19 March 2013
South African scientists, engineers, companies and institutions stand to benefit from the invitation for international consortia to bid for early-stage work on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which will be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia.
Last week, 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.
SKA South Africa said in a statement on Friday that it was positioned to play a “prominent role” in responding to this request, both because of the expertise contained in the SKA South Africa project team, and because of the involvement of South African industry in the development and delivery of the SKA prototype MeerKAT telescope.
“The MeerKAT engineering team and local industries have been in discussions with their international peers to form consortia that will respond to the request for proposals.”
SKA South Africa held an information session for local industry in February, and was now in the process of finalising a subsidy programme aimed at helping local companies and institutions to take part in the SKA pre-construction phase “on a shared risk basis, in order to develop the expertise, competency and know-how to be internationally competitive in bidding for SKA contracts when the telescope is built”.
Potential industry and institutional participants were encouraged to keep a check on www.ska.ac.za for information on the requests for proposals and related information.