Gov. Abercrombie Signs PISCES Appropriation Bills Totalling $750k

Gov. Abercrombie Signs PISCES Appropriation Bills Totalling $750k
Gov. Abercrombie Signs PISCES Appropriation Bills Totalling $750k

Gov. Abercrombie signed two PISCES appropriation bills into law this morning totaling $750k to fund groundbreaking initiatives in partnership with NASA. The governor said the bills will create opportunities for higher education, science and technology development, green industry, and economic growth in the State of Hawaii.

The first bill, HB2152, gives $500k toward strategic programs, general tasks, and administration in PISCES. The second, HB2583, appropriates $250K for an engineering assessment in partnership with NASA to build the world’s first long-term Laser Ground Communication Station on the Big Island.

For more info, contact PISCES Communications Specialist Chris Yoakum at (808) 333 6905.

PISCES Signs Fully Reimbursable Space Act Agreement With NASA Kennedy Space Center for Technical Support of PISCES Projects

June 25, 2013


Hilo, Hawaii – Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) has signed a fully reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Under the Space Act Agreement, KSC will provide technical support to PISCES in the development of advanced-human robotic systems and other technologies required for space exploration beyond low Earth orbit when such support is not available from commercial sources.

KSC’s support for PISCES may include technical services related to the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission Operations, advanced architecture concepts, development for interconnecting PISCES communications systems with other partner sites, advance regolith manipulation techniques, and advanced habitation systems and technology development. The Space Act Agreement between KSC and PISCES is for five years.

PISCES is a Hawaii state government space research and education center, placed under the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The non-profit conducts careful tests on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Scientists say there’s no other place on earth that has soil more similar to the surface of asteroids, the moon, and Mars, than on Hawaii’s tallest volcano.


Contact: Mari-Ela David Chock
PISCES Public Information Officer 808-554-0567

NASA, state open exciting frontier

Star-Advertiser Editorial: Our View – Lunar Research Park
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 27, 2011

While the future of the economy and NASA’s activities are uncertain, the space administration’s partnership with Hawaii in a new lunar research park on the Big Island holds much promise. NASA’s reduced budget will not be tapped for the park, but the state should find success in seeking private and government funds to launch the effort as early as next year.

NASA and the state’s Office of Aerospace Development are proposing to use the Big Island’s unique moon- and Mars-like terrain for testing automated and tele-robotic vehicles. Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted that the Big Island was used as a training site for astronauts on the original Apollo moon-landing missions.

The project was announced Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s commitment to land a man on the moon and return to Earth, and as astronauts were midway through Endeavour’s final flight of the decade-long space shuttle program.

A program to send astronauts back to the moon, known as Constellation, was started in 2005 under the Bush administration. Barack Obama said during his 2008 campaign that he supported the moon goal but has not shown much enthusiasm for it and has trimmed projected spending on it in future years. NASA funds will not be touched for the building of the research park on the Big Island.

“The Congress, the White House and NASA must quickly reach a consensus position on the future of the agency and the future of the United States in space,” the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel noted in its annual report last December.

Still, NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser said at the signing of a two-year agreement with Hawaii that the kind of “participatory exploration” envisioned at the International Lunar Research Park “is becoming an increasingly important component of the 21st-century space program. … The space frontier is opening in novel and exciting ways.”

Hawaii is positioned well to be an integral part in all this, and to grow itself a compatible high-tech industry in the process.

The Obama administration has indicated that NASA should turn to commercial companies for transportation to low-Earth orbit and invest heavily in research in technologies for future deep-space missions. Jim Crisafulli, director of the state aerospace agency, said he supports “NASA’s goal to promote public-private partnerships and multinational alliances to help reduce the cost, enhance the feasibility and accelerate the implementation of future space missions.”

Some state tax credits to draw aerospace-related industries may well be needed in the early stages, a worthwhile investment to launch a new sector that could pay off for Hawaii’s economy, educational programs and scientific prestige.

One eventual result of such a move could be the launching of commercial space tourism in Hawaii. Several commercial spaceports are located on the mainland. A bill to provide funds for application of a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration to establish space tourism in Hawaii passed both the state House and Senate this year but died in conference.

As the economy improves, the Lunar Research Park could play a key role in expanding Hawaii’s activities in space research and the commercial dividends.

