In 1997, Apollo Mechanical was proud to be a part of the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory in Hanford Washington. Apollo was responsible for the fabrication and installation of the mechanical systems, as well as the installation of the LIGO tool infrastructure. Much of the highly sensitive tools components were built and installed by the LIGO scientists themselves.
Since the completion of the original project, Apollo has spent considerable time at the facility, working with the LIGO team on the upgrade from the original LIGO technology to the Advanced LIGO technology. Since the commissioning of the upgrade project, Apollo has participated in the installation, replacement, and refurbishing of the basic infrastructure that supports Advanced LIGO's most sensitive tools. Apollo Mechanical even had full time crews on site for the three year period of 2011-2014 helping scientists and the LIGO team on placing new infrastructure in the revised locations.
"CalTech and MIT worked on all of this and we are extremely happy for them, that all of their hard work has paid off." said Apollo's CEO Bruce Ratchford. Apollo's President, Bob Hightower, recalls "This was some of the most difficult work in the constructions business. Full clean room fabrication, guys in full body clean suits, very tough, and we are very proud to be a part of this historic project." Bob recalls Apollo's cross country trips to Boston to watch the construction of the special tools and mirrors. "All of our guys had thorough training on the LIGO systems, and the intricacy was highly specialized." Bruce Ratchford concluded that "This breakthrough for LIGO highlights the fact that the Tri Cities is a major hub of research and technology. We are a community that boomed with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and now we have amazing work being done by Battelle, LIGO, PNNL, and many more continuing to build a bright future for us."