Video Shows Massive Radio Telescope Featured In James Bond Film Collapsing After Support Cable Failure

Screenshot/National Science Foundation

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A massive radio telescope in Puerto Rico that was featured in the James Bond film GoldenEye collapsed after support system failures, numerous sources reported.

The 900-ton instrument platform plunged roughly 450 feet into the Arecibo Observatory’s dish antenna, marking the end of its nearly 60 years of scientific research and discovery, CBS reported.

In a dramatic scene from the 1995 film GoldenEye, Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, scales the ladders of the observatory, which was one of the largest in the world. (RELATED: Sean Connery’s Original James Bond Gun To Be Auctioned For An Estimated $200,000)


The observatory was forced to close in August after a broken cable damaged the telescope’s 1,000-foot-long reflector dish, creating a 100-foot gash, CNN reported. The observatory was slated for demolition after the cable failures.

The National Science Foundation, which oversees the facility alongside the University of Central Florida, reported no injuries after the collapse, according to a press release

“We are saddened by this situation but thankful that no one was hurt,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in the statement.  

The collapse happened at around 7:55 local time, when the top section of all three of the telescope’s support towers broke off. As the instrument platform fell, the support cables also dropped, according to the statement. An investigation is ongoing, and preliminary assessment shows that the observatory’s learning center was heavily damaged from the collapse. 

Elizabeth Klonoff, UCF’s vice president for research, says in the statement that staff knew the collapse could happen.

“We knew this was a possibility, but it is still heartbreaking to see,” Klonoff said.

“Safety of personnel is our number one priority. We already have engineers on site to help assess the damage and determine the stability and safety of the remaining structure. We will continue to work with the NSF and other stakeholders to find ways to support the science mission at Arecibo.”

During the observatory’s decades of research, numerous discoveries were made in the field of radio astronomy, the BBC reported. It provided substantial evidence of a neutron star, and helped to identify the first example of a binary pulsar, an accomplishment that led to the Nobel Prize in Physics.