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Home - News - 2016 - End of the year message from the Managing Directors

News, 19 December 2016

End of the year message from the Managing Directors

Massimo Altarelli and Claudia Burger look back at the past year and forward to the challenges ahead of us.

Dear colleagues, collaborators, and friends of the European XFEL,

As 2016 is approaching its end, we would like to thank you for your contribution to the progress, support of, and interest in the project in the past year and to wish you all the best for 2017.

The year witnessed decisive progress in our project, as the construction efforts for significant parts of it are essentially concluded.

The installation of the linear accelerator is finished and the cool-down to -271 °C, the temperature of liquid helium, is under way at the time of this writing. Ninety-six accelerator modules assembled in France found their place in the long XTL tunnel. They will not only ensure the design energy of 17.5 GeV, but exceed it comfortably. The progress made in the assembly, testing, and installation of the modules by the Accelerator Consortium has been spectacular over the last years and is a great success. The completion of the installation of the linear accelerator and the start of commissioning were the occasion for a celebration event in October, attended by representatives of our shareholders and the respective governments.

A milestone with high symbolic value was reached in mid-June, when the European XFEL GmbH moved its headquarters from Albert-Einstein-Ring in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld to the campus in Schenefeld, directly above the experiment hall. The Schenefeld campus provides space sufficient for the further development of the facility, for ancillary laboratory and technical buildings, and to provide our staff and our users with necessary service facilities, such as a cafeteria and a guesthouse.

In the photon tunnels and in the experiment hall work is progressing to prepare for the first beam and the first users on the two instruments, FXE and SPB/SFX, fed by the SASE1 undulator, which has been in place for several months. The beam transport optics and the diagnostics are almost complete; in the hall, the hutches, the laser rooms and the control areas are built, and the commissioning of the complex infrastructure is in progress. The FXE instrument installation and cabling are in an advanced stage, and SPB/SFX is ready to follow. According to the present estimations, the first X-ray laser beam from SASE1 could emerge in late spring 2017, and early user experiments should then follow by the end of the summer.

The SASE3 undulator, installed and ready for beam in early 2017, will feed two more instruments. The construction of their hutches is also progressing, although their technical infrastructure is installed more slowly than expected by the external providers. Finally, good progress is seen on the construction of the SASE2 instrument hutches HED und MID, which are expected to start user operation last.

2017 will be a year of significant changes, with the transition from construction and commissioning to the operation phase. Preparations for this important step have been ongoing for the past years. The transition and the new phase will be led by the new Chair of the Management Board, Robert K. Feidenhans’l, who will take office on 1 January 2017. We are looking forward to the first call for proposals for experiments on the SASE1 instruments FXE and SPB/SFX and all subsequent steps towards full operation and establishment of the European XFEL as a world-class facility.

We are very confident that our European XFEL team as well as the DESY colleagues and Accelerator Consortium members, who all together brought the project to the present state, will be able to master the challenges of this transition to a new phase, with the continuing support of our shareholders and of the members of the advisory committees. We would like to thank everybody involved in the project heartily and wish you and your families a happy holiday season and a good start into the New Year!

Massimo Altarelli Claudia Burger