Maui News

Hawai‘i Congressman Kahele Visits Space Force Members at Maui Research Site

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By Santana Ortiz / Air Force Research Laboratory, Directed Energy & Space Vehicles Directorate

Representative Kaialii Kahele visits the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Maui Research & Technology Park to learn more about the missions being performed on the island by the US Air Force and Space Force. (From left) Capt. Tara Crouch, Lt. Col. J. Chris Zingarelli, Richard Chong, Congressman Kaiali’I Kahele, Capt. Zachary Funke, Capt. Samuel Crouch and Maj. Devin Leong. (AF courtesy photo)

US Congressman Kai Kahele and his Deputy Chief of Staff Ikaika Māhoe, took part in a visit to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Maui Research and Technology Park on March 19. Their intention was to meet the island’s first US Space Force officers and learn more about the national defense missions carried out at Haleakalā Summit. 

Their briefing was hosted at the base of Haleakalā, in the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing headquarters, and presenters included Lt. Col. J. Chris Zingarelli, commander of Detachment 15, Dick Chong, principal liaison between the Maui site and the directorate’s Satellite Assessment Center and several of the new Space Force Guardians. 

The presentation contained detailed information on the space missions at the Maui Space Surveillance System atop Haleakalā, and the supercomputing facility below.


“The system in Maui is the most versatile ground-based electro-optical system in the world, and expands the nation’s ability to understand capability and intent of objects in space,” said Zingarelli.

The congressman, a decorated Air Force pilot, who continues to serve in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard learned more about two missions being conducted at the Maui site and how they work together, as well as how the Air Force Research Lab is supporting both the air and space forces at the Maui facilities. 

“There are two distinct missions, the mission on the mountain and this mission here down below where the Maui High Performance Computing Center is located — they are similar and work together,” Kahele said. “Their importance to our national security cannot be overstated.”


“Any time we can share our important mission with elected officials or community members, it’s a win,” said Zingarelli. “We are so proud of our new Space Force officers, and what they are doing to advance our knowledge of space, and the various challenges in that domain.”

Kahele called the visit informative, saying, “It was especially enlightening as it relates to standing up the United States Space Force and how those changes are taking place.”

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