The Ministry of Science and Technology will build an astronomical park, referred to as Astro Park, to serve as a center for astronomy in the ASEAN region.
The Cabinet approved the project on 29 May 2012, when it also agreed to allocate a fund of 406 million baht for the establishment of the Astro Park.
The construction project will be carried out in two phases. The first phase, from 2013 to 2015, involves a budget of 203.5 million baht. The second phase, with a budget of 202.6 million baht, will be implemented from 2014 to 2016.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Astro Park is a flagship project in the road map of the National Astronomical Research Institute, which aims to develop itself as a center for astronomy in Southeast Asia and to foster cooperation in the field of astronomy with various countries in the ASEAN region.
The effort is in line with the Ministry of Science and Technology’s policy in using science and technology to shape the future of Thailand and develop the country into a knowledge-based society. Another objective is to promote investment in research and development, so that it will reach two percent of the gross domestic product.
The Astro Park will provide information about astronomy and serve as a coordinating center between the National Observatory and the six public observatories across the country. It will link with the Cerro Tololo International Observatory in Chile under cooperation with North Carolina University. The park will also work with its international links in China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
The project will consist of four major buildings: an astronomical research and service center, a museum of Thai astronomy, with an exhibition site, a planetarium, and an observatory. It will also include an auditorium and a seminar hall, two multi-purpose meeting rooms, a computer room to be used as an astronomical library, and an amphitheater, which is able to accommodate 500 persons.
At the same meeting, the Cabinet gave the green light to the strategy for the development of Thailand’s science park for 2013-2017. It also approved 8.6 billion baht for the establishment of regional science parks in the North, the Northeast, and the South.
The strategy for development of Thailand’s science park seeks to encourage the private sector to invest in research and development in leaps and bounds. In this regard, the private sector will play a vital role in setting up and developing the science park.
The establishment of regional science parks will be carried out in the next three years, from 2013 to 2015. In the North, Chiang Mai University will serve as the core agency, with an emphasis on adding value to Thai rice innovation. Khon Kaen University will be the core agency in the Northeast, with a focus on adding value to chicken processing. Prince of Songkla University will be the core agency in the South, with an emphasis on adding value to the rubber industry.