ resources.
Continuing our series of interviews with the Coral team, I want to introduce Carlos Gonzalez-Rivera, a Navy-trained aerospace engineer. Good humored and with a strong sense of pragmatic initiative, Carlos always has something of value to add to our discussions. Read on to find out a bit more about him.
Tell us a bit about your background and how space became part of your life.
Carlos: I’m originally from Cayey, Puerto Rico, and I am an aerospace engineer. Growing up in the “hood”, we didn’t have many options to make it out. Hence, education was my savior.
In a sense, my life solely revolved around the military. As a child, I always wanted to be a helicopter pilot, but it wasn’t until my 1st year in Uni that I got into aerospace. I met a bunch of Navy recruiters who talked about flying for the Navy and, one step after the other, I learned about the different accomplishments NASA’s had and the combat pilots’ contributions on their transitions from the Navy and Marine Corps to the Astronaut Selection Program. So you can say I was nurtured into it.
How did you find out about Space Decentral and the Coral program, and what made you want to participate?
Carlos: I was actually killing time before bed, reading an article on blockchain tech, and found both Space Decentral and Coral. I was hooked. I wanted to be a relevant part of the constant evolution of the aerospace community. With JSC (Johnson Space Center) out of reach, I had to get into the next best thing.
And what do you imagine when you think of the future of Coral?
Carlos: Oh that’s simple, finally making it to the moon so I can finally sleep at night! And it’s just that, as the coral in the reefs, we will grow.
What do you think of the collaborative approach of Coral?
Carlos: Very challenging from a logistical standpoint, but if it works, it’ll pay off. Just as JFK said, “…we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Did you have any experience with projects conducted this way before? Can you tell us a little about it, or how this differs from what you’re used to doing?
Carlos: Yes and no. It feels like I’m in my Senior Design course on steroids. And I can’t say that “I’m used to” a specific structure, mainly because I grew up having to immediately adapt to my surroundings.
What are the major obstacles of this project, in your opinion? Are these challenges related to the team dynamics or to technical difficulties?
Carlos: Easy, time and money. Truthfully, it’s too early to tell with the latter question. The best word to describe the process is “overwhelming,” but in a good way. I can definitely say that I am happy with the project, my only fear is that we won’t reach our financial budget on time.
And what is your part in this project?
Carlos: Overall I have a more organizational involvement due to my structured “military personality.” If leadership becomes a problem, I have the background to help the current leadership to get back on track. On the more technical side, currently, I’m dealing with additive manufacturing, the specs, aerospace applicability, and financial feasibility. Eventually, I hope to get my hands on the blockchain software.
What excites and inspires you most about being a part of Coral?
Carlos: The fact that something we are creating from the ground up can potentially go to the moon! And the fact I get to use what I’ve learned over the years with fellow engineers and scientists from amazing and beautiful cultures around the world. There’s nothing like discussing Young’s Modulus in Portuguese while eating gulab jamun.
What would you tell people about Coral to get them to join the team?
Carlos: I would argue that engineers are defined by what they can contribute to mankind. With Coral, there is a chance to contribute to something great. But I think it would be enough to tell them, hey cool guy, wanna give your kids a cool story to tell? Meet me in the stars ;).
This interview series is an ongoing effort to introduce members of Space Decentral to the greater community, and periodically we will release a new and unique story. To find out more about Space Decentral, please read other articles in this Space Decentral blog.
Space Decentral is a decentralized autonomous space agency that leverages blockchain technology to reinvigorate the push for space exploration with global citizens in control. Space Decentral promotes collaborative design of space missions, sharing research for peer review, crowdsourcing science, and crowdfunding worthy projects that accelerate human progress.