The international SKA Organisation (SKAO) has taken crucial steps forward and is now well on track.
In March 2015, the board of directors and the members of the organisation agreed to the proposal for re-baselining the first phase of SKA, called SKA1. This was done to ensure that SKA1 could be built within the cost cap of €650 million but still have the capability to carry out the science that it will be expected to do.
The SKAO will incorporate the SKA precursor, MeerKAT (64 dishes) into SKA1_MID, which will include the addition of another 133 dishes in the Karoo – all of them 15m in diameter. SKA1_MID will therefore consist of 197 dishes in an array spread over baselines of up to 150km. 125 000 low-frequency antennas will be constructed in Western Australia.
Following the re-baselining decision the detailed design of the SKA1 system is proceeding through international consortia. SKA South Africa plays a leading role in most of these consortia. They have all completed their preliminary design reviews.
The SKA project has now entered its final pre-construction phase (or detailed design phase) before construction of SKA1 commences in 2018.
In parallel, we are working with the science community around the world to refine the Key Science Projects to be addressed in the first years of operation of the telescope, from 2020 onwards. These are the main science drivers for the SKA and the principal reason it is built.
On the policy front, work continues towards establishing the SKA Organisation as an international Treaty Organisation – similar to CERN or ESO – which will ensure a smooth procurement and strong governance over the lifetime of the project.