HILO – The Hilo-based Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, faces closure in early 2016 after the Hawaii State Legislature failed to appropriate the general funds needed to keep the operation running.
In a media release, PISCES called the legislative session a “mixed outcome”, after funds were simultaneously approved for a new headquarters and test facility.
PISCES is in an awkward financial position after lawmakers approved the purchase of an $8.5 million state-of-the-art headquarters and test facility for the agency, but declined to add $1.4 million in general funds needed to cover personnel, administrative and operations costs for the upcoming fiscal year (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems
Now, PISCES says it is “working to save the agency from shutting down”.
We are actively investigating funding options to allow continued operations through Fiscal Year 2016. Otherwise, PISCES will close in early 2016, and unfortunately, that will mean we would have to cancel current and impending contracts and agreements.” Rob Kelso, PISCES Executive Director.
PISCES is a government aerospace agency under the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). Using Hawaii’s lunar-like volcanic terrain, PISCES conducts environmentally-safe field tests to experiment and validate advanced space technologies.
In a media release, PISCES focused on two high-profile projects that are now in jeopardy. One of them is Moon RIDERS (Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems), a program in partnership with NASA “that has given Kealakehe High and `Iolani School students the opportunity to develop a historic experiment on the surface of the moon – a feat that, to the agency’s knowledge, has never been done before.”
Big Island Video News posted a story on the recent MoonRIDERS field tests conducted on the slopes of Mauna Kea.
PISCES also says the “lunar sidewalk” project is now at risk. A special concrete demonstration was recently installed in Hilo, and “could pave the way for cost-saving, green alternatives for Hawaii construction, but also for the moon and Mars.”
Big Island Video News covered the event:
Our goal within PISCES has been to attract new aerospace industry to Hawaii, help create a high technology workforce, and provide dual-use technologies toward creating new high-technology industries in Hawaii. But as it stands, the Center’s future is now in doubt.” Rob Kelso, PISCES Executive Director.