WAILUKU - U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka tentatively secured $207.5 million Tuesday for Hawaii - including $48 million for Maui - toward military spending.
Most of the Maui money will go to Science City atop Haleakala, which is a hodgepodge of mostly U.S. Air Force and University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy telescopes, cameras and supercomputers.
Since 2006, Haleakala has been the site of the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, or PanSTARRS, prototype telescope system designed to identify potentially Earth-threatening asteroids in space.
University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy illustration
Hawaii’s U.S. senators backed a massive military spending bill Tuesday that includes $10 million to continue funding the PanSTARRS telescope and camera project, which searches space for dangerous asteroids. Haleakala has a smaller prototype of the system. The U.S. Air Force likely will build a $140 million version of it on Mauna Kea on the Big Island in the next several years.
Haleakala's PanSTARRS is a prototype, said Mike Maberry, associate director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in Pukalani. The university is a partner on the $68 million project, to date, along with the private Maui High Performance Computing Center and government's Maui Space Surveillance System.
The PannSTARRS prototype is one-fourth the scale of the final project, which likely will be located on the Big Island's Mauna Kea, although Haleakala is the backup site, Maberry said. The senators allocated $10 million in what is essentially annual funding for the telescope system, which is expected to have a final price tag of roughly $140 million, Maberry said. The project proposed for Mauna Kea is undergoing an environmental impact statement.
The total $207.5 million for Hawaii military spending was just a sliver of the U.S. Senate's $626 billion Defense Department omnibus bill, which passed the Senate 93-7 on Tuesday.
It next goes to a Senate-House conference committee, and then for final approval by all of Congress, before the measure heads to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature.
"Developing the infrastructure, technology and services that support our men and women is critical, especially at a time when we are waging war on two fronts," said Inouye, who is chairman of the Defense subcommittee and a World War II veteran.
The 38 appropriations for Hawaii include sea mine detection, better missile interception technology, international humanitarian relief and natural disaster preparedness and destroyer and Pearl Harbor shipyard repair as well as an entire array of better Earth and space monitoring equipment. Inouye noted that the military is the second largest industry in Hawaii, and its continued financial support is critical to the state's economy.
Akaka said that the bill would secure funding for research and development of "cutting-edge" military tools.
Other Maui projects slated to receive funds in the bill include $20 million in operations dollars for the Maui Space Surveillance System (MSSS) operations and research, which is managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
This facility, which was built in the 1990s on Haleakala, has the Defense Department's largest telescope, the 3.67-meter advance electro optical system as well as several other smaller telescopes. It tracks satellites and other objects in near-earth orbit.
These are the other Maui projects in the Pentagon spending bill:
* $6.5 million to MSSS to improve "space situational awareness capabilities" and missile intercept recognition.
* $5 million in continued funding for the High Accuracy Network Determination System, which tracks space data for the Air Force.
* $4 million for real-time optical surveillance techniques.
* $2.5 million to the Hawaii Advanced Laboratory for Information Integration, which is a warehouse and distribution hub for military intelligence in the Pacific Theater.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at email@example.com.