Big Island's south point won't be home to satellite-launching catapult

Big Island's south point won't be home to satellite-launching catapult
(Image: SpinLaunch)

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It sounded like something out a futuristic space movie. A California-based company wanted to launch satellites into space using a catapult.

And they were eyeing the southern tip of the Big Island as the launch site. Specifically, near Pohue Bay in Ka'u.

It was an idea that was met with split opinions.

Some lawmakers saw economic and scientific value in the project.

"This is one of those areas where Hawaii really should take advantage of our location and then bring in good quality jobs," Sen. Glenn Wakai, (D, Kalihi-Aiea) said.

Wakai toured their facility and said catapult technology is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional launch techniques.

But some Big Island residents who lived near the proposed area opposed another space-aimed project.

They were concerned the company kept residents out of the loop while considering the Big Island as the site.

"Come talk to us. We live here. This is the area that they're going to do those thing, so come to us," Elizabeth Kuluwaimaka, resident and Aha Moku representative for the Kau area said.

After community opposition, a Senate committee changed the wording of a special revenue bond that would've allowed the project to be built there.

"I heard from the people in Ka'u. I don't want to give residents the impression that any future launch site was destined for their neighborhood," Wakai said Friday. "

"I sincerely apologize for alarming the people of Ka'u," Sen. Wakai added. "I still believe Hawai'i can play a role in the global aerospace industry, but not at Pohue Bay."

HB2559 removed the location-specific wording. Now the project could be housed at an unspecified area other than the bay.

The demand for the company, SpinLaunch Inc., and others like it are high. There are reportedly 10,000 small satellites waiting to be launched.

Lawmakers said such demand could bring anywhere from $10 million to $15 million to the state per launch.

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