HomeNative HawaiianLocals Are Saying “NO” to 7 New Telescopes on Haleakalā

Locals Are Saying “NO” to 7 New Telescopes on Haleakalā

The Department of the Air Force is receiving opposition from locals and Native Hawaiians after proposing to construct up to seven new telescopes and an optics lab on the summit of Haleakalā on Maui. 

The project is called the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site Small Telescope Advanced Research (AMOS STAR) facility. It would occupy almost an acre of land near the Haleakalā Observatory

A series of three public scoping meetings were held from May 13-15 giving community members an opportunity to voice their concerns and thoughts on this proposal.

Hawai’i News Now shared that the final meeting on Wednesday night in Kihei drew hundreds, with nearly everyone opposing these new telescopes on sacred land. 

During Tuesday night’s meeting in Pukalani a military official said “as more things are in orbit, more objects, there’s more potential for collision. With more objects in space, we need more telescopes to more frequently track the objects in space.” 

However, when it was time for the community and locals to speak their peace, they were strongly against this idea. 

“Tonight I want to reject your so-called alternatives that really leave no real alternative, and instead outright disrespect the principle of consent, said Kawaiolaakeali’i Kapuni, 21. “That is, when we say no, it means no. Not ask again, try another mauna, or altogether strip our bodies from voice and autonomy and build anyway. Inarguably, no means no.”

Others in the audience agreed.

“That mauna is my grandmother. That mauna is my family,” a man said.

“This project is not merely about stars and satellites,” “it is a continuation of settled colonial projects,” a woman said. 

History is repeating itself. When reflecting back to 2014-2019, we can remember the many activists, Native Hawaiians, and conservationists who protested the Thirty-Meter Telescope, or “TMT”, multiple times. 

These peaceful protests on Mauna Kea stalled developments on the project but 38 people ended up getting arrested which caused an uproar of anger and heartbreak from the community. 

Despite all of these objections about Haleakalā, U.S. military officials stress that these telescopes are a necessity for U.S. national security and space domain awareness. 

If you would like to provide your thoughts on the proposed telescopes being put on Haleakalā, you can visit the AMOS STAR Facility EIS Website, and complete a comment form.

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