Pasadena-based Giant Magellan Telescope Completes Foundation for Massive Instrument Ahead of Schedule

Published : Friday, March 29, 2019 | 4:51 AM

[Updated]   Engineers working at the Giant Magellan Telescope project in Chile have completed excavations for the foundations of telescope’s massive pier and enclosure, two months ahead of the originally planned eight-month schedule, the Pasadena-based Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) announced.

The excavation was done without explosives and required a crew of 40 people at the peak of the effort. The Organization said the contractor, Conpax, found “the integrity of the rock that will support the telescope to be excellent.”

“The success of the excavation is a testament to our entire construction team. Its completion is a huge step forward for the project,” Dr. James Fanson, GMT Project Manager, said.

The announcement said GMT’s construction team is now moving onto the next phase of the project to upgrade the site utilities infrastructure which is expected to take about eight months to complete.

This phase involves trenching and installing conduit and piping to connect the summit facilities and support sites to a common water and electrical system.

Following the completion of the utilities infrastructure, the construction of a temporary concrete plant on the summit, and construction of the concrete foundations for the telescope pier, enclosure, and summit utility building will begin in 2020, according to the announcement.

Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Vice President of the GMT Organization, also announced that two of GMTO’s founders – the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) and the University of Arizona – have committed additional funding for the project.

KASI and its President, Dr. Hyung Mok Lee, have committed an additional $20 million, and the University of Arizona, headed by its President, Dr. Bobby Robbins, has an additional $10 million cash commitment and in-kind contribution for the casting of GMT’s sixth and seventh primary mirror segments, GMTO’s announcement said.

“The generous and sustained support of our Founders allows us to keep moving forward with the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope,” McCarthy said.

For an overview of the Giant Magellan Telescope project, visit

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