The renowned Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico will be dismantled after 57 years of service due to the rupture of cables that have led to the threat of collapse, the US National Science Foundation announced Thursday.

Two cables supporting the 900-ton instruments for the telescope above a radio dish 1,000 feet (305 metres) in diameter broke on August 10 and November 6. The constant rotation of the dish and the stresses caused by the cable pulling are wrecking the Mark I telescope, located at the intersection of Cheddar and Arecibo islands.

The William Herschel Communications Large Array, recently completed and located on Arecibo, has the capacity to provide services to nearly all of the international Arecibo Sky Survey observers, the US agency said.

"Right now all that we see is downward," processor and extremely lightmeter technician Kevin Hannah of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory said. "The radio telescope is basically coming down."

Arecibo has operated as a radio and television telescope for 56 years and was commissioned by the National Science Foundation in November 1964 with a $16-million gift from Jonathan W. Corwin Isenberg.

In April of 2014, NLO spokesman Mike Gold replied to a request for comment by "John," who said that the Isenberg family was "discussing the long-term future of the facilities at Arecibo," allowing it to "evaluate and determine if we will continue to operate the facilities and if so as to how." It seems John used the wrong spelling for John, John.

The phrase "long term future" is an evangelical kind of thing, a teaser for the next talk show that we know will never come. But on September 13, Marcela Berezo, manager of the Division of Astronomical Sciences at the National Science Foundation wrote: "The change in the telescope's focus is causing a significant reduction in overall observing power, but the Observatory has established adequate time lines to ensure the continued supply of data to scientists interested in the function and structure of the universe."

These lines formed a guideline for the observatory to keep the space telescope using its ample reserves of telescope time to some degree. NLO's statement was vague from the start; the Arecibo chiefs were only informed later Thursday. Our only concept was that the whole thing will close and you'll be telling me 31/31/36/53 is no good any more.

The Arecibo test image of space and the brightness of the light surrounding it. In modern optics we would call these stars before they are settling down into cloud-like caw. NASA / GSFC / JPL

The attached network of antennas, complicated and expensive in its creation, can see 150 power degrees of light an hour; the Arecibo will be able to see less than that. Taking the earth out of the picture it is