About Us


We are an aerospace research center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo  developing sustainable technologies and industries that benefit Hawaiʻi and space exploration. Through STEM programs, internships and community outreach, we offer hands-on learning experiences to future scientists, coders, engineers and explorers—encouraging 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.


  • We seek to educate, inspire, and offer unique opportunities to students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields.
  • We work to develop the use of advanced technologies in space exploration that results in a direct benefit to our local communities
  • We utilize and facilitate testing of planetary robotics through our world-class planetary surface simulation testing sites
  • We research the next generation of additive manufacturing technology with practical and sustainable applications
  • We develop and execute collaborative efforts in the international community of aerospace, robotics, and technology, to further the collective human endeavor of space travel, utilization, and discovery


Projects & Programs

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Applied Research

Researching dual-use technologies for Earth & space.

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Aerospace Development

Diversifiying & growing the local economy.

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Internships & Education

Hands-on STEM projects & programs for future explorers.

Our Story

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) is the brainchild of former leaders at the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology and Space Applications Program (JUSTSAP). PISCES was created to be a space development initiative consisting of industrial, academic, and governmental partnerships between space-faring nations around the world—especially those in the Pacific Rim. In 2007, PISCES was officially created with funding from the Hawaiʻi State Legislature through a joint effort between UH Hilo, JUSTSAP and the Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). Under Dr. Frank Schowengerdt, a former director at NASA’s Research Partnerships Center, The Center’s early mission focused on providing access to lunar/Martian analog sites on Hawaiʻi Island. These sites served as test-beds to validate space exploration technologies like planetary rovers, science instruments,  and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) tools.

In 2012, PISCES was legislatively transferred to DBEDT under the Office of Aerospace Development with an expanded mission including economic development. Under this new directive, the Center drove revenue to Hawaiʻi in the form of research grants and aerospace opportunities that could create new jobs and STEM education opportunities for residents. In 2020, fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic hit Hawaiʻi’s tourism-based economy hard. State budget cuts resulted in a funding lapse for PISCES and the Center was returned to its home institution of UH Hilo. PISCES has since been restored as an economic driver and research institution at the university with an emphasis on internships and workforce development through STEM career programs.

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