Installing the world's largest telescope on top of an inactive volcano in the Mexican state of Puebla required some heavy duty crane work. Crane rental company ESEASA provided a Manitowoc Model 18000 for the completion of the “short millimeter wavelength” radio telescope, known as the LMT.
The 827 ton capacity Model 18000 was used for a range of tasks, including the installation and positioning of the telescope's antenna and satellite dish. Reynaldo Santos at ESEASA said the crane performed admirably. “Because of strong winds and the sensitivity of the telescope's equipment, we opted to make the lifts with one of Manitowoc's largest-capacity crawler cranes for greater control and precise positioning,” said Santos.
ESEASA configured the Model 18000 with a capacity-enhancing Max-er attachment. The machine was rigged with main boom of 240 feet. The first task, lifting the 164 foot high antenna, was among the most difficult lifts in the construction of the radio telescope, because it meant lifting a structural component weighing more than 530 tons at a height of 108 feet and placing it over the LMT's steel support. Another difficult project was to lift and install the telescope's satellite dish, which weighed around 551 tons and had an awkward diameter of 164 feet.
The telescope sits at an altitude of 15,091 feet on top of the Sierra Negra volcano, about two hours outside Mexico City. The LMT is a US-Mexico partnership, a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Optica y Electrónica (INAOE). Mexican president, Vicente Fox has described the LMT as “the most important science project in Mexican history”.
ESEASA has been in business for 17 years and has 2,000 employees based in three offices, including Mexico City and Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Brownsville, TX. The company owns a fleet of more than 150 cranes.