In Hawaii, Maui council opposes US Space Force plan to build new telescopes on Haleakala volcano

Jun 5, 2024, 8:18 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — Local officials on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Wednesday voted to oppose a U.S. military proposal to build new telescopes on the summit of Haleakala volcano, the latest observatory project to meet objection in the islands.

The U.S. Space Force and Air Force want to build a new facility on the top of Haleakala, Maui’s highest peak, to track objects in space.

The Maui County Council voted 9-0 to pass a resolution opposing the project. The measure said Haleakala’s summit was a sacred place used for religious ceremony, prayer and connecting to ancestors.

“Haleakala is more than just a mountain; the summit is considered wao akua, or ‘realm of the gods,’ and continues to be a place of deep spirituality for Native Hawaiians to engage in some of these traditional practices,” the resolution said.

It said that the Space Force hasn’t finished cleaning up a 700-gallon (2,650-liter) diesel fuel spill at the site of one its existing Haleakala telescopes. The spill occurred last year when a pump that supplies fuel to a backup generator failed to shut off during a lightning storm.

The proposed new facility is called AMOS STAR, which is an acronym for Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site Small Telescope Advanced Research. It would feature six telescopes enclosed in ground-mounted domes and one rooftop-mounted domed telescope.

The county’s resolution urged the military to heed community calls to cease their development efforts. It urged the National Park Service, Federal Aviation Administration and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to deny the project permits.

The clear skies and dry air at Haleakala’s peak make for some of the world’s best conditions for viewing space, similar to the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island which hosts about a dozen telescopes.

Haleakala rises to 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) It already hosts multiple University of Hawaii observatories and an existing collection of Space Force telescopes called the Maui Space Surveillance Complex. Protesters tried to block the construction of a new observatory on Haleakala in 2017 but building went ahead and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope released its first images in 2020.

A proposal by a consortium of universities to build a new observatory on Mauna Kea called the Thirty Meter Telescope triggered massive protests in 2019. The TMT project is currently paused while planners seek National Science Foundation funding.

National News

Associated Press

After rare flash flood emergency, Florida prepares for more heavy rainfall in coming days

A tropical disturbance has brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida as residents prepared to weather more heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday’s downpours and subsequent flooding blocked roads, floated vehicles and delayed the Florida Panthers on their way to Stanley Cup games in Canada against the Edmonton Oilers. The […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sold firearms to undercover FBI agent for mass shooting, indictment says

PHOENIX (AP) — A firearms dealer in Arizona sold weapons to an undercover federal agent he believed would help him carry out his plan for a mass shooting targeting minorities, an attack that he hoped would “incite a race war,” according to a federal grand jury indictment. Mark Adams Prieto was indicted Tuesday by the […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

10 hours ago

In Hawaii, Maui council opposes US Space Force plan to build new telescopes on Haleakala volcano