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Alaska, Hawaii establish space partnership

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The HiakaSat project team: Eric Pilger, software engineer, left; Jeremy Chan, project manager; Luke Flynn, laboratory director; Lance Yone­shige, mechanical engineer; Trevor Sor­en­sen, project manager; Bill Doi, facilities coordinator; and Miguel Nunes, research assistant. In front of them are models of the Hawaii­Sat-1 satellite, right, which will be modified into Hiaka­Sat; the launch vehicle that will take it into space; and a CubeSat, 13 of which will be deployed by Hiaka­Sat.

Alaska and Hawaii agreed  Monday to work together to develop satellites, rockets and other aspects of space launches.

The two Pacific states will also share designs for rockets and satellites, cross-train personnel and share business and market development opportunities.

Universities in both states are working on miniaturized satellites, noted Craig Campbell, the president of Alaska Aerospace Corp., which his state established to develop a high-technology aerospace industry.

Hawaii is on the leading edge of making sure the small satellite technology works, and soon expects to launch one of the so-called "CubeSats," he said.

Alaska, meanwhile, also owns and operates a launch complex in Kodiak Island.

"I think we should tie that together," Campbell said.

Jim Crisafulli, director of the Hawaii Office of Aerospace Development Director said he’s looking forward to serving the Asia-Pacific region in a joint partnership with Alaska.

"The complementary qualities between the two states make (the agreement) so exciting," Crisafulli said.

Hawaii doesn’t have a commercial spaceport, though rockets may be launched into space from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

The range is used primarily for military purposes, but the University of Hawaii has plans to launch a miniature satellite from there soon.

The two signed the agreement at the Hawaii State Capitol one day before experts gathered for the 2013 Hawaii Aerospace Summit.

Alaska and Virginia earlier this year said they would share commercial space engineering and technical knowledge.

The aerospace summit will feature panel discussions on training Hawaii residents for aerospace careers and opportunities for expanding Hawaii’s role in the aerospace industry.

Henk Rogers, Honolulu-based technology entrepreneur and chairman of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, said people must explore space to protect against extinction, noting dinosaurs were wiped out after asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago.

"We have to go. Our mission is to make a backup of life on Earth," he said at a news conference before the summit.

"If we can take life as we know it to another planet like Mars, or even the Moon, it will be the most amazing that ever happens to that planet. And, I dare say, it would be the most amazing thing that we could do as a species."

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