JODRELL Bank, the landmark of the Cheshire plain and symbol of British space science, may be closed down as an economy measure.
If it goes, then its linked satellite dishes at Darnhall and Pickmere - part of a network called Merlin - will be scrapped too.
Jodrell Bank was born out of radar experiments during the Second World War and and remains at the forefront of 21st century astronomy.
But it emerged this week that Jodrell Bank and the Merlin chain could be axed to save £2.7 million a year.
It was founded by Sir Bernard Lovell and he described the plans as “absurd and disastrous” especially after £8 million had recently been spent on the Merlin network.
“It is still one of the most important dishes in the world,” he said.
The radio telescope is a Grade 1 listed building, took five years to build, cost £260,000, revolves slowly and is nearly 300 feet high. It can be seen for miles in all directions.
Told to make economies the Science and Technology Funding Council drew up a list of priorities with Merlin and Jodrell Bank put in danger because it is well down the list.
The STFC said: “We are doing our best to find alternative funding.”
TV astronomer Sir Patrick Moore said: “It would be a devastating blow to astronomy.”