LHC Might Not Be Back Online Until 2010 or Later

When the LHC first went down, it was believed that repairs could get the system up and running by April 2009. Then we saw repairs pushing the timeline back to summer 2009. But now, CERN has arrived at a fork in the road regarding LHC repairs.

According to spokesperson James Gillies, the complicated repairs can be simplified into modest Plan A and Plan B approach.

Plan A is a quick and dirty fix, getting the particle accelerator online as quickly as possible (late summer 2009) at the cost of operating at lower power. In this scenario, 3 of 8 pressure relief-system segments are replaced (only the broken ones) with the other 5 getting upgraded at unsaid maintenance dates in the future.

Plan B is the more extensive but also more delayed approach, requiring the complete redesign and replacement of the LHC's entire pressure-relief system. Under this scenario, the LHC wouldn't go online until 2010 at the earliest, though at that time the system could operate at full power.

As of right now, the team is moving ahead with Plan A in the interest of getting data as soon as possible. Since we have absolutely no way of knowing which course of action is best, we'll just support whatever the crazy physics geniuses decide. [DailyTech]