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Big Isle shoots for the moon

Submitted by htribadmin on Thu, 05/26/2011 – 05:42

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The Big Island, of all places, has grabbed the inside track to benefit from NASA’s renewed efforts to reach the moon and beyond.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and a NASA official signed a two-year agreement Wednesday committing the state to develop a prototype International Lunar Research Park at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

The state Office of Aerospace Development will be charged with making the research park a reality, through the UH-Hilo Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES. Numerous advanced technologies need to be tested on Earth before being sent into the harsh environment of space.

Hawaii’s volcanic landscapes have been recognized since the Apollo program as an ideal place to test those technologies, said NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser.

“We have in Hawaii a unique moon-Mars terrain that can be used to take us to the future, to enable technology development and testing of advanced robotics, automated and tele-operated vehicles, in situ resource utilization, advanced communications, and many other technologies that are going to help us get to the moon, to Mars, and send humans beyond,” Keiser said in a brief signing ceremony in Abercrombie’s chambers in Honolulu. “This … builds on a 2007 initial agreement, and we are pleased to continue our collaboration with the state of Hawaii.”

The execution of Wednesday’s agreement with NASA’s Ames Research Center is dependent on the ability of Congress and the state Legislature to approve funds for the research center, which could be built in the area of UH-Hilo’s Science and Technology Park — home of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and various observatory headquarters. “What we would have there is a prototype of this Lunar Research Park, with robotics and all the communication capabilities, and learn how to use resources on the moon,” PISCES director Frank Schowengerdt told the Tribune-Herald.

Remotely operated technologies could be developed in Hilo and then tested on Mauna Kea, Kilauea volcano or at other sites.
Hawaii is touted as an ideal place to test future lunar technologies because the basalt rock, when crushed and heated, has many of the same properties as the regolith that comprises most of the lunar surface. In recent years, PISCES has built a temporary base camp on the midlevel slopes of Mauna Kea to test some of the lunar technologies. Engineers will return to the mountain this summer.

The agreement marks what officials hope is a new step toward a human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, which has not been achieved since the end of the Apollo program in the early 1970s. The signing ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s joint congressional address announcing the moon missions in 1961.

Today’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, of course, is a different animal. The new moon missions will be a collaborative effort that will include commercial and international elements. To that end Schowengerdt’s first priority is to build a consortium of aerospace companies, large and small, to participate in the effort. It’s part of a larger push to get the private sector involved in the business of spaceflight, along with the state of Hawaii, NASA and foreign governments.
“The moon would be the ideal place to develop the resources to stay long periods of time, to convert the soil to oxygen and water and even rocket fuel,” Schowengerdt said. Technology developed in Hawaii could also be used on future manned missions to asteroids or even Mars.

“I think this will cause a lot of interest among the local people, and hopefully a lot of jobs,” he said, adding the idea for a research park developed out of a series of workshops NASA held in recent years.

“The very islands of Hawaii continue to provide a basis for (space) training that’s unparalleled anywhere else in the rest of our planet,” Abercrombie said in his public remarks. “We’ll be reaching into deep space.”

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Hawaii, NASA agree to partnership

Pacific Business News
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 2:41pm HST

Hawaii and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have agreed to collaborate on a range of activities promoting human and robotic exploration of space.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser signed a two-year agreement Wednesday that establishes a partnership between the state and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. Under the agreement, both parties will test and explore technologies, capabilities and strategies that support U.S. space exploration and development goals, according to a statement from the governor’s administration.

As part of the agreement, the state is proposing to build a prototype International Lunar Research Park at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The park would use Hawaii’s natural terrain, which is similar to the terrain on Mars and on the moon, to enable the development and testing of automated and tele-robotic vehicles, according to the statement.

Hawaii’s Office of Aerospace Development will be the lead state agency on the research park project. The cost and start date of the project were not available.

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Reach for the stars from Hawaii

The state has many assets that can play a leading role in America’s quest to explore and colonize space

Photo Credit: Earth Observatory, NASA

(Editor’s note: The co-signatories of this piece are listed at the end.)
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic address before Congress, during which he set forth his visionary and ambitious goal toward “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” — within a decade.

Seldom has such a singular, concise statement made such a profound and lasting impact on the course of human history — empowering both our nation and the world to reach beyond the cradle of humanity” to explore both our origins and destiny in space.

Innovations borne of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs blazed new trails to scientific discovery, advanced our national engineering and manufacturing expertise, catalyzed revolutions in communications technology and computer science, enhanced environmental monitoring of our home planet, and ultimately afforded new frontiers for humankind to explore and develop.

