CAPE TOWN: Hundred and thirty-three radio satellites still need to be constructed to complete phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the Northern Cape.
Deputy President David Mabuza joined by Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and other local and international delegates launched the MeerKAT precursor to the SKA project outside Carnarvon on Friday.
International astronomers have already booked time for the next five years to utilise the facility to study the galaxy.
Around R3.2 billion has already been spent on the MeerKAT project thus far.
Each of the 64 satellites constructed, so far, have just one radio receiver, but by the time the project is completed, they’ll have three each.
This will vastly expand its sensitivity range.
Officials say 75% of the dish components are being manufactured locally.
Takalani Nemaungani, the chief director for astronomy in the Department of Science and Technology, says the total construction cost was spent over the past 15 years and extends to more than just the manufacturing of the satellite dishes.
“We had to build power lines, we have had to build a road, we’ve tarred the road which used to be gravel, then we have also had to roll fibre lines all the way down to Cape Town from here. We have had to build this huge dish assembly facility and many other buildings here on site.”
Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array will consist of 197 radio satellite dishes.