COLUMN written by DamieN INSTRUCTOR Dr. hudson featured in Honolulu Star Advertiser

column as it appeared in Honolulu Star Advertiser

March 12, 2019

Column:  There are many reasons for launching satellites from Hawaii

Jacob Hudson

Posted March 12, 2019

Why not Hawaii?

Why not launch satellites into orbit from Hawaii?

For one thing, launching from Hawaii can save money.  

It requires a horizontal speed of 17,500 mph to get an object into a low-Earth orbit.  And this is at a paltry altitude of about 62 miles.  To achieve this, large amounts of energy are required, which translates into large sums of money.  As such, it is natural to look for ways to reduce the amount of energy and thereby costs.  Because of our unique location, and Hawaii island in particular, we can actually shave 985 mph off this value.  Why?  Because of the rotation of Earth on its axis.  It surprises many to know that they are traveling just shy of 1,000 mph when they are just sitting at their desks.  This rotational gift is why many orbital facilities are located near the equator, and Hawaii island is pretty close.  

Hawaii provides more flexibility

Because some parts of Hawaii island have almost 200 degrees of ocean-facing property, launch inclinations that would put a satellite in an equatorial orbit (east to west) as well as a polar orbit (north to south) are possible.  Many of the current launch facilities are limited and can only do one or the other, but very few can do both.  Hawaii island can.

The ocean serves as a buffer.

Since there is a high risk for spectacular failure whenever dealing with anything involving high energy, safety becomes a primary concern.  The ocean is a large safe zone by which a mishap can occur without endangering residences.  It is for this reason that many launch facilities are built besides the ocean.  Immediately after launch the ascending rocket is quickly over water and no longer an immediate hazard.

What about environmental impacts?

To answer this question we can look to the Wallops launch facility on the East Coast.  The launch facility is several miles from a tourist attraction, just south of a national park, next to a bird sanctuary and in wetlands and the nearby bird sanctuary.  Launches occur once or twice a month, usually lasting six to eight minutes, and bring in a large number of tourists just to see this. There has been zero impacts on the wetlands and the nearby bird sanctuary.

The only impact has been to the nearby fishing industry; it has to halt fishing in the launch and recovery areas for about an hour before launch.  But even this has been turned into an advantage:  It turns out that NASA pays a bounty for any recovered rocket.  

Wallops has to keep a large area of the ocean closed to fishing during launch because the rockets they launch are all suborbital and do require a splashdown area.  As planned, Hawaii would not need a splashdown site because we would be going to orbit.  

How would it benefit Hawaii?

Five aerospace companies have expressed interest in launching microsatellites from a local launch facility should Hawaii choose to build one.  Each of those companies would bring millions of dollars to the state economy.  Each has stated that it would rather hire local residents than import offshore crews.  And each has a past of proactive community engagement.  Wouldn’t it be nice for Hawaii to have a technical endeavor for the many graduating engineering students who so often have to find their futures away from home?

So, why not, Hawaii?

Jacob Hudson is a faculty instructor of physics, engineering and rocketry at Windward Community College.  He is also rocketry coordinator for the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium.  In addition, he teaches physics at Damien Memorial School.  


In addition to our monthly school liturgies, we will also begin having a weekly Wednesday morning Mass offered before school in St. Damien Chapel during Lent.

First Mass will be this Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 8:15 am and the following Wednesdays at 8:15 am during Lent. It's a great way to start the day! All students, parents, faculty, and staff are happily welcomed to attend.


Fat Tuesday Malasadas- Mahalo!

A BIG MAHALO to the close to 150 student, faculty, staff, parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, alumni and friends who volunteered at the 2019 Damien Memorial Fat Tuesday Malasada Sale! The event was a huge success raising over $7,000 towards campus improvements. We are so thankful for our ‘Ohana and wish you all a blessed Lenten season.

Check out some news coverage of Damien’s 10th Annual Fat Tuesday Malasadas

Hawaii News Now:



Fat Tuesday Malasada pick up will be on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in the main parking lot.

On Tuesday, March 5, please bring your malasada tickets to campus between 6:30 and 11 a.m. and follow signs in the parking lot to the designated pick-up zone. If you plan to purchase malasadas that morning (while supplies last), follow the designated signage for that pick-up area. We accept cash and credit cards (no checks) for payment.

2019 Malasada Lane Map (1).jpg

Early Release - Thursday, February 7, 2019


We are pleased to announce that Damien is an official host site for the 2019 DII Girl's Basketball State Tournament starting today through Friday. There are multiple games set for each day which start in the later afternoon - except for tomorrow, Thursday, February 7 with the first game starting at 3:30 p.m. 
So as to ease traffic in our parking lot for both those arriving and departing, we have decided to end school early by eliminating the last period of the school day. Therefore, school tomorrow (Thursday, February 7, 2019) will end at 1:20 p.m. and students will be able to be picked up at that time. We expect the teams and their entourage to start arriving between 2:00 - 2:30 p.m. and the early end of school will help to facilitate the transition from school to sports event.
We apologize for the late notice, however, we believe that this change is in the best interest for all involved. Mahalo for your cooperation.

Foodland's Shop for Higher Education


Foodland’s Shop for Higher Education is back for the 14th year and will run from February 6 to March 19, 2019.  Once again, we’ll award $2,000 scholarships to 100 Hawaii seniors.  In addition, we’re excited to announce that this year we’ll award $15,000 in Project Grad funds to schools earning the most points! Here’s how schools will be awarded:
Project Grad:

  • The top school earning the most points will receive $2,500.

  • The next 5 schools earning the most points will receive $1,500 each.

  • The next 10 schools earning the most points will receive $500 each. 

That’s $15,000 to the top sixteen schools for their Project Grad events! 

And remember, the more points your school earns, the more scholarships it receives!


  • The top 5 schools earning the most points receive (5) $2,000 scholarships each

  • The next 10 schools earning the most points receive (3) $2,000 scholarships each

  • The next 10 schools earning the most points receive (2) $2,000 scholarships each

  • The next 25 schools earning the most points receive (1) $2,000 scholarship each

This is a great opportunity to receive college scholarships and funds for Project Grad!  Shop at Foodland and use code 7511 for Damien Memorial School.  

Catholic Schools Week - Change in Schedule

Catholic Schools Week (CSW) is an annual national celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The events that we have planned for the week will allow our school to focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Church, local communities and our nation. This is a time for us to pause and come together as a community, connect with one another and celebrate the values that are at the core of our Damien Memorial School mission. 

In order for us to participate in the Catholic Schools week events that we have planned for, we will be moving to an A-Day schedule for the whole week of January 28- February 1.