Building SOAR

August 1997: Project Initiated

The four SOAR partners (MSU, UNC, NOAO, and Brazil) met in East Lansing and committed to build and operate SOAR, at a total project cost (construction and operation) of $43M. MSU became a 14% partner.

March 1999: Major Contracts Let

Following hiring of a project team, development of a conceptual design, and a competitive bidding procedure, contractors were selected to provide the major subsystems (the mirror blanks, the active optical system, the mount including drives, the building, and the dome).

1997–1998: Site Prepared

SOAR's superb dark-sky site on Cerro Pachón, Chile was selected and leveled.

2000–2002: Enclosure Constructed

click for time-lapse movie of the dome's construction

October 2002: Mount Completed and Installed

All specifications for pointing and tracking had been met or exceeded.

November 2003: Optics System Completed

The optics system, consisting of the primary, secondary, and tertiary mirrors and their active and tip-tilt control systems, were thoroughly tested at the fabrication facility in Danbury, CT and sent to Cerro Pachón.

April 17, 2004: SOAR Dedication and First Light

2004–2005: Instruments

A full set of state-of-the-art optical and near-IR imagers and spectrographs were installed, with planning begun for second generation instruments.