East Hawaii News

PISCES Searches for Budget Solution

May 11, 2015, 10:51 AM HST
* Updated May 11, 10:52 AM
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A budget setback has left the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems in a budget crisis.

According to PISCES, lawmakers approved the purchase of an $8.5 million state-of-the-art headquarters and test facility, but denied the agency an additional $1.4 million that is needed over the 2016 fiscal year to cover the expense of personnel, administrative, and operation costs.

The rejection of the $1.4 million for current operations has left PISCES scrambling to save the agency from having to shut its doors.

“We are actively investigating funding options to allow continued operations through Fiscal Year 2016,” said PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso. “Otherwise, PISCES will close in early 2016, and unfortunately, that will mean we would have to cancel current and impending contracts and agreements.”

One of the high-profiled projects that is in danger of being impacted is the Moon Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems, known as Moon RIDERS. The program is a partnership with NASA, where students from Kealakehe High School and students from ‘Iolani School have the opportunity to conduct a historic experiment on the surface of the moon. PISCES officials say the experiment is a feat that, to the agency’s knowledge, “has never been done before.”

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In addition, the “lunar sidewalk” installed in Hilo on March 12 is at risk. The project is part of a partnership with the Hawai’i County Department of Research and Development, NASA, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and Kodiak FRP Rebar. Not only does the project have the possibility to pave the way for cost-efficient, green alternatives when it comes to construction in Hawai’i, but it can have larger implications for the moon and Mars.

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PISCES, a state-funded aerospace agency, says the spproved $8.5 million state-of-the-art headquarters would have the potential to support the High Tech Development Corporation’s incentive to create 80,000 new technology jobs, with salaries of $80,000 by 2030.

“Our goal with PISCES has been to attract new aerospace industry to Hawai’i, help create a high technology workforce, and provide dual-use technologies toward creating new high-technology industries in Hawai’i,” Kelso said. “But as it stands, the Center’s future is not in doubt.”

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