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August 3-9, 2020 / Vol 39, No 31 / Hawai`i Island, USA

31 Jul 2020, 21:12 UTC
August 3-9, 2020 / Vol 39, No 31 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Pacific Space Access Vital for Hawai’i 21st Century Resiliency

The Hawaiian archipelago, situated in the center of the Pacific Hemisphere, is a near ideal location to access space via ocean launch. At latitude 19° North, equatorial trajectories benefit from the extra push given by Earth rotation, minimal need for orbital plane change in comparison to Cape Canaveral (28.5° N) and relative lack of population downrange in all directions – allowing for a multitude of launch inclinations. While already an established leader in 21st Century Astronomy from Mauna Kea, the unique cultural, biological and geopolitical nature of Hawaii has proven problematic in past efforts at establishing USA pacific space access on the Islands: further militarization is politically untenable, as is environmental degradation, and indigenous land rights must be respected. However, technology has progressed: solid propellant, once a mainstay of orbital flight, has given way to less environmentally deleterious liquid combinations with sufficient specific impulse to loft LEO payloads. Ocean-based launch technology has also matured, with international Sea Launch platforms used on 32+ successful launches since 1999 due south of Hawaii, and CNSA Long March 11 flying March 2019 from a converted barge in the Yellow Sea. As such, the case ...

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