A groundbreaking event for the $1.4 billion telescope project headed by UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang was interrupted earlier this month by a group of protesters. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which will be one of the largest and most powerful on earth, will sit atop the dormant Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii, which is home to several massive telescopes. But some Hawaiian residents are apparently unhappy with the upcoming construction and hoisted signs and stopped attendees who were partaking in a blessing at the start of the event.
“The remainder of the ceremony was interrupted by protestors,” TMT spokesperson Sandra Dawson said in a statement. “We concluded the ceremony early as we were unable to continue with speeches by distinguished guests from Hawaii and around the world. The TMT project has initiated the construction phase and we are happy to be moving forward. Much work has been done on TMT around the world, on mirrors, instruments, and more. Our momentum is forward.”
The Thirty Meter Telescope is expected to be in full operation by 2022. Yang has been at the helm of the project since 2007 and plans for the telescope — a collaboration between the UC system and Caltech — have been in the works since 2000.