A Chinese consular delegation headed by the Chinese Consul-General in Manchester visited the SKA Organisation Headquarters at Jodrell Bank on Wednesday 15 April.
Mr LI Yongsheng, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester, accompanied by his wife and consular staff, was welcomed by the SKA Organisation Director General Prof. Philip Diamond.
The visit focused on the SKA with a presentation by the Director General on the progress of the project and also featured a visit of the Jodrell Bank Observatory where the current headquarters of the SKA is located. Prof. Simon Garrington, Director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory and Prof. Steve Watts, Head of the University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy also took part in the visit.
“We are pleased to see the Chinese government’s strong involvement in the Square Kilometre Array project,” declared the Consul-General. “As a representative of the Chinese government in the UK, I am very interested and curious to know more about the project.”
“We’re honoured to welcome the Consul-General here at the headquarters,” said Prof. Diamond. “China is a valued partner in the SKA and the Chinese government has shown increasing interest in the project. We look forward to working closely with them as we develop the governance of the SKA and move to construction and operations.”
China is involved in 6 of the 11 international consortia that are designing the SKA. In particular, they are taking an active role in the Dish consortium through Shijiazhuang-based state-owned company CETC54, who manufactured the 36 12m diameter dishes for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP). The contract for the manufacture of the hundreds and eventually thousands of SKA dishes is expected to be one of the largest construction contracts of the SKA.
China is currently contributing ~€19M towards the €150M overall cost of the pre-construction design activities. The cost of construction of the first phase of the SKA – due to start in 2018 and be completed by 2023 – has been cost-capped at €650M. “As a major contributor to the design of SKA, and as a country with a strong tradition in radio astronomy, we’re hopeful that China will be a 10% partner in the project” said Prof. Diamond.
The 50-staff-strong SKA Organisation headquarters currently counts one Chinese staff member: Dr. WANG Qiming, Head of Policy Development, as well as a Chinese engineer seconded from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to support the SKA’s systems engineering team. Another secondee is expected to join the office shortly to support the SKA’s Communications & Outreach team, in particular with the development of outreach material to help raise public awareness of the SKA in China.