SKA receives €5m boost to kickstart infrastructure development

23rd February 2016 By: Megan van Wyngaardt - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

SKA receives €5m boost to kickstart infrastructure development

The European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme has granted the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project €5-million for the detailed design of infrastructure required at the two SKA telescope cohost sites – the Murchison region of Western Australia and South Africa’s Karoo.

The funds would be used to advance work at the SKA global headquarters in the UK, as well as by the two teams responsible for delivering the SKA’s infrastructure design –  Infrastructure Australia, led by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in partnership with Aurecon Australasia, and Infrastructure South Africa, led by SKA South Africa.

A SKA SA-led consortium received about €2.25-million, or about R40.3-million, of the funding to undertake the detailed design of the SKA1_MID infrastructure and power elements in South Africa.

This included power networks, roads, buildings, antenna foundations, water and sanitation, site monitoring, security, communications and vehicles.

Led by SKA SA site operations GM Tracy Cheetham, the Infrastructure South Africa team includes 11 SKA SA staff members, three graduate professionals, six retired engineers from the South African Institute for Civil Engineering Development Projects and other South African industry partners.

"We are extremely pleased and excited to receive this funding to take forward the detailed design of the SKA1_MID infrastructure and power on behalf of the SKA organisation.

“It is also a very good opportunity to involve experts and retired engineers, as well as to provide an opportunity to young engineering professionals to hone their skills on a project of this magnitude, which is directly in line with SKA SA's vision of developing science and engineering capacity in South Africa,” Cheetham said.

South African industry partners were being appointed to assist with the detailed design of the SKA1_MID antenna foundations and the construction of an antenna foundation prototype on site and to undertake the detailed design of the building and power facility upgrades required for SKA1_MID.

The main deliverables would include capital, operations and maintenance cost plan updates; a topographical survey of the SKA1_MID site; a geotechnical and geohydrological investigation of the SKA1_MID site; road maintenance usage reports; radio frequency interference control plans for infrastructure and power subelements; a power analysis report; antenna foundation prototype and detailed design; detailed design reports of all infrastructure and power subelements; a suite of management plans; and a critical design review.

The detailed design started in April 2015 and was expected to be completed in April 2017.