TMT protesters abandon camp due to Wuhan virus fears

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The protesters who have been blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii have abandoned their camp due to fears of COVID-19.

Though this gives the consortium an opportunity to begin construction, don’t expect it. Based on info I’ve gotten from within the astronomy community (most of which is liberal and thus very focused on identity politics), the consortium that wants to build TMT is torn over these protests, with many astronomers sympathetic to the protesters’ false claims of bigotry and religious oppression.

TMT will not be built in Hawaii. Whether it is built at all remains an open question.


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  • Milt

    The probable cancellation of the TMT project, like the just announced bankruptcy of One Web, does not augur well for the future of Big Science / high technology projects. Indeed, we may be looking at the closing of a sort of Overton window of allowable discourse in which there was both the vision and the financing to sustain such projects. Now, with the looming uncertainty surrounding the Corona Virus debacle, it is hard to imagine what, exactly, might come out of all this.

    One the one hand, as others have observed, what happens with respect to the CV’s impact on our economy may finally force some hard thinking about pulling the plug on the SLS boondoggle — even for the slow learners in Congress — but it may hit the private sector just as hard. In Boeing’s case, this may be a *good* thing, and absent an unlimited government bail-out, they may have a come to Jesus moment and be forced to start building quality / affordable hardware again, albeit on a reduced scale.

    My fear, however, is that even SpaceX, the Crown Jewel in America’s space technology sector, may get hit so hard that it cannot go on, and then what are we left with? More to the point, without a viable SpaceX — or something like it — we simply do not have a viable manned American space program. The question is, with an economy in shambles, what will have to be done, should anybody want to, to keep SpaceX afloat. Or, has the window on doable / affordable manned space exploration already begun to close, perhaps never to reopen?

    Something else to ponder (the author warns that he is wearing his tinfoil hat), I would submit that the very future of capitalism may be tied to the kind of off-world economic development that most of the readers of this site look forward to, and — for this very reason — The Powers That Be among the woke elites DO NOT WANT SUCH DEVELOPMENT TO HAPPEN. If SpaceX and manned space exploration can be shut down, this would be an enormous victory for the statists with their finite, self serving view of what is either possible or desirable. In this sense, the CV outbreak and its economic aftermath offers a wonderful opportunity to keep the spirit of American free enterprise OUT of space, and I suspect that they will not let this opportunity go to waste.

    But what is a rational response to this, and how can SpaceX be kept going as a viable enterprise if “the market” won’t support it? Do we simply give up the dream of human beings living and working in space, leaving it — if it happens at all —
    to the Chinese?

  • Ian C.


    The economy isn’t in shambles (modulo the fiscal disarray and whatever consequences this will have). This isn’t a war with damages to the industrial base. Once businesses go back towards normal, we might even see a nice boom. The market for SpaceX’ services continues: comm/EO/nav sats, Starlink, NASA launches, diverse rideshare payloads, space tourism in the (near) future. Why should that suddenly drop?
    And do the woke elites really dislike SpaceX? Or is this more the establishment-affiliated “classic space” that sees a dangerous competitor and wants to keep it small?
    I’m quite optimistic here.

  • Dick Eagleson


    It didn’t start with TMT. The U.S. has seen a number of Big Science projects cancelled over the last three decades. The main novelty of TMT is that the leftist Luddites involved are relying mainly on tribalism rather than environmentalism as the hook on which to hang their protests. Usually it’s some endangered species that provides the pretext.

    As for these being potential End Times for capitalism, liberty, truth, justice and The American Way, I think such notions lack historical context. Covid-19 isn’t even in the Top Ten challenges faced and defeated by the United States in its nearly 2.5 centuries of existence. Number 1 on that list – with a .58 caliber mini-ball bullet – is the American Civil War. A bit of perspective is in order here.

    It’s not going to take eons to recover from this most recent medical and economic insult any more than it did to recover from Obama’s 8-year-long Great Depression 2.0 once its author had exited the White House. The same will prove true once the Covid-19 pandemic recedes to the status of manageable nuisance. The U.S. economy wants to boom. It only fails to do so when deliberately restrained. That proved true post-Carter, post-Obama and will prove true once again post-Chinese Pox.

  • A. Nonymous

    Somebody needs to start working on the preliminary engineering for a 8m space telescope with a Starlink antenna for high-bandwidth communications.

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