SKA wins top honours at Steel Awards

07 September 2015

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Africa project’s radio antennae positioner took top honours at this year’s Southern African Institute of Steel Construction Steel Awards
This year marked the second in a row that the overall winner also took first prize in the Association of Steel Tube and Pipe Manufacturers Tubular category.

The judges noted that the SKA project’s use of tubular steelwork for the 64 antennae that will be required “shows off the attributes of tubular construction and represents excellence in the use of tubular steelwork”.

The antennae positioner enables a vertical tilt range of between 15° and 88°, and an azimuth range of 360° to an accuracy of within 1.4-thousandths of a degree under optimal conditions, and seven-thousandths of a degree during normal operational conditions.

Further, the largely tubular antennae support structure, was, by choice of the fabrication team, constructed with zero-tolerance targets.

The judges concluded that a scientific project of this nature, which challenges the skills of South African engineers and scientists to rise above the challenges and to “make it work”, is especially a triumph in the use of steelwork and is “truly deserving” of being the overall winner of the 2015 Steel Awards.

Project-managed by satellite and communications products and services provider General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies, the SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

When operational, it will provide astronomers with unprecedented detail, thousands of times faster than currently and to a resolution 50 times that of the Hubble space telescope.

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