Broadcast 1261 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

22 Nov 2009 Jim Crisafulli
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Guest: Jim Crisafulli. Topics: Hawaii commercial spaceport, aerospace development and commerce. We welcomed Jim Crisafulli, Director of the Hawaiian Office of Aerospace Development to the show. In our first segment, we focused on Hawaii's plan to develop a commercial spaceport to service spaceplanes for space tourism. We learned that Hawaii is in the process of preparing for an environmental assessment regarding expanding the usage of several of their commercial airports to include the horizontal takeoff and landing of a spaceplane. As you will hear, this will enable Hawaii to have several spaceports without having to incur the cost for significant new infrastructure. We talked about the possibility of local opposition to any new development or expansion plans and the hope that the environmental assessment will suffice so that they do not have to go through a full EIR. Timing is estimated to take up to three years once Hawaii starts the environmental assessment which they have not yet commenced. Jim also talked about the long term prospects for space tourism. As we neared the end of the initial segment, we talked about the larger Hawaiian aerospace industry, the aerospace innovations on the various islands, and Hawaii serving as a bridge to important and prolific Asian-Pacific Markets. Jim addressed the space awareness level of Hawaiians. In our second segment, Jim received some questions that were skeptical about the market and future for space tourism, especially suborbital tourism. He said there were lots of questions but that it was a matter of when, not if. He received several questions asking him to clarify the commercial spaceport plans and again he said they were going to expand the use of some of their main airports and that the cost should be about $350-500K for the environmental assessment report. He elaborated from the first segment and said there would need to be new fuel, hangers, and other facilities for the spaceplanes, but there plan did not require any actual infrastructure for the takeoff and landing of the spaceplanes. He also pointed out that from Hawaii there could be orbital flights, not just up and down flights as going east would not be a problem from a commercial spaceport on any of the islands. He was asked about liability limiting legislation as what is in place in other states and he said they were aware of such legislation but that the actual discussion on adopting such measures was premature. Jim then talked about the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), and Hawaii's relationship with the other Asian-Pacific nations. He talked about SSP and recent beaming experiments held in Hawaii. In our third and final segment, listeners wanted to know if Hawaii was using an existing spaceport as their business model, specifically Burns Flat in Oklahoma or Mojave. He said no to using any spaceport as a model but that Mojave was closest to what they want to do given that Mojave was an operating commercial airport. In response to another listener's question, he said that aerospace development enjoyed bi-partisan support within the Hawaii legislature. He also mentioned the need for long term and strategic planning for the state. He said aerospace development has to be open minded and collaborative. A student asked him about job prospects for grad students in the Hawaiian aerospace industry and Jim suggested that interested parties send him a short letter and their resume and he would see what help could be offered. At the end of the show, in response to my question about future atmospheric and light pollution in the state that would impact their observatories, he said that they had passed a state law for dark skies, the Starlight Reserve State Lighting Bill. If you have a question or comment for Jim Crisafulli, you can email him at



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