CERN confirmed recently that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will restart in 2009, the news coming as part of an updated report on the status of the LHC, following its malfunction in September (2008).

The initial malfunction was caused by a faulty electrical connection between two of the accelerator’s magnets, which resulted in mechanical damage and a release of helium from the magnet cold mass into the tunnel.

Proper safety procedures were in force, the safety systems performed as expected, and no one was put at risk, the report notes.

Detailed studies of the malfunction have allowed the LHC’s engineers to identify means of preventing a similar incident from reoccurring in the future, and to design new protection systems for the machine. A total of 53 magnet units have to be removed from the tunnel for cleaning or repair, of which, 28 have already been brought to the surface and the first two replacement units installed.

“The top priority for CERN today is to provide collision data for the experiments as soon as reasonably possible,” explained CERN Director General Robert Aymar. “This will be in the summer of 2009.”

The current schedule foresees the final magnet being reinstalled by the end of March 2009, with the LHC being cold and ready for powering tests by the end of June 2009.

LHC Project Leader Lyn Evans commented, “We have a lot of work to do over the coming months, but we now have the roadmap, the time and the competence necessary to be ready for physics by summer. We are currently in a scheduled annual shutdown until May, so we’re hopeful that not too much time will be lost.”