ESO Awards Contracts for E-ELT Primary Mirror Segment Support System Units

16 January 2015

ESO has signed parallel contracts with CESA (Spain) and VDL (the Netherlands) for the design and production of qualification models [1] for mirror segment support and related auxiliary equipment for the primary mirror of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This follows the earlier design and development of prototypes, their intensive testing at the ESO facility and a detailed assessment of lessons learned.

The complete E-ELT primary mirror will be 39 metres in diameter. The mirror surface will comprise 798 hexagonal segments, plus a maintenance set, for a total of 931 segments. The hexagonal shape means that a common support structure can be used for all segments. These contracts include the delivery of detailed and complete instructions and engineering drawings for the production of the series. They also include the development of the procedures required to integrate the supports with the E-ELT glass segments, to handle and transport the segment assemblies, and to operate and maintain them.

The contracts with CESA and VDL run for an initial period of 30 months. They will consist of preliminary and detailed design phases followed by the production of engineering models and testing. Four qualification models per contract will be delivered. At the end of the project, and before the competition for the series production starts, the qualification models will be integrated and tested at ESO’s dedicated test facility for E-ELT primary mirror segments.

E-ELT first light is planned for 2024, when it will begin to tackle the biggest astronomical challenges of our time. The giant telescope is expected to allow the exploration of completely unknown realms of the Universe — it will be: “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


[1] Qualification models are versions of the hardware that can be used to demonstrate that the design fully satisfies the requirements of the project.



Frédéric Derie
ESO, Garching bei München, Germany

Tel: +49 89 32006550

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany

Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

About the Announcement



E-ELT primary mirror prototype segment support systems
E-ELT primary mirror prototype segment support systems