SKA SA calls for design participants

8 April 2013

South African companies and institutions with the right expertise may be eligible for financial assistance on a shared cost, shared risk basis towards participating in the design phase of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, SKA South Africa announced last week.

The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which will be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia.

Last month, the International SKA Organisation issued an invitation for international consortia to bid for work packages in the pre-construction phase of the SKA, involving the design of the telescope architecture and sub-systems, including components such as antennas, receivers, signal processing systems, data transport and high performance computers.

The overall aim of this phase, which is expected to run through to the end of 2016, is to deliver detailed designs and blueprints for the SKA facility to go out to tender for construction.

Last week, Dr Jasper Horrell, general manager of science computing and innovation at SKA South Africa, said the SKA was “an iconic and global science project, and we are excited to be able to assist local industry and institutions with appropriate skills in participation in the initial design phase.

“This involvement should serve to strengthen the global competitiveness of local organisations in high-tech domains, focused on the SKA, but extending beyond radio astronomy,” Horrell said in a statement.

Expressions of interest are invited from registered South African organisations wishing to participate as partners in the SKA South Africa response to the request for proposal for the SKA pre-construction phase.

According to SKA South Africa, financial assistance for local companies and organisations is being targeted in the areas of dishes, central signal processors, science data processors, and signal and data transport, synchronisation and timing.

“SKA South Africa will facilitate the introduction of programme partners into the appropriate work package consortia.”

Instructions for registering interest, and pre-qualification application forms for financial assistance, are available from public.ska.ac.za/industry. Organisations must respond before 17h00 on 22 April (SAST).

For more information on the bid process, financial assistance and work package areas, organisations that fit the participation criteria are encouraged to attend an information day at SKA South Africa’s Johannesburg and Cape Town offices, linked via telecon, at 13h30 on 12 April.

Places at the information day may be limited; organisations wishing to attend should RSVP by e-mail to industry@ska.ac.za by 3pm on 9 April. More information can be obtained from Carla Sharpe at carla@ska.ac.za.

Details of the request for proposals issued by the International SKA Organisation are available at www.skatelescope.org/publications/request-for-proposals. Formal responses are due by 10 June.

SAinfo reporter