On This Day In Space: Nov. 15, 1988: Green Bank’s 300-Foot telescope collapses (Image Credit: Space.com)
On Nov. 15, 1988, a 300-foot radio telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia suddenly collapsed. It happened at 9:46 p.m. on a clear night with no strong winds.
When the observatory staff showed up to work the next morning, they were greeted by a huge pile of wreckage.
The telescope collapsed under its own weight after a key structural element called a “gusset plate” failed. This was one of four connecting plates that held the telescope’s large, metal beams together. Investigators found that these gusset plates were not built to last the 26 years that this telescope had been in use.
Three years later, construction began on a new telescope. The Green Bank Telescope was even bigger and more sensitive, and it began science operations in 2001.
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