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Over the past few months LCOGT has been making lots of progress with the 1-meter telescope prototype, the 1-meter enclosure prototype, the 0.4-meter telescope , and the 0.4-meter enclosure prototype, also know as "Aqawan".
A single-telescope version of the Aqawan in currently operating in the parking lot , although the production model currently in design will be a "Dual Aqawan", capable of enclosing two 0.4-meter telescopes. In a couple of months we'll move the single Aqawan to the corner of the parking lot where the huge blue dumpster currently is. The new Dual Aqawan will be prototyped at SBA in the second half of this year, and the first three production Dual Aqawans will be deployed to our site in Chile in the first quarter of 2010.
In the shop we have the beginnings of our 1-meter telescope mounts. One of these will be tweaked, cabled, and tested in the shop during the next 2 months, and within a couple of months after that the optical tube assembly (the actual telescope part) will be mated to the mount. One of the mounts currently has a temporary fixture of 2 smaller 20" telescopes mounted on it. This mimics the weight and "feel" of the real 1-meter telescope, allowing the engineers to test the mechanical properties of the mount before the actual telescope is ready. Our first set of finished optics for this telescopes will be arriving from LZOS (our Russian supplier) very soon, just in time to be installed in the first new telescope.
In parallel to the 1-meter telescope project, we are designing and building a domed enclosure to house the telescopes. The dome hemisphere itself will be an of-the-shelf product that we are purchasing, and identical to the one used at Sedgwick. The circular wall to support the dome is being custom designed and prototyped here at SBA by LCOGT. The beginnings of the prototype wall can be seen today rising out of the floor in the warehouse. The walls are all metal, and will be prefabbed & modularized into 6 transportable sections. These sections will already be equipped with electrical conduit and ventilation fans in the walls, and be pre-drilled for anchor bolts. The sections will be shipped in a container and reassembled on site, and then the dome will be assembled and craned onto the walls. This prefabbed modular design will remove decision making and variability from the international contractors, allowing us to obtain a consistently good product of known specs.
In the next couple of months the completed 1-meter enclosure prototype will be broken down into its 6 modules, removed from the warehouse, and reassembled on its new foundation in the parking lot. The dome will be assembled and placed on the enclosure walls.
This is the centralized IT building that will be placed at each site. Power, communications, and other computer control will be distributed from this building to all the domes, Aqawans, and miscellaneous outside equipment at each site. The shell of the SSB will be a used metal shipping container, 8' x 20'. The container will be modified and outfitted to our specs, including doors, HVAC, electrical, etc., at a commercial facility and then shipped to our SBA warehouse. Here we will add IT racks, servers, electrical distribution panels, etc., etc. When complete and tested, it will be shipped to site, probably near the end of 2009. The first one will arrive at SBA for outfitting around mid-October of this year. The image shows a typical example of one of these modified sea crates.
In parallel to all the above work, we are currently in the design process of laying out the Chile site in preparation for site construction, which will begin in mid-September (their spring season). Each site will need a daunting amount of infrastructure development, including earth work, concrete foundations for 3 observatories and 3 Dual Aqawans, trenching, and a mile (literally) of conduit for utility placements. Not to mention installation of 3 observatories, 3 Aqawans, and 9 telescopes!
In the next couple of months the first Site Services Building will arrive and be set up in the warehouse where the 1-meter enclosure prototype is currently. 6. The 1-meter telescope prototype will be installed into the new domed enclosure prototype in the parking lot. The goal is to be able to simulate an entire observatory system before we actually deploy anything to Chile.
Original text provided by John Martinez
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