STAR-BULLETIN / MAY 2007
The Big Island's volcanic landscape will be the testing ground for technology that NASA intends to use for lunar and Mars exploration projects.
NASA thinks state is out of this world
Two NASA grants totaling $640,000 have been received by the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration System (PISCES) teams to conduct lunar simulations in Hawaii.
The program involves use of Hawaii's volcanic, moonlike terrain to test and evaluate technologies to support robotic and manned missions to the moon and Mars.
The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, a partner in developing PISCES, received $400,000 through a bill Gov. Linda Lingle signed into law earlier this year.
"These federal grants will support our administration's Hawaii Innovation Initiative and our efforts to develop opportunities in aerospace-related fields that capitalize on Hawaii's science and technology resources and capabilities," DBEDT Director Theodore Liu said in a news release.
He said PISCES will coordinate and manage NASA lunar field demonstrations on the Big Island.
At a PISCES inaugural conference in Hilo earlier this month, Lt. Gov. James R. "Duke" Aiona emphasized the necessity of multinational partnerships for future robotic and human missions to the moon and Mars.
"With PISCES, Hawaii is playing a leading role in sharing human, environment and technological resources with the international community to help us strengthen and diversify research and development programs that will advance the international aerospace industry," he said.
Under an agreement between the state and NASA signed in March, the NASA Ames Research Center and State of Hawaii will explore future collaborations in commercial space projects and programs supporting aerospace research, education and work-force development.