Australian Space Agency and ESA construct a new deep space antenna
The country is receiving the latest deep space communications antenna thanks to a collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA) and the Australian Space Agency, further developing Australia’s space sector.
The ESA and the Australian Space Agency recently announced the construction of the 35-metre, 620-tonne deep-space antenna at the New Norcia station, 140 kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia.
The antenna will be a new model and will complement the existing deep space antenna on the site. It will also have new functionalities and will support additional communication frequencies. It is also said to have a super-cooled ‘antenