SpinLaunch spun out of Ka’u

West Hawaii Today - - Hawaii News - BY MICHAEL BRESTOVANSKY

HILO — Ka‘u res­i­dents dur­ing a com­mu­nity meet­ing Satur­day ex­pressed their con­sid­er­able dis­ap­proval of a fa­cil­ity pro­posed to be built in Ocean View that would launch satel­lites.

In the face of se­vere back­lash against Cal­i­for­nia space­flight de­vel­op­ment com­pany SpinLaunch Inc. and its plans to con­struct a rev­o­lu­tion­ary satel­lite launch fa­cil­ity near Po­hue Bay, an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion about the project was hosted Satur­day morn­ing in Naalehu.

Oahu Demo­cratic state Sen. Glenn Wakai, who in­tro­duced a bill that would pro­vide sup­port to SpinLaunch in the form of up to $25 mil­lion in spe­cial purpose rev­enue bonds, apol­o­gized for his fail­ure in ob­tain­ing feed­back from the res­i­dents of Ka‘u be­fore in­tro­duc­ing the bill, as well as for a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion on his part that led peo­ple to think the com­pany was specif­i­cally tar­get­ing Ka‘u.

The pri­mary speak­ers dur­ing the meet­ing, how­ever, were two rep­re­sen­ta­tives of SpinLaunch: Ryan Hamp­ton, di­rec­tor of launch site de­vel­op­ment, and project man­ager Raphael Feld­man.

Feld­man ex­plained that the state of Hawaii is only one of six states be­ing con­sid­ered as lo­ca­tions for the fa­cil­ity. Hawaii is ideal, how­ever, be­cause in ad­di­tion to be­ing near the ocean — a re­quire­ment for the fa­cil­ity — it is lo­cated near the equa­tor, which al­lows the launch fa­cil­ity to take ad­van­tage of the planet’s greater ro­ta­tion speed there.

A video by Big Is­land Video News shows dozens of res­i­dents re­spond­ing with de­ri­sion or anger to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ re­marks through­out the meet­ing. Among their crit­i­cisms in­clude its pre­sump­tion in us­ing Ka‘u land with­out the ap­proval of its res­i­dents, the dan­ger it poses to cul­tural land­marks and indige­nous fauna in the process, with­out ever com­mu­ni­cat­ing with res­i­dents and the im­pli­ca­tions of stor­ing rocket fuel in a Lava Zone 2 area — al­though SpinLaunch claims to be able to launch satel­lites with­out re­quir­ing rock­ets.

How­ever, the two af­firmed that con­struc­tion would not go ahead with­out com­mu­nity sup­port.

“We are not go­ing to come to a com­mu­nity that doesn’t want us,” Hamp­ton said. Sev­eral at­ten­dees re­sponded with raised hands to con­firm they did not want SpinLaunch in the area.

Hamp­ton in­vited res­i­dents to keep an open mind and wit­ness the ben­e­fits of the com­mu­nity where SpinLaunch’s fa­ciliy will even­tu­ally be built. How­ever, he con­cluded, that com­mu­nity will very likely not be in Ka‘u.

A full video of the meet­ing can be found at big­is­land­videonews.com

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