WEB EXCLUSIVE: Hawaiian lawmakers vote on space tourism, moon colony bills

Published: May. 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM CDT|Updated: May. 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM CDT
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii lawmakers are expected to pass two bills on Thursday that would bring the state closer to space tourism and even developing the moon.

Imagine this runway out here in Kalaeloa as a space port capable of taking tourists to outer space. Some lawmakers say that possibility is closer than ever before.

The sky is not the limit for space tourism but money is.  In the past the idea had support but the funds haven't been released.

"It looks like this is going to be the year for the aerospace industry and in particular space tourism," said State Senator Will Espero, (D) Ewa Beach, who introduced the bill.

First Hawaii needs a space port license from the FAA.  Ten states already have or are applying for one.  The state needs to front $250,000 and hopes the federal government matches that amount.  The application deadline is May 11.

State Senator Espero says Hawaii can easily recoup the money from interested companies especially since space tourism is projected to be a billion industry in ten years.

"Hawaii will be able to embark on a new era in travel. Basically not going from country to country but to go into that next frontier, space and lower earth orbit," said Sen. Espero.

New Mexico has already taken the lead.  Sir Richard Branson and his company Virgin Galactic recently opened its space port last fall.  At the opening Branson said 450 people from 46 countries have already paid as much as $200,000 to fly to space.  The flights going 62 miles high could begin as early as next year.

"Branson can have a space plane in New Mexico and he can have a space plane here locally," said Sen. Espero.

As if that weren't lofty enough another bill expected to pass would build an International Lunar Research Park on the Big Island.  The facility would help create robots designed to develop a colony on the moon and have the first human settlement on the moon within 10 years.

To get that going the state would invest half a million from the budget and float another $1.8 million in bonds in order to float the moon development.

But before any of that happens lawmakers have to approve both bills Thursday which is expected.  Then it's off to Governor Neil Abercrombie's office for approval.

To read more about Senate Bill 112 on space tourism click here.

To read more about House Bill 2873 on the moon colony development click here.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.