« AnteriorContinuar »
ation is that the academy be organized immediately. The initial level of funding would necessarily be modest.
South Point, Hawaii, Figure 6.3.1, is proposed as a suitable assembly and launch site. The latitude of the extreme tip is 18° 54′ 48′′. It is 67 direct-line miles from Hilo, 54 from Kailua, and 40 from the crater of Mauna Loa. It is a little less than 2400 miles from the coast of California. Hilo is 216 miles from Honolulu.
The trade winds blow steadily at 12-15 knots from east-northeast about 350 days of the year, crossing only a few miles of land surface before reaching the launch site. Occasionally, mainly during February, the winds shift to the Southwest for several days at a time, again approaching the launch site from over the water. Severe storms. are extremely rare, at irregular intervals measured in decades. A 90-knot wind felled numerous big trees on the slope of Mauna Loa about 1951. Annual rainfall at South Point varies between 3 and 20 inches. Ten miles north it is 40 inches, and 20 miles north 60. Clouds form over the land area almost every day, mainly below 8000 to 10000 feet elevation. Nearby Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea extend abovǝ the clouds most of the time. The temperature at South Point rarely strays outside 67-77°F., day or night, summer or winter. The jet stream seldom moves as far south as South Point. The records have not been kept long enough to say never.
Until recently, the reporting of weather in Hawaii has been sketchy, and, even now, the reporting of weather over the ocean itself is spasmodic, depending on ships, airplanes, etc. However, a pattern can be discerned. Occasionally a storm center develops over the ocean, sometimes between Hawaii and the mainland, and sometimes west of Hawaii. At such times, Hawaii experiences heavy rains, and strong winds. These can come from the East or the West, depending on the location of the storm centers. Most of the time the storm centers move between Hawaii and the equator, missing the islands altogether, and generally going unreported. It appears that the islands are located in the most favored part of the entire Pacific Ocean, being neither too far north nor too far south, nor too far east nor too far west. However, the weather is not perfect.
The geological structure of the area is important in predicting lava flows, planning construction, and finding underground water. The entire island is made up of many layers of vesicular, basaltic lava. The surrounding ocean is four miles deep. From time to time, in the geological time scale, structurally weak lava accumulations at the edge of the island break off along almost vertical faults paralleling the coastline, forming underwater talus piles around the island. Subsequent lava flows pour over the cliffs, or "palis", to form layered piedmonts resting on the talus at the bases of the cliffs. The cliffs may be from zero to more than 1000 feet tall, and the piedmont shelves may be from zero to several miles wide. Individual cliffs may be from less than a mile to many miles long. There may be stairstep sequences of two or three cliffs having a combined height greater than 2500 feet. In some cases the cliffs stand in the ocean. Much of the entire island is surrounded by cliffs.
South Point lies on a radial fracture of the Mauna Loa volcano, so that it has been grouted by magma intrusions. These have strengthened the rock structure, and prevented the South Point area from down-faulting with adjacent areas. The north-south fault at South Point has resulted from this fact, since the rock to the West has dropped down, leaving the South Point area standing 500 feet above the area at the base of the cliff: The cliff is 500 feet tall, and runs many miles inland, toward the North. Although the radial fracture zone on Mauna Loa is especially prone to have lava flows, these have in the past few thousand years run along the foot of the cliff, or have followed the slope in a southeasterly direction. The South Point area itself is covered with soil from the weathering of lava thousands of years old. It is very unlikely that the area will be subjected to a lava flow for thousands of years to come, if Also, owing to the over-water path of both the trade and kona winds, there is only the remotest prospect that fumes, dust, and glass fibers will be blown across the area from nearby lava eruption, although there is the strong possibility that roads to Hilo and Kailua will be overrun from time to time. There will be earthquakes
in the future, some of them strong.
The frequency of these is not presently known, but it is the writer's guess that the risk of a strong earthquake during the next three decades is less than it is in Los Angeles. Likewise, his guess is that the risk of severe damage from earthquakes at South Point is less than the risk of severe damage from hurricanes in Florida, or from tornados in the Midwest.
Although the annual rainfall on the eastern slope of Mauna Loa exceeds 200 inches in some regions, and is generally great, almost all of it soaks into the porous lava soil, and does not reappear in surface springs or streams. It must, therefore, form a subsurface water table, which must extend under the ocean, to form submarine springs. Studies show that several million gallons per day could be pumped from the water table near sea level on the eastern side of the South Point peninsula. Recent experiments with airborne infra-red scanners reveal the underground water by its cooling effect on the surface rocks and soil.
There is almost no population within 10 miles of South Point. Naalehu and Waiohinu, 12 miles away, have a population of about 1000, together. There are large herds of fine Hereford cattle grazing on the lush pasture land within a few miles of the point, mainly owned by a single company leasing the land. At and beyond the villages just mentioned is some of the most beautiful and pleasant territory for homes to be found anywhere. However, there is very little population outside these villages within a radius of 35 miles. Sixteen miles from South Point, beyond Naalehu, is a sugar mill, and there are sugar plantations.
The launch structures would be located along the base of the 500-ft. cliff. Newly assembled rockets and nose cones would be transported on a ground effect machine from the assembly plant near Naalehu. All rockets would be returned from all practice and operational flights to the launch structures by means of retrothrust from vertical launches. The cliff would provide access to the nose cones on the rockets, and would facilitate replacement of expended nose cones. The vendor-owned propellant factory would be located