NASA urges lawmakers to fund laser station study

Photo: NASA

NASA wants Hawaii to be ground zero for improving communications with its spacecrafts.

It’s urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would make money available for a study that would explore the possibility of building a laser optical communications ground station on the Big Island.

The study would include site surveillance and selection, an analysis of power and cooling requirements, environmental assessments and permits, an assessment of structural pads, and an analysis of roadways and clearances for the transportation of communications equipment. NASA also has the potential of investing up to $75 million into the project.

NASA currently uses ground antennas to communicate with its spacecraft, but that technology will soon be outdated.

“The project would have an astronomical effect on the economic future, by providing opportunities for improvements in Hawaii’s broadband and fiber optic infrastructure and providing high-tech jobs for our people,” Sen. Will Espero said in support of the bill.

“NASA studies have also shown the Hawaiian mountains to be the best location on earth for maximum cloud-free visibility and contact with the heavens,” said Badri Younes, NASA’s deputy associate administrator.

The measure will be heard in the House finance committee Thursday.

Read SB2583 in its entirety here.

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