The Australian Government will invest $387 million to help build the world’s largest radio telescope in Western Australia’s Murchison region.
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an intergovernmental big-science radio telescope project that will create more than 350 jobs during the 10-year construction phase and a further 230 ongoing positions during its more than 50 year lifetime.
An international collaboration between 16 member countries, the SKA will be built in Australia and South Africa, with Australia to build and host the low-frequency part of the telescope (SKA-Low), which includes up to 131,072 individual SKA antennas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government’s $387 million investment includes $64.4 million to establish a Perth-based specialist super-computing centre that will process the unprecedented amounts of data that will be generated by the SKA.
“Our investment in the construction and operations of the SKA will build our manufacturing capacity within the highly-skilled technology sector, and enable major scientific breakthroughs to be made right here in Western Australia,” Mr Morrison continued.
“The SKA will help our scientists make more discoveries than we can imagine today. Whether it’s better understanding the origin and future of our stars and galaxies to how gravity works across the universe.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said the project is expected to attract an estimated $1.8 billion in foreign income flows into Australia during its first 30 years of operations, boosting local innovation at the cutting edge of computing and modern manufacturing.
“Modern manufacturing employs tradespeople, engineers and scientists, and is the core of an advanced economy,” Minister Porter added.
“In fact, several Australian companies have already developed and manufactured components for the telescope prototypes and precursor telescopes.
“This new investment will build on our $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy and be a significant boost to the space sector, which is one of the strategy’s six priority sectors. It will strengthen our efforts to develop cutting edge industries with a global reach.”
According to the Prime Minister’s statement, global construction activities are expected to begin in the second half of this year, with work expected to begin in WA from early next year.