We are a research center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo working to develop sustainable manufacturing technologies and industries that grow Hawaiʻi’s economy and advance the global human effort of space exploration. Through STEM projects and outreach programs, we offer hands-on learning experiences to the next generation of scientists, coders, engineers and explorers, inspiring them to dream big and pursue space-related careers.
We envision a thriving, sustainable aerospace sector in Hawaiʻi that provides high-paying job opportunities for kamaʻāina residents while accelerating aerospace technologies and industries that enable humanity’s quest to explore the far reaches of space.
The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) was originally founded under the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in 2007 by Dr. Frank Schowengerdt, a former director at NASA’s Research Partnerships Center. The Center’s early mission focused on providing access to high-fidelity analog sites located on Hawaiʻi Island to test and validate space technologies like planetary rovers and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).
In 2012, PISCES was legislatively transferred to the State of Hawaiʻi’s Dept. of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism under the Office of Aerospace Development. Its mission grew under state direction, pivoting to focus on economic development through applied research in ISRU and additive manufacturing, and promoting sustainable new industries to create jobs, internships, STEM learning opportunities.
During 2020, fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic hit Hawaiʻi’s tourism-based economy hard. State budget cuts resulted in a lapse of funding for PISCES and the agency was returned to its home institution of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Now, the Center has been restored as an economic driver and research institution with an emphasis on internships and STEM career programs for students.
Above: NASA’s RESOLVE (Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen Lunar Volatile Extraction) ISRU test in 2012 at a Hawaiʻi planetary analog site. Credit: NASA