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China enters new era in SKA project

SKA-China LoI

Tuesday 22 September 2015, SKA Organisation Headquarters, UK – The Chinese government has entered a new phase of involvement in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project as it signs the SKA Letter of Intent (LoI).

The signing of the LoI marks China’s intention to enter formal negotiations with other SKA member nations. The negotiations are aimed at developing an intergovernmental agreement to establish the SKA Observatory and defining their contribution to the construction of Phase 1 of the SKA telescope. The SKA radio telescope, to be built in Australia and in Africa, will be the largest radio telescope in the world and will be constructed in two phases, the first phase representing about 10% of the full project.

“This is a very positive step both for the project and for China, one that opens the prospect of industrial contracts for Chinese industry and observing time for the Chinese astronomical community. I look forward to working with the Chinese government in the coming months to define the scope of their participation” said Professor Philip Diamond, Director-General of SKA Organisation.

The letter was signed by Vice Minister Jianlin Cao from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Mr Cao is responsible for international cooperation and high technology development.

SKA Organisation, headquartered near Manchester, UK and whose current legal status is that of a UK private company, is in the process of establishing itself as an inter-governmental organisation or IGO – similar to CERN or ESO – to formalise the relationship between the project and its members.

By signing the LoI, China is joining a select group of six other countries, including the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The process to draft the SKA Intergovernmental Organisation’s treaty or convention is being chaired by the Italian government, with the aim of being completed in 2016 ready for the start of construction in 2018.

China has been taking part in the detailed design of the SKA, initially through the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) and since 2012 through the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Chinese industry, research institutions and universities are involved in 6 of the 11 international design consortia, including Dish (DSH), Low-Frequency Aperture Array (LFAA), Mid-Frequency Aperture Array (MFAA), Signal and Data Transport (SaDT), Science Data Processor (SDP) and Wideband Single Pixel Feeds (WBSPF).

Chinese audiences can now find out about the SKA in Chinese on the Chinese SKA mini-site.


SKA Organisation hosted a Chinese media visit with Xinhua news agency, CCTV and Science & Technology Daily to announce the signature of the Letter of Intent. Posing here with Jodrell Bank’s Lovell Telescope in the background.

William Garnier
SKA Organisation Director of Communications, Outreach and Education
tel: +44 7814 908932
Landline: +44 161 306 9613