SAfrica stops short of being disappointed over SKA verdict

May 25, 2012

South Africa stopped short of expressing disappointment after it failed to win the bid to single-handily host the world's most powerful radio telescope.

It will co-host with Australia the radio telescope that would give mankind its farthest peek into the Universe, the (SKA) project announced in the Netherlands Friday.

Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said the decision to split the hosting of SKA was "unexpected".

"We had hoped the unambiguous recommendation (to build the telecsope in one location) ... would be accepted as the most sound scientific outcome; however we accept the compromise in the interest of progress," she told reporters.

Justin Jonas, a leading South African scientist with the telescope project said: "One may feel that this is a compromise situation, we might feel slightly disappointed that we didn't get the whole thing, but I think we should emphasise that we did get the majority of ... one of the largest in the world.

He added that it was a "turning point in Africa where we are becoming a destination for science and engineering, and not just perhaps a place where there are resources."

The two southern-hemisphere countries had been fighting fiercely to host the innovation, billed as a revolutionary giant that will be 50 times more powerful than present . New Zealand is included in Australia's bid.

Conceived more than two decades ago, the Square Kilometre Array aims at bringing together unprecedented size and .

Explore further: South Africa confident on super-telescope bid ahead of talks

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