Today, space exploration holds even greater potential for launching innovation in science and technology that can uplift our national economy, enhance global security, improve health care diagnostics and delivery, enable space-based renewable energy systems and ultimately engineer pathways toward sustainable settlements beyond Earth.

For the past half-century, Hawaii has leveraged its strategic mid-Pacific location, unique geographical terrain, and diverse research and business partnerships with Asian and Pacific nations to help advance our national space agenda — beginning with astronaut training for the Apollo lunar missions and the development of world-class observatories on the Big Island, and leading to groundbreaking programs in planetary geosciences, satellite communications, space-based remote sensing and other aerospace- related fields supported by the University of Hawaii, the U.S. military and tech-based companies statewide.

Looking to the future, President Barack Obama has challenged our nation to enhance humankind’s capacity to “‘work, learn, operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time.”

Congress also has called for a space program that will facilitate a “permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit.”

We believe Hawaii’s phenomenal resources, capabilities and experience can again be leveraged to help realize our nation’s vision for sustainable settlements beyond our home planet, and in so doing establish the Aloha State as both a major contributor to and beneficiary of global space enterprise.

Of course, growing federal deficits, rising energy costs and other economic challenges will mandate innovative approaches to reduce the expense, enhance the feasibility and maximize the returns of future space missions.

As such, we believe our nation will need to embrace a collaborative vision for space exploration — one that incorporates the monumental knowledge, resources and capabilities developed through our historic moon, Mars and other space missions, along with the substantial experience and achievements of other space-faring nations, to chart affordable road maps to space.

We also must leverage the substantial assets, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of our private sector on the space frontier — not only to maximize the potential benefits from research and exploration, but also to facilitate development and utilization of extraterrestrial resources that can benefit people on Earth, as well as support long-term settlements on other worlds.

Finally — and to ensure sustainability — we need an inclusive, participatory approach to space enterprise that will engage and empower the public to envision and articulate future missions to space — exploring what it means to be human in new environments — which in turn will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, humanists, artists, educators, doctors, entrepreneurs and other key professionals who ultimately will orchestrate our spaceward migration.

The heady days of Apollo endowed our nation with a pioneering legacy second to none, dismissed “can’t” from our daily lexicon, and fueled human aspirations to reach for the stars.

At this decisive juncture in our national development, we must restore America’s “can-do” spirit — launching international, public-private and community-based partnerships that can rejuvenate our economy and invest in our future.

We believe Hawaii can play a unique and leading role in this effort, truly opening the portals of space for all mankind.
Co-signatories of this piece are: State Sens. Will Espero, Carol Fukunaga and Glenn Wakai; state Reps. Angus McKelvey and Gene Ward; Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut; Charles Huettner, Aerospace States Association; Frank Schowengerdt, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems; Dan Bland, JAMSS America, Inc.; Stanley Rosen, National Space Society board; LeeAnn Crabbe, Queen Liliuokalani Trust; Lewis Peach, former director, Advanced Programs, Office of Space Flight, NASA; Joe Ciotti, Center for Aerospace Education, Windward Community College; Kris Zacny, Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corp.; Jim Dator, Futures Program, University of Hawaii-Manoa; Elaine Thorndike, Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology; Jim Crisafulli, Hawaii Office of Aerospace Development; Charles Noh, Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago; Jacob Hudson, UH Student Launch Initiative; Elliot Pulham, Hawaii Aerospace Advisory Committee and The Space Foundation; and former Gov. George Ariyoshi.

NASA Picks Hawaii to Prep Moon Base

NASA picks Hawaii to prep moon base
A research facility at UH-Hilo would test gear for lunar work

By B.J. Reyes, Star Advertiser

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 26, 2011


Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech committing the country to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth, the state and NASA announced a new partnership aimed at involving Hawaii in the next phase of the agency’s manned and unmanned exploration of the moon and deep space.

NASA would lend its expertise to Hawaii and any potential partners — government, academic or private-sector — in developing a prototype and in the testing of new technology to be used for an International Lunar Research Park, a project envisioned as a multinational base on the moon’s surface from which future space research could be performed.

The research park would be developed at the University of Hawaii-Hilo with test sites at higher elevations of Hawaii Island, possibly within Volcanoes National Park, where the unusual terrain simulates lunar conditions.

In announcing the partnership, Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted Wednesday the Big Island’s history with NASA, having served as a training site for astronauts on the original Apollo moon-landing missions.

“These very islands of Hawaii continue to provide a basis for training that’s unparalleled anywhere else in the rest of our planet, Abercrombie said.

