This came in some minutes ago:
The LHC will run for the first part of the 2009-2010 run at 3.5 TeV per beam, with the energy rising later in the run. That’s the conclusion that we’ve just arrived at in a meeting involving the experiments, the machine people and the CERN management. We’ve selected 3.5 TeV because it allows the LHC operators to gain experience of running the machine safely while opening up a new discovery region for the experiments.
The developments that have allowed us to get to this point are good progress in repairing the damage in sector 3-4 and the related consolidation work, and the conclusion of testing on the 10000 high-current electrical connections last week. With that milestone, every one of the connections has been tested and we now know exactly where we stand.
The latest tests looked at the resistance of the copper stabilizer that surrounds the superconducting cable and carries current away in case of a quench. Many copper splices showing anomalously high resistance have been repaired already, and the tests on the final two sectors revealed no more outliers. That means that no more repairs are necessary for safe running this year and next.
The procedure for the 2009 start-up will be to inject and capture beams in each direction, take collision data for a few shifts at the injection energy, and then commission the ramp to higher energy. The first high-energy data should be collected a few weeks after the first beam of 2009 is injected. The LHC will run at 3.5 TeV per beam until a significant data sample has been collected and the operations team has gained experience in running the machine. Thereafter, with the benefit of that experience, we’ll take the energy up towards 5 TeV per beam. At the end of 2010, we’ll run the LHC with lead-ions for the first time. After that, the LHC will shut down and we’ll get to work on moving the machine towards 7 TeV per beam.
Fingers crossed everyone 🙂