Press Release

Hawaii Authorizes New Space Research Center Planning Simulated Moon Base on Big Island

By SpaceRef Editor
June 16, 2007
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Hawaii Authorizes New Space Research Center Planning Simulated Moon Base on Big Island

Hawaii lawmakers took a bold step toward independent leadership in space exploration by passing a bill, which was signed June 7 by Gov. Linda Lingle, establishing initial funding for a new research and education center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, known as PISCES, plans to offer space technology education for students of all ages, attract high-tech industry, and bolster the island’s technical work force through research and training programs using a simulated lunar settlement on the island’s volcanic terrain.

“The Big Island of Hawaii may be the closest you can come on Earth to being on the moon,” said PISCES Director Frank Schowengerdt, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and former director of NASA’s Research Partnership Centers. “Much of the island is covered with ash and rocks that are very similar to what you would find on the moon. Our goal is to use this precious resource with wisdom and sensitivity as we provide a place where scientists from universities, companies and space agencies will research, develop and test new space-related technology. PISCES will incorporate local historical and cultural perspectives in developing the lunar settlement as well as its research and education programs.”

The PISCES program will teach space explorers how to live off the land on the moon to produce oxygen for breathing, manufacture rocket fuel, construct habitats, grow food, and use sunlight for heating and electricity.

In addition to state funding, the center will be financially supported by partnerships with industries, universities and the governments of space-faring nations. “Several countries are planning lunar exploration missions, and PISCES will be a full partner in these efforts,” said Schowengerdt.

The concept for the center originated with the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology and Space Applications Program, JUSTSAP, a private organization working since the 1990s to promote international cooperation in space exploration.


Contact Beth McKnight, 206-780-1049, or Frank Schowengerdt, 571-309-3815

SpaceRef staff editor.