East Hawaii News

PISCES to Honor Onizuka in Special Ceremony

January 7, 2016, 12:03 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 9:06 AM
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NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka will be celebrated by the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems and Kea’au High School on Jan. 28.

Together, PISCES and the high school will host a 4 p.m. ceremony on the 30th anniversary of the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger mission. The space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.

Big Island native Onizuka was an astronaut on the Challenger mission.

Rob Kelso, PISCES Executive Director, decided on the event to pay homage to Onizuka, his family, and loved ones. Kelso worked closely with the astronaut during a secret shuttle mission in 1985 and considered Onizuka as “a dear friend.”

Onizuka was Hawai’i’s first astronaut, as well as the first Asian American and first individual of Japanese ancestry to reach space. His legacy lives on today with various buldings and facilities taking his namesake, including Onizuka Air Force Station in California, Onizuka Village family housing on Hickam Air Force Base, Onizuka Center for International Astronomy on Mauna Kea, and Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center at the Kona International Airport.

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An asteroid, along with a crater on the moon was also named after Onizuka.

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The event is open to the public and will begin at 4 p.m. There will be presentations by the United States Color Guard, Kea’au High School’s Taiko drummers, and a surprise unveiling of students’ recently reconstructed Space Shuttle Flight Simulator.

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