Video spotlights value of work on top of Haleakala

It’s the answer to “what’s up there?” with a Maui twist and a cool video.

The Maui Economic Development Board, with support from Maui County, has produced “Maui in Space,” a 12-minute video by filmmaker Jay April that focuses on the scientific work atop Haleakala to track satellites, the International Space Station, asteroids and space junk.

The video can be seen on YouTube at April produced, directed and wrote the video, which was edited by Louis DiLiberto of Artifact Studios.

“Making this film made me realize that Maui not only represents the summit of space situational awareness, but it leads the world in mankind’s understanding of asteroids and the sun; an amazing achievement by the largely unheralded but spectacular men and women of science who live and work here every day,” said April, who is president and chief executive officer of Akaku.

Space situational awareness refers to the ability to view, understand and predict the physical location of natural and manmade objects in orbit around the Earth, according to the Space Foundation. Knowing where objects are in space is critical to avoiding collisions, an important objective when expensive satellites are at risk.

“Our society revolves around using space,” said Stacie Williams of the Air Force Research Laboratory. “The video shows Maui’s contribution to space situational awareness . . . It’s an educational video that shows the importance of the work being done here.”

According to the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, Haleakala is “one of the most important observing sites in the world,” providing a high-altitude site with “superb seeing conditions and dominant clear skies.”

Facilities atop the dormant volcano include the Air Force’s Maui Optical Station, the Maui Optical Tracking and Identification Facility and a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance site operated by the U.S. Air Force Space Command. The Air Force uses the 3.67-meter Advanced Electro-Optical System telescope, which also is used by the University of Hawaii.

Also at Haleakala’s summit are the Mees Observatory, the Pan-STARRS telescope, the Faulkes Observatory and the Zodiacal Light Observatory. In late November, construction began on the $300 million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, a project by the University of Hawaii and the National Science Foundation.

According to MEDB, the film was produced as an introduction to astronomy research on Maui and the Air Force’s work to keep track of objects in orbit.

“We are pleased that the film will be used by the Air Force in its educational outreach to Maui students in grades K to 12,” said MEDB Program Director Sandy Ryan. “We hope this will assist educators in inspiring their students to engage in science and math and see how it relates to their everyday lives on Maui.”

MEDB also has produced a glossy publication, the “Maui Business Report.” It features a variety of Maui County businesses, including Maui Plumerias, and how the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is working toward becoming more energy efficient.

“We believe the report conveys the impact business and technology have in Maui County today and in the future,” said MEDB President and Chief Executive Officer Jeanne Skog.

The business report is available at no charge at the MEDB offices in Kihei.

For more information, call 875-2300 or go online to