Science & technology minister Derek Hanekom has welcomed a UK contribution of R1,7bn to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.
“The significance is in the impetus that this provides to implementation of phase one 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.”
UK minister of state for universities & science David Willetts announced the allocation.
South Africa itself has made a contribution of close to R4bn for the MeerKAT and the associated human capital development programmes.
The country is currently building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the 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 and envisages completing the 64-dish array by 2016/2017. — Sapa