SKA Organisation hopes to have hosting deals in place soon
THE international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation is targeting the start of next year to develop the hosting agreements for South Africa and Australia, Philip Diamond, new director-general of the organisation, said on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the two countries would share the mammoth R23bn radio telescope, and that it would include their precursor telescopes, MeerKAT, in South Africa, and Askap.
"All the things discussed in the site bid have to be put down in hosting agreements — legal documents that will be agreements between the SKA Organisation and Australia and South Africa," Prof Diamond said.
The agreements will specify "what (each country) will contribute towards the infrastructure of the SKA … land, tax, employment".
This forms part of the groundwork to be laid during the pre-construction phase.
"My role will be to lead the organisation through the pre-construction phase — get the details, design and cost of phase one and prepare for construction," Prof Diamond said. "We’re entering the hard-grind part of the project where we have to get down to the details and understand what we’re going to build."
Prof Diamond will lead the pre-construction phase of the SKA, aiming for construction readiness at the end of 2015 and preparing for the construction phase to follow, the SKA Organisation said on Wednesday.
"He will develop and maintain strategic relationships with national agencies, partners, governments, industry and other private sector entities, along with all other project stakeholders."
At the moment the SKA Organisation has nine members — Sweden, Australia, Canada, China, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK — with India as an associate member.
Prof Diamond said he expected that there would be another member country by the end of the year, although he would not divulge which country.
Asked how the construction of the leviathan telescope, with thousands of receptors on two continents, would be funded, SKA Organisation spokeswoman Jo Bowler said earlier this year that the funding had not been finalised.
"No commitments on the construction funding have been made yet, so the number of (member) countries … fund the organisation in the design phase. Once the design has been done, then they can cost it and the pledges can be made," she said.
When the SKA site decision was announced in May, it was communicated that the organisation would have details on the split design in six months.
However, Prof Diamond disputed the six-month target, saying a request for proposals was being prepared, which would be sent to the industry and radio astronomy organisations so they could "bid to enable participation in the next phase of design".
More in this section
- Radio astronomy publication a milestone for SA
- Gauteng hospitals to get waste-generated backup power supply
- Joburg sets 2016 target to divert waste from landfill sites
- Network sees value biodiversity has for business
- Buyers, not banks or agents, push for greener homes
- Acid water pumps must be in place in months
- Licensing bill to be redrafted after avalanche of disapproval
- Saxonwold ANC ‘to act against Atul Gupta’
- Gupta brothers are merely a symptom, not the problem
- Burger King fires up its grill in Cape Town
- Health insurance plan, price regulation soon, says minister
- Courts reel in SARS ‘fishing expeditions’ against taxpayers