BY MIRIAM LANDRU – Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy predicted that American astronauts would visit the moon before the end of the 1960s, a historic agreement in its own right was signed in Hawaii. Gov. Neil Abercrombie calls it “a happy marriage” between the State of Hawaii and NASA.
Yesterday at the State Capitol, NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser and Abercrombie signed a two-year agreement – the Space Act Agreement Annex.
“This has been a non-partisan endeavor from the very beginning- it has gone through all administrations in one way or another,” Abercrombie said.
To support America’s space exploration plans, NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA, together with Hawaii will explore new technologies, capabilities and strategies including developing an International Lunar Research Park located at the University of Hawai’i- Hilo and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.
“Hawai’i does have the unique terrain. There are other places that have similarities for instance we do some of these tests in Arizona and the Atacama Desert in Chile. However the wonderful thing about Hawai’i is that it has the breadth of terrain, it has a wider space where we can do a wider space to send sample lunar rovers,” said Keiser.
In the future could we see big space rocket launches from Hawaii? Probably not. However, Keiser states there is an effort within Hawaii to develop a space port for small rocket launches. “It would involve private individuals, private companies, and students to develop smaller rockets to go up and do research. That’s a definite possibility in Hawaii.”
Hawaii’s Office of Aerospace Development will be the lead state agency for the project and aspires to enable economic growth.
“Hawaii was part of NASA with the Apollo program for its entire history and it continues to be so,” Keiser said.