Science minister welcomes UK donation to SKA

Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom has welcomed a UK contribution of R1.7 billion to the Square Kilometre Array project.

“The significance… is in the impetus that this provides to implementation of Phase 1 of the SKA,” Hanekom said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is a most welcome commitment and reaffirms the global partnership of the SKA countries in this mega project.”

British Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts announced the allocation.

South Africa itself has made a contribution of close to R4 billion for the MeerKAT and the associated human capital development programmes.

South Africa is currently building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The MeerKAT, with a further 190 antennas to be built on the same site, will make up the first phase of the mid-frequency component of the SKA.

The second phase of the SKA will see further mid frequency antennas constructed across South Africa and in eight African SKA partner countries.

Complementary components of the SKA will be located in Australia, the co-host country of what will be the world’s largest radio telescope.

South Africa will launch its first MeerKAT antenna on 27 March 2014 and envisage completing the 64-dish array by 2016/17.

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Science minister welcomes UK donation to SKA