The magnet failure last week at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) means that the accelerator will not be up and running again until early spring of 2009, say officials at CERN.

To keep the project on schedule, the team running the accelerator near Geneva have decided to skip a planned test run at an intermediate energy and re-start the LHC in 2009 at the full beam energy of 7 TeV.

We are not behind schedule for 7 TeV James Gillies, CERN

They are now warming up a sector of the beam line that failed on 19 September to determine exactly what happened when one tonne of liquid helium escaped from the accelerator’s cooling system after a magnet “quench”.

The warming is expected to take three to four weeks and CERN officials say that the subsequent investigation and repair processes will run into the scheduled winter shutdown of the experiment — which will begin at the end of November. As a result, the accelerator is not expected to be running again until March or April 2009.

The failure occurred as the accelerator’s two proton beams were being ramped up for a test run at 5 TeV. CERN had then planned to use the winter shutdown to make final adjustments to the superconducting magnets that guide the beam so that the accelerator could start-up again in the spring at the full energy of 7 TeV.

However, CERN has now decided to cancel the 5 TeV test run and re-start the accelerator at full power in the spring, according to CERN spokesperson James Gillies. “We are not behind schedule for 7 TeV”, he told

According to Gillies, many individual components of the accelerator (including the magnets) have already been “trained” to operate at 7 TeV and now it is a matter of getting these components to work in concert.