U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific News

Phase 1 excavation complete at Haleakalā

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  • U.S. Space Force

The phase one excavation at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex was completed March 22, 2023. Workers removed approximately 43 sacks of soil estimated at 84,000 pounds, replacing it with soil gathered at a nearby site. The soil removed is being safely stored at the summit of Haleakalā until a remediation plan is approved in phase three. Excavation averaged to about three feet depth of previously disturbed soil, due to slope and safety limitations.

With the completion of phase one, a contract for phase two is slated for award by the end of March. Once awarded, a work plan will be developed, then approved by the Hawaii Department of Health. Phase two involves taking core samples at a depth of 40, 80 and 200 feet, to determine scope of contamination. Work may start in May. Laboratory results from that sampling will guide the phase three remediation plan; the phase two report should be available by August.

A diverse team of engineers, led by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, is leading the recovery efforts in conjunction with native Hawaiian organizations and various governmental agencies.

“We are working seven days a week, weather permitting, in order to safely and respectfully restore this sensitive site,” said Col. Marc Brock, Space Delta 2 commander. “We recognize the significance of Haleakalā, and we have a special obligation to care for it.”

Work is also underway to possibly replace the generator with a smaller, more efficient one, minimizing fuel storage requirements. Part of that discussion is exploring the addition of a tertiary containment system to prevent a future mishap.

The Maui-based 15th Space Surveillance Squadron, which operates the MSSC, is part of Space Delta 2, the U.S. Space Force entity responsible for space domain awareness around the globe. At more than 10,000 feet elevation, the location atop Haleakalā provides some of the best astronomical viewing conditions on Earth.