Hawaii Partners with China on Moon Landing

Courtesy of International Lunar Observatory Association

Next year, the Chinese space mission Chang’e 3 is embarking on the first soft moon landing in 40 years — and Hawaii scientists will have a pair of eyes on the trip.

"This is exciting because someone is finally going back to the moon," said Steve Durst, founder and director of International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA).

Durst's organization signed an agreement with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) last week granting Hawaii scientists the chance to look through China's lunar telescope on the historic expedition.

In return, Chinese scientists will get observing time on Hawaii telescopes on two upcoming lunar voyages.

While the Chinese expedition will be historic —the last time a spacecraft landed on the moon without being destroyed was in 1976 —the agreement itself is a big deal.

According to Durst, it's the first moon-related partnership between American and Chinese organizations.

And if some Hawaii government officials have their wish, it could help spark a larger aerospace industry in the islands.

John Hamilton, deputy director of Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) at the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), said he thinks the state should follow Durst's lead and partner with China as well.

“The future of space exploration is very international,” he said. “We’re trying to develop an international test bed here...There’s a lot happening and there’s a lot of potential for Hawaii to be a key player in this."

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