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Figure 4.

The Gemini South mirror being transported through the Puclaro Dam Tunnel which was enlarged from its original 8-meter width to 10 meters to accommodate the Gemini loads to Cerro Pachón.

Prior to Gemini South’s mirror transport through the widened tunnel to Cerro Pachón–and after a long journey on barges in France and deep within a huge ocean-going cargo ship (which, according to Larry Stepp, was probably 1,000 feet long)–it arrived in the middle of the night at the port of Coquimbo, Chile, and was greeted by a group of anxious VIPs and the logistics team. “They made the unusual courtesy of letting some of us come up onto the ship and look into the top portion of the hold where the mirror shipping container had been welded in place on top of a stack of containers,” Stepp recalled. After the crew hooked up the ship’s crane to the mirror crate, Stepp immediately headed back to watch the mirror’s arrival on the dock. Richard (Rick) McGonegal: With a background in Astrophysics, Rick McGonegal’s career has followed an interesting path that led him first

“When the crane operator got the go-ahead, he picked the mirror up, swung it over the side, dropped it down to the pavement, and stopped it about ten inches above the concrete,” he said. “He did all of that in about 15 seconds. And it flabbergasted those of us who expected the operation to take half an hour!”

to CFHT for about 10 years prior to coming to Gemini to lead the software group during the construction phase of Gemini. He spent from 1992 through 1998 at Gemini, followed by a period in Silicon Valley in the telecommunications industry (and Y2K work) prior to the dotcom bust. Since then he has been working for RCG Information

Meanwhile the VIP entourage was still looking into the emptied cargo hold while, Stepp said, “The mirror was set down on the concrete below. It scared me to death, because it was coming down at a good rate of speed and it only stopped at the last moment just before reaching the level of the concrete, and he set it down very gently.” Once the mirrors were safely delivered in both Hawai‘i and Chile, the concern for their safety wasn’t lessened. Jim Oschmann pointed out that during the delivery process many of the optical contractors

Technology, a U.S.-based Information

actually walked on the mirror’s surface. “I’ve never walked on

technology solutions services company

the mirror,” he said, chuckling. “Larry Stepp has walked on the

with an offshore office in Manila, the


Philippines, where he currently resides and serves as the company’s president and managing director.

At the time, Larry remembers worrying every time the mirrors were handled and joking that if anything happened, “…it would be at LEAST seven years of bad luck!”



Issue 38 - June 2009  


Issue 38 - June 2009