NASA will not help pay for the building of the research park.

Abercrombie said he did not immediately know what the state’s investment would be, but that “it’ll be substantial.”

“All that’s in the process of being planned right now,” he added. “We’ll be going both to the Congress, and obviously to the Legislature as these things manifest themselves, on the practicality of construction and jobs associated with it.”

The state would provide the prototype test environment and infrastructure for the prototype lunar park facilities and examine the potential to develop innovative space-related technologies for educational, industry and government use, officials said. NASA, through the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., will evaluate new concepts and models for conducting space exploration.

The state’s Office of Aerospace Development will be the lead state agency for the project.

Rebecca Keiser, NASA’s associate deputy administrator, said the agreement allows the state to begin searching for partners in developing the prototype.

“It really will be up to Hawaii to determine the size of it, who they want the partners to be, what kind of additional research you want,” said Keiser, who signed the two-year agreement with Abercrombie Wednesday at a news conference in his office. “We’ll be helping along the way in providing assistance.”

Development of the International Lunar Research Park is envisioned as a three-phase process, with international government and private-sector cooperation, but no start date has been set.

Keiser said the prototype UH-Hilo park would get started with research as early as next year with initial testing of robotics that could be remotely controlled and used in testing rock and soil samples.

“The test is going to occur in 2012,” Keiser said. “The planning is going to lead up to that.”

Lawmakers applauded the announcement.

Sen. Will?Espero, a supporter of establishing space research and tourism facilities in Hawaii, said the Legislature will have to show its support of the project, likely through building and facility upgrades at UH-Hilo.

“When it comes to looking at diversifying our economy, this is the type of industry that we want,” said Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach). “If you look at this as an extension of what we’ve done with the telescopes on Mauna Kea, this is all about space exploration and aerospace initiative.”

Other initiatives could include tax credits and other incentives to attract aerospace-related industries to Hawaii as potential partners.

“What we’re going to do is build a lunar habitat here — (prototype) it here — of what it would look like on the moon,” Espero said. “You’re going to need businesses that are involved in materials, design, water, food growth, energy.

“Whatever you can think of, we want to (prototype) it here on the Big Island.”

Original Article:

Aerospace in Hawaii Week – October 4 – 10, 2009

The State of Hawaii will join over 60 nations worldwide this fall in celebrating World Space Week (October 4-10, 2009).

Established by the United Nations in 1999, World Space Week underscores the multiple contributions space science and technology have made over the past half-century to improve the human condition. Hawaii will participate by hosting a series of public events statewide highlighting Hawaii’s past achievements, current activities and future potential in both aviation and space exploration – including speaker and documentary presentations, exhibits and field demonstrations focused on astronomy, space-based observation of planet Earth, next-generation aviation, commercial space development, exploration of the Moon, Mars and other solar system bodies, and access to space.

As the global theme for this year’s event is “Space for Education”, special emphasis will be given to programs that highlight opportunities to enhance STEM education through aerospace – including teacher training programs to enrich classroom instruction in both aviation and space science.

For additional information, please contact the Hawaii Office of Aerospace Development at (808) 586-2388 or via email at

Aerospace in Hawaii Themes

Sunday October 4:  Next-Generation Aviation

Monday October 5: Astronomy: Understanding the Cosmos

Tuesday, October 6: Mission to Planet Earth: Global Observation and Monitoring

Wednesday, October 7: Commercial Space Development

Thursday, October 8: Lunar Science and Exploration

Friday, October 9: Beyond the Moon: Mars, the Asteroids, and other Solar System Bodies

Saturday, October 10: Access to Space: Rockets, Spaceplanes, and other Pathways to the Stars

NASA Announces Opportunities to View International Space Station

WASHINGTON — If you’ve never seen the International Space Station flying 220 miles overhead, this is the week to do so. The station will be in almost constant sunlight from Wednesday through Friday, offering an incredible view to sky gazers across the country.

In order to find out when the station will be visible over your city, visit:

The International Space Station, a unique partnership between the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Construction began in 1998 and will be completed in 2010. Seventeen crews have lived aboard the orbiting complex since 2000, including the current crew of three. Station residents have conducted important scientific experiments and gathered data to help assist future missions to the moon and Mars.

The next space shuttle mission, scheduled to launch May 31, will deliver the Japanese Pressurized Module, the largest payload to the station so far. Another unique viewing opportunity for sky watchers is when the shuttle is docked to the station, making it appear even brighter in the night sky.