SKA universe telescope contract split between the two rivals

The US$2bn contract — which will now increase in cost – for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope complex competed for between Australia and South Africa is being shared, according to John Wormsley, the SKA board chairman, following a meeting of SKA members in Holland a few weeks ago.

Speaking on the award to complete the building and to operate the world’s most powerful radio telescope to look into the universe, Wormsley, according to a SAPA report on a press meeting held at the time at Schiphol Airport, said, “We have decided on a dual site approach.”

“We will be installing equipment in both Australia and South Africa and together they will form part of a global observatory,” he said.

President Jacob Zuma  congratulated science and technology minister, Naledi Pandor, on winning the SA portion of the bid to host the SKA. It would seem that the South African government interpreted the award as a major win for South Africa due the nature of the duality and the split in money terms.

President Zuma announced, “On behalf of government and fellow South Africans, I congratulate Ms Naledi Pandor and her entire team for their hard work which saw South Africa win the bid to host this major Square Kilometre Array at home.”

The decision for a “dual site solution” was taken after a recent meeting by a SKA working group, which Wormsley said “made the best use of both the significant investments those countries made to astronomy.”

South Africa’s site in the Karoo will have dish arrays connected by a remote link to a network of dishes stretching across southern and eastern Africa up to Ghana.

President Zuma further acknowledged that this “mammoth achievement was possible because of the African Union endorsement and support from partner countries, namely, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia and Zambia.”

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