Building the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope will take a concerted international effort over more than a decade. There will be a range of opportunities for Australian and New Zealand industry and research organisations to take part in the various phases of R&D, planning and construction – and finally in operating and maintaining the telescope over its planned 50 year lifespan.
In the short-medium term, opportunities relate to involvement in the SKA pre-construction project in which the intensive R&D and design work needed for the SKA to be 'construction ready' will be done. During this phase, the system and sub-system designs, verification instruments and implementation plans and documentation needed for SKA construction will be developed.
The work will be split into a number of 'work packages', some to be undertaken by the SKA Office, based in Manchester, UK, (specifically the science; system integration and project management work-packages) and others by consortia of science institutes and industry (including the various sub-system design and verification work-packages). The pre-construction phase will run from 2012 to 2016.
Participation in pre-construction consortia will be on the basis of a partnering arrangement, with each party providing the resources needed to complete their agreed element of the work-package. The Australian and New Zealand governments are providing funding support to institutes and firms in each country participating in pre-construction consortia. The funding will be a co-investment intended to partly offset the costs of that involvement. There will be an expectation, however, that the participant will make a significant in-kind contribution – which could be in terms of staff time, access to facilities or access to IP, for example.
Important note: Generally speaking the SKA project is not procuring actual construction or manufacturing services or sourcing components at this stage. Opportunities to supply the project a more conventional way will come during the construction phases which are likely to start from around 2016 or 2017.
The international SKA Organisation, which manages the SKA project,
released its Request for Proposals (RfP) in March 2013, inviting research organisations and industry in the member countries to participate in the design of the SKA telescope. Responses to the RfP are due to the SKA Organisation Headquarters in the United Kingdom before 17:00 UT on June 10th 2013. The Request for Proposals and accompanying documentation can be accessed at the SKA Organisation website's RfP page