Parliamentary Question: DST: Square Kilometre Array


“Ms M R Shinn (DA) to ask the Minister of Science and Technology:

With reference to the savings of R508 875 million due to rescheduling the Square Kilometre Array demonstrator telescope (details furnished), (a) why is her department cutting over R500 million from the SKA programme and (b) what will be achieved by the specified financial adjustment;

Whether the rescheduling will delay operational target date for MeerKAT; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;

Whether the SKA telescope was rescheduled because South Africa is behind in preparations for its SKA bid; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?”

1(a) The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) funds are not being cut but rescheduled for spending in later years to allow for alignment of the MeerKAT design with the design requirements of the full SKA.

The specifications and timelines for adjudication positions the African bid more favourably because it has provided an opportunity for the construction of a MeerKAT that is a proper SKA demonstrator telescope. The South African SKA Project Office had an opportunity to review the MeerKAT design and have a telescope design that is nearer to the SKA.

The rescheduling is not the reason for the delay of the operational target date for MeerKAT. A review of the MeerKAT design to ensure alignment with the full SKA has resulted in the delay of the operational target date for MeerKAT.

South Africa’s preparations for the SKA bid are ahead of schedule. The first demonstrator dish antenna prototype array telescope specifically designed for the SKA, which is the seven-dish antennae of the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7), was completed in early 2010.