The timeline below outlines the key milestones of the project status.
This information will be updated when a forward path to construction has been defined by TMT partners, taking into account the outcome of the on-going Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astro2020).
The nonprofit TMT Observatory Corporation was founded in June 2003 by its partners: the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the University of California (UC), and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The TMT project was born out of the merging of three earlier large-telescope projects: the California Extremely Large Telescope (CELT), which was a partnership between Caltech and UC; the Very Large Optical Telescope (VLOT), led by ACURA; and the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT), which was a partnership between the National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO) and the Gemini Observatory. AURA participated in TMT discussions at the early phase.
In April 2005, the TMT partners committed to create a project office. The TMT board also appointed a project manager and began the formal design and development of the observatory, the telescope, and its instruments.
In March 2009, TMT successfully completed its five-year Design Development Phase (DDP) with $77.1 million of funding provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. On April 1, 2009, TMT commenced its Early Construction Phase with the initial $30 million of a $200 million commitment by the Moore Foundation toward the further development and construction of the project. Matching gifts from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California bring the total to $300 million.
State of Hawaii Land Board Approves Comprehensive Management Plan for Maunakea
TMT Board of Directors Selects Maunakea as Preferred Site
TMT completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), after 14 community meetings, and it was signed by the Governor of Hawaii.
Maunakea Management Board Approves TMT Project -
University of Hawaii Board of Regents Approves TMT Project
Maunakea Management Board Approves Conservation District Use Permit Application -- State of Hawaii Land Board Accepts Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) Application
State of Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources issues CDUP (4/12)
The Hawaii State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) grants a permit to Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project to build and operate the next-generation observatory on Maunakea.
The Kahu Ku Mauna Council, made up of local Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents approve the University of Hawaii granting a sublease to TMT to build on Maunakea.
On May 6, 2014, the TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO) was formed with founding Members: The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), National Institutes of Natural Sciences (Japan), National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Science (China), Regents of the University of California (UC). The goal of TIO is to design, develop, build and operate the Thirty Meter Telescope. Also in May 2014, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) joined as Associates and continued to be active in the TMT Project with in-kind contributions. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) also joined as an Associate.
On October 7, 2014, a ground blessing ceremony for the TMT site was conducted.
The Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources issues a Notice to Proceed to the University of Hawaii to build TMT on Maunakea.
In May 2015, after imposing a temporary stand-down on TMT construction, Hawaii Governor David Ige releases a 10-point plan to help foster better stewardship of Maunakea. One part of the governor’s plan is to decommission older telescopes on the mountain to clear the way for newer telescopes like TMT.
A new contested case hearing on the proposed Conservation District Use Permit to build TMT on Maunakea begins in Hilo.
State Hearings Officer and former Judge Riki May Amano releases a 305-page report recommending that a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) be issued to the University of Hawaii by the Board of Land and Natural Resources to allow construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii.
The State Land Board announces its decision to approve the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) for TMT to be built on Maunakea.
The Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources issues a notice to proceed (NTP) to the University of Hawaii for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea. The NTP is a formal communication indicating that all pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures specifically required as a condition of the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) have been met. With the NTP, TMT can proceed with construction.
TMT, along with its partners in the US-Extremely Large Telescope Program, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and the National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) present their science and technical readiness to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020) panel.
Project Manager Fengchuan Liu relocates to Hilo, Hawaii.
The Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s (https://nap.nationalacademies.org/resource/26141/interactive), also known as the Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics or Astro2020, ranks the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) as the highest ground-based priority. TMT is one of three partners in the US-ELTP.
TMT staffs up project office in Hilo with the addition of two Hawaiʻi Community Outreach Specialists who are working in public outreach and education activities on Hawai‘i Island.