Spaceport meeting slated for Wednesday

A public meeting will be held Wednesday in Hilo on a proposed spaceport.

The informational open-house is part of the environmental assessment process for the small satellite launch facility the Alaska Aerospace Corp. is seeking to build on W.H. Shipman land.

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It will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Grand Naniloa Hotel.

Written comments will be accepted at the meeting. They also can be submitted until March 6 to PSCH.EA.Project@kfs-llc.com.

Alaska Aerospace Corp., chartered by the state of Alaska, operates a rocket launch site on Kodiak Island.

Representatives say they want to build a launch site in East Hawaii because it can accommodate equatorial launches for companies seeking to place small satellites, primarily for imaging, into orbit.

The site would only be used for commercial purposes, according to Alaska Aerospace Corp.’s CEO.

Up to 24 launches a year would occur on the site, located between the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm and the ocean.

Peggy Farias, Shipman CEO, said at a meeting in Panaewa recently that the approximately 13-acre site is 3 miles from the nearest Panaewa farm lot and 1.5 miles from Haena beach, also known as Shipman beach. She said Shipman hasn’t decided yet whether to host the facility.

The state Legislature approved spending $250,000 on the EA in 2017, with matching funds from Alaska Aerospace Corp.

According to the state Office of Aerospace, $225,000 was released for the project.

The spaceport would use both liquid and solid fuel rockets.

Rockets could be between 40 and 60 feet in height.

Alaska Aerospace also has looked at potential sites on Guam and Saipan, but considers East Hawaii to be the best location.

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On the web: www.pscheaproject.com.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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