SKA ushers in era of scientific space diplomacy


Russia launched a rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, from its Baikonur space pad.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is flexing its diplomatic muscle -- this time in the field of science and astronomy.

It&39;s preparing for the launch of what will one day be the world&39;s largest and most powerful radio telescope, currently being built in the Northern Cape.

A total of 11 countries are participating in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, with South Africa as the host nation playing the leading role.

It could be considered a mini-United Nations.

In fact, it&39;s not just one radio antenna telescope, but more than two hundred satellite dishes, fifty meters in diameter to be built in Canarvon in the Northern Cape.

It will join thousands of smaller antennas in the Australian outback, which are monitored at facilities in the UK, built and supported from countries as far afield as China and Spain.

Later this week, the SKA&39;s sister project, Meerkat, will be officially opened, meaning more than 60 of the radio satellites will be operational

* eNCA reporter Lester Kiewit has more on this story. Watch the full video in the gallery above.