Hawaii joins NASA in research partnership
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 14, 2010
The Obama administration might shift the construction of all space launch rockets to the private sector and propose designing “a true spaceship” that could ferry passengers to other planets, a NASA official said in Honolulu yesterday.
S. Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center near San Jose, Calif., said shifting launch vehicle construction and operation to private businesses would free NASA’s work force to develop a space vehicle that could travel to the moon, Mars or Venus.
Obama is to deliver an address tomorrow at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on his vision for human spaceflight.
“We’re going to turn over to the private sector the trucking-company business of getting material and people to low-earth orbit,” Worden said. “That’ll be huge opportunities for the private-enterprise system in the United States and our partners around the world.”
Military and space shuttle rockets already are partially privatized, he added.
The spaceship that NASA might design would allow people to “go a number of places in the inner solar system,” Worden said.
Worden was in Hawaii to sign a three-year Space Act Agreement with the state that would allow collaboration in a variety of activities involving small satellite development, advanced aviation, space exploration, education and science.
“Hawaii has been a big part of the space program since Apollo,” Worden said. “Our astronauts trained for their missions by walking on the moonlike volcanic terrain of the Big Island. Neil Armstrong, the first human on the moon, splashed down in the ocean not far from here and took his first steps back on Earth right here in Oahu. That’s really cool.”
Part of the agreement provides for small satellite development with the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory under a new program called HawaiiSat. The laboratory will train engineering and science students to design and build satellites the size of a bread box or lectern.
Gov. Linda Lingle said the agreement is an innovative partnership that will “leverage Hawaii’s unique location, strategic technological assets and capabilities, and international ties throughout the Asia-Pacific region to advance space exploration.”
“The economic impact (of the agreement) is immeasurable,” she said, “but I also think the educational and social impacts are immeasurable.”
NASA maintains a satellite tracking station on Kauai and has a long history of conducting deep-space observations from the advanced telescopes on the Hawaiian Islands. It also supports a broad range of educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.