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Puerto Rican government commits $8 million to rebuild Arecibo

The government of Puerto Rico earlier this week announced that it has allocated $8 million to rebuild the Arecibo Observatory.

Via an executive order, Gov. Wanda Vazquez made reconstruction of the observatory public policy. In a ceremony at La Fortaleza, the seat of the island’s government, Vazquez said that the Puerto Rican government believes that the telescope’s collapse provides a great opportunity to redesign it, taking into account the lessons learned and recommendations from the scientific community so that it remains relevant for decades to come.

…Vazquez said that she and her administration want the scope to once again become a world class center and the $8 million being allocated for reconstruction includes funds to repair the environmental damage caused by the collapse, something that has already begun under the supervision of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

We shall see what happens. $8 million is not really enough to rebuild Arecibo. And the NSF has been trying to unload it from its budgetary responsibility for almost a decade. I would be shocked if that agency now suddenly decided to fund its reconstruction.

Only if Congress gets involved will this likely change, and that wouldn’t surprise me, considering how nonchalant our present Congress is about spending money that doesn’t exist.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • David K

    Robert, do you think that we should even bother with ground based telescopes anymore or just do space based with the falling cost of launch (except for amateur astronomy)? And if the latter, should we do big ones like James web or a constellation of small ones around the size of starlink satellites?

  • Joe

    David K. – The idea of moving telescopes off Earth is a wonderful concept but that is just not possible in the near future. We lack the technology for building telescopes in space – see James Webb, Hubble, etc. For that reason we need to really consider rebuilding Arecibo. It had capabilities that can’t be replicated by any other telescope. We really should invest in getting those capabilities back.

  • Richard M


    The idea of moving telescopes off Earth is a wonderful concept but that is just not possible in the near future. We lack the technology for building telescopes in space

    Granted that current space telescopes under development do not leave a lot of room for encouragement on the cost reduction front, but at least as far as radio telescopes are concerned . . . NIAC’s idea of a Lunar Crater Radio Telescope strikes me as something that is actually affordable and feasible in the near term (2030’s), if we are in fact able to establish a Lunar South Pole base of some kind.

  • Gary

    Maybe the Biden administration will extend the hand of friendship and Hunter could act as go between. This location would be an ideal spot to rebuild the telescope with Chinese money and expertise.

  • Jay

    I have been reluctant to write this because it can easily go off the rails into other topics. I was there three months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit, doing work on the electrical grid. I continued for two years doing more electrical projects and I learned a lot about Puerto Rico. I did not know that Puerto Rico had $8 million to spare.
    I can honestly say that they need to take that money and put it into their roads. The roads there are atrocious, and that was not caused by the hurricanes! Talking with the locals, there is a lot of corruption and nepotism in the government. I do not think that one nickel will make it to Arecibo.

  • wayne

    ….as long as the Big Guy gets his 10%, I’m sure he’ll greenlight the “project.”

    Personally, I want to hear more about PR’s electrical grid and roads.

  • Jay

    I could write a paper on their electrical grid. If I wanted to get my Master’s degree, I could write a thesis on how to make it better. All of the generation of power on the island is produced in the southern part, where most of the industries are. They burn oil for their power. Most of the population lives in the northern and eastern parts of the island.
    There was some photovoltaics, solar, but it got ripped apart by hurricanes. I saw it all heaped into a pile. I asked where these panels would be taken, and I was told it would be taken to the dump. One thing they never factor into these renewables is the cost of demolition/disposal, which is factored into any gas/coal/hydro/nuclear construction costs.
    Like I said, power is generated in the south and the power is brought up through the center of the island by two transmission lines. The center of the island is very mountainous and there is an active volcano on the island. When hurricanes Irma and Maria came in, it knocked everything down. When I arrived after, some of the lines were restored, but there were daily brown-outs and power outages.
    If I was to redesign the power grid of the island, I would go with a ring-bus design to make sure that power could be delivered from different routes and damaged areas of the island could be isolated and do not shut down the whole island.

    On to the roads. There is a local joke on the island: if a car is weaving back and forth on the road, the driver is sober, if a car is going straight on a road, the driver is drunk. The road are in pretty bad shape no matter where you go in the island. Lots of potholes and sections that are crumbling. If I was to open a business in Puerto Rico, it would be a tire shop!
    Probably no budget for fixing or maintaining roads.

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