Minister "happy" with SKA decision

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pretoria - Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa accepts and is "happy" with the decision to share the hosting of the most advanced scientific project in the world - the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

The decision as to who would host the SKA was made by members of the SKA Organisation at its meeting in the Netherlands earlier today.

South Africa and Australia - whose bid included New Zealand - were the last countries in the running to host the telescope.

"I am ecstatic; I am happy for our scientists, our country and for Africa. We have done it!" she told a media briefing in Pretoria.

The minister said she was especially pleased that the "iconic project" was coming to the African continent.

"It would have been good if we got all of it, but getting three quarters is good enough," she said.

She said this was an acknowledgement of the scientific prowess of South Africa's young scientists and engineers.

"After nine years of work by the South African and Australian SKA site bid teams, the independent SKA Site Advisory Committee, composed of world-renowned experts, carried out an objective technical and scientific assessment of the sites in South Africa and Australia, and identified by consensus Africa as the preferred site," the minister said.

However, in order to be inclusive, the SKA Organisation has agreed to consider constructing one of the three SKA receiver components in Australia. Two will be constructed in Africa.

She said that South Africa accepted the compromise in the interest of science and thanked the South African SKA team and scientists that had done sterling work over the past years.

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