San Juan – Gerardo Morell, director of the Puerto Rico Nasa Space Grant – an organization that helps develop local scientific and technological workforce in areas of interest to NASA – estimated this Tuesday at 400 million dollars the reconstruction of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope.
Morell’s calculation comes a day after Gov. Wanda Vázquez allocated $ 8 million specifically to cover the removal and disposal of debris and the design of a new radio telescope.
“Precisely the 8 million are for design. It is a more accurate cost estimate that I can give you. But as a good physicist, the approximate calculations are that the number fluctuates in the 400 million dollars ”, Morell affirmed in an interview with the radio station Radio Isla 1320.
According to Morell, there have already been talks between the director of the Observatory and the incoming administration of the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, with the intention of rebuilding the radio telescope, which collapsed on December 1 after 57 years of operation.
“I know that there are conversations between the director of the Observatory and the incoming administration, which have not yet been finalized with details, but the intention is to meet in the near future,” Morell said.
Through an executive order, the governor also declared establishing the reconstruction of the observatory as public policy.
“The Government of Puerto Rico is convinced that the collapse of the radio telescope brings a great opportunity to redesign it, taking into account the lessons learned and the recommendations of the scientific community so that it is relevant for decades,” Vázquez said Monday.
In turn, he recalled that for 57 years, this “world-renowned facility functioned as a research facility with the capacity for scientific discoveries and contributions to national security, scientific research, education, as well as tourist attraction.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the owner of the Arecibo Observatory.
The governor of Puerto Rico insisted on her wish that this place continue to be of tourist interest – annually it was visited by more than 100,000 tourists and scientists.
The collapse on December 1 of the radio telescope, marked the end of an era in a part of scientific research and tourism on the island.
The radio telescope platform collapsed due to structural failures that had dragged on for months and that led the NSF to recently announce its decommissioning.
The structure weighed 900 tons and had a 1,000-foot-wide reflector plate.
The first of the failures occurred in August when one of the cables broke, a fact that worsened on November 6 when a second cracked, leaving it extremely weakened.