The developer of the Thirty Meter Telescope signed a 75-year agreement with officials in the Canary Islands Wednesday giving the international consortium the right to construct and operate the giant telescope on the island of La Palma if Mauna Kea doesn’t work out.
The hosting agreement between the TMT International Observatory and Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias clears a “major milestone” in securing the alternative site near the summit of La Palma’s highest mountain, according to a news release.
“This is an important step for TMT,” TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said. “We want to ensure we have by April 2018 a site suitable to start construction should Mauna Kea not be feasible. We now have a signed agreement and are moving ahead with the appropriate government approvals so that everything will be in place if needed.”
In addition to the April 2018 construction target date, TMT officials say they need “reasonably assured access” to Hawaii’s tallest mountain by the fall of this year.