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  • Goonhilly antenna. Credit: Goonhilly Earth Station

Deep-Space Tracking Centre for Cornwall

Apr 07 2018 Read 333 Times

Goonhilly Earth Station, which famously beamed images of the moon landings to millions of television viewers, will receive £8.4 million to establish it with deep-space tracking and satellite communication services on a commercial basis.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We’re working hard to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it’s fantastic to see the world’s first commercial deep space communications network coming to Cornwall.

“The UK Space Agency has played a vital role in supporting this partnership and will continue to work alongside industry, local leaders and international partners to grow the UK’s share of the global space market. We already play a significant role in satellite manufacturing, with one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites built in the UK and want to establish the UK as a world-leading destination for space launch. ”

The contract, funded through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP’s Growth Deal with the UK Government, via ESA, including €2 million which comes from the UK Space Agency’s investment in ESA, will be to upgrade one of the earth station's largest antennas, the 32 m-diameter GHY-6, which carried the 1985 Live Aid concert around the world shortly after it was built. During the estimated two year upgrade, qualifying tests will be carried out under ESA’s oversight to include tracking of several of the Agency’s deep-space missions, including the Mars Express spacecraft which has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2003.

Goonhilly CEO Ian Jones said: “We already have a great deal of interest in using the upgraded antenna from our international customer base. This includes space agencies, such as ESA, as well as some of the new private space exploration companies.”

The UK’s Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, said: “It is very encouraging to see a Local Enterprise Partnership using Government’s Growth Deal funding to support a rapidly growing sector through public and private sector collaboration. This contract will create skilled new jobs in the local area while assuring Cornwall’s place in history for its contribution to space exploration.”

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