Posted on Jun 1, 2011 in Lunar Research Park, NASA, Space Exploration

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

Aerial view of the Hawaiian Islands

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.