AAC Clyde Space wins SEK 137 M order from SKA Observatory

AAC Clyde Space’s subsidiary AAC Omnisys has won a EUR 12.0 million (approx. SEK 137 million) order to build radio astronomy receivers for the SKA Observatory. The order will be delivered successively by the first quarter of 2027.

 

The contract, the largest awarded by the SKA Observatory to Sweden, is for the provision of advanced receivers for the Observatory’s SKA-Mid telescope, currently under construction in South Africa.

The SKAO, short for Square Kilometre Array Observatory, is a publicly-funded intergovernmental organisation that is building two of the world’s largest radio telescopes, SKA-Mid in South Africa and SKA-Low in Australia. Unlike conventional telescopes, the SKA telescopes are made up of a collection of thousands of antennas and hundreds of dishes spread over long distances, and connected together by thousands of kilometres of optical fiber. Using state-of-the-art supercomputers to process the data the telescopes receive from the sky then distribute it to the international scientific community, the SKAO is paving the way for a deeper understanding of the Universe.

AAC Omnisys has been selected to provide the SKA-Mid dishes with the Band 1 front end. Covering the 0.35-1.05 GHz frequency range, each receiver is over a meter across and weighs 180 kg. Omnisys will deliver 80 complete functioning and integrated receiver systems to the project. Delivery is expected to continue until the first quarter of 2027.

The receivers are based on a prototype first developed by Sweden’s Onsala Space Observatory, a key partner in the SKA project for many years. After years of development and testing, including in Canada and South Africa on the MeerKAT telescope, a precursor to the SKA, the Swedish Band 1 receiver passed its design review and was selected by the SKAO. In 2021, Chalmers University of Technology signed a cooperation agreement with the SKAO on behalf of Sweden, opening up procurement opportunities for Swedish companies.

With its long expertise in the space and astronomy sector, including working with the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory on the international ALMA radio telescope in Chile, AAC Omnisys will now take this design and manufacture it at scale to answer SKAO’s needs.

“The SKA Observatory is set to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics as it will provide a significant leap in telescope performance through its sheer size and the large number of antennas. We are proud to have such a central part in turning the SKA into reality, highlighting our innovative approach to quality systems and solutions. We are making space for our future!”,¬†says¬†AAC Clyde Space CEO Luis Gomes.