NORTH-EAST businesses have the chance to reach for the stars when it comes to building the world’s largest ground-based telescope.
Scores of businesses have signed up to the sell-out event at Durham County Council’s NETPark (North-EastTechnologyPark) on Thursday.
Experts will be on-hand to outline potential contract opportunities to supply the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
The telescope is an 11-year construction project proposed to be designed and manufactured in Europe and built in Chile.
It will enable astronomers to probe and understand a whole range of phenomena, from Earth-like planets around nearby stars to the origin and development of the most distant galaxies at the edge of the observable universe.
E-ELT will be the biggest optical and infrared telescope in the world – the size of five classicLondonbuses. The main mirror, nearly 40-metres wide and made up of 800 individual segments, will have a field of view one third the width of the full moon.
Stewart Watkins, managing director of Business Durham, said: “One of the key aims of the project is to ensure thatUKindustry wins contracts for construction, including the dome and other systems and instruments. It is a real opportunity for businesses here inCountyDurhamto be a part of it all. Experts will be available to showcase just what is on offer and how they can be involved.
“Already, some £10m worth of contracts have been awarded in this country and new contracts are expected to be worth hundreds of millions.”
The session has been organised by Business Durham, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and UK Trade and Investment.
TheNorth-EastTechnologyPark, where world-class science and technology companies come together, recently held a Spacetech event, looking at other business opportunities in the space industry.
BryanLittle, from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, said: “The project development is currently in final stages of preparation for the release of some major packages of work.
These include the main structure, the dome and opticsrelated support and control mechanisms.
“There is a chance forCountyDurhambusinesses to be involved in the supply chain.”