UH plays a vital role in Hawaii's first space launch

University of Hawaiʻi
Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, (808) 228-8108
Dir of Communications and Outreach, University of Hawaii Innovation Initiative
Posted: Apr 10, 2013


*Photos, video and sound are available for this story.  More information at bottom of news release.


HONOLULU – The University of Hawai‘i has vital responsibilities for the first space launch from the State of Hawai‘i, which is scheduled for October 2013.  When the Super Strypi missile takes flight from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua‘i, it will be carrying a satellite designed by University of Hawai‘i faculty and students.  UH will have also played a significant role in getting that satellite into space.


President M.R.C. Greenwood said, “Hawai‘i is located in a unique position to become a low-cost gateway to space.  The University of Hawai‘i is one of the only universities in the world to have both satellite fabrication capabilities and unique, direct access to orbital space.”


For the state’s first space launch, the University of Hawai‘i’s Hawaii Space Flight Lab (HSFL) is the contractor for the launch facility, three rocket motor stages (designed and built by Aerojet), and a satellite to be placed into low-earth orbit.  HSFL faculty and students are hard at work on HiakaSat.  “Hiaka” means “to recite legends or fabulous stories” in Hawaiian.  It is also an acronym for Hyperspectral Imaging, Aeronautical Kinematic Analysis.  The 110-lb. satellite is being designed to do a number of things including performing thermal hyperspectral imaging. 


HSFL was established in 2007 within the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the College of Engineering.  As a multidisciplinary research and education center, HSFL brings together individuals from diverse area and other UH campuses to work on the exploration and understanding of the space environment.  Kaua‘i Community College will be the primary communications link.  Honolulu Community College is designing one of the satellite payloads and will operate a receiving station during the mission.


Greenwood said, “The work on this mission is creating invaluable workforce development opportunities and training for students across the University of Hawai‘i system. In addition, UH is helping to develop Hawai‘i’s space science enterprise. We hope our graduates will go to work for related research and technology companies right here in Hawai‘i or will go on to form their own space-science related businesses.”


HSFL Director Luke Flynn says the university would like to be able to launch small satellites on a regular basis, which will attract companies that are looking for affordable ways to test space technology. 


Flynn says, “The University of Hawai‘i helps to hold down the cost by playing a key role in the research and development of space technology, which also gives students hands-on experiences.  This creates a win-win for the university, for the country, for the state, and also for the corporations that are willing to invest.”



ORS-4 Mission details:



Mission Manager:  Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Department of Defense

Partners:  Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF), Sandia National Laboratories, Aerojet, NASA Ames

This first space launch from Hawai‘i will:

·       Deliver payloads to Low Earth Orbit

·       Demonstrate an alternative launch vehicle concept that reduces total mission cost through a simple and repeatable process.

·       Move launch vehicle processing from heavy reliance on engineering hours to technician hours.

·       Reduce launch vehicle integration and processing timelines, contributing to responsive and lower-cost launches.





TV broadcast quality (will not play on most computers): http://yousend.it/11nlJD3

Lower resolution format viewable on most computers: http://yousend.it/ZAfF5e



•    Diamond Head

•    University of Hawai‘i Administration Building

•    HiakaSat attitude determination and control test bed (4 shots)

•    Wiring work (3)

•    Student-created animation showing HiakaSat’s temperature as it varies around orbit

•    Students looking at satellite animation (3)

•    Avionics Engineer Amber Imai and HSFL Director Luke Flynn looking at model rocket launcher and launch pad (3)

•    Project Manager Jeremy Chan and student looking at computer (3)

•    Kaua‘i Community College control center (3)

•    Pull out from Barking Sands, Kaua‘i  (from Google)




M.R.C. Greenwood, President, University of Hawai‘i (14 seconds)

“It could be a new economic sector here in Hawaii. This is a very attractive location for launching small satellites. Lots of expertise out here and we are hoping that it is a possible, new business model.”


Luke Flynn, Director, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (12 seconds) (on companies’ desire to find affordable ways to test space technology)

“To go bench-top levels basically to space qualified materials and that’s worth millions of dollars to companies so that’s how we are looking to fund the effort.”


Luke Flynn, Director, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (9 seconds)

“It’s actually a win-win-win in all situations, for the university, for the country, for the state and also for the corporations that are willing to invest.”


Jeremy Chan, Project Manager, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (9 seconds)

“It is really interesting for all the students to really be able to see what they learned in college being actually put into application. Suddenly, all the theory becomes reality.”





Various images with caption info are available for download at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/uhawaii/sets/72157633147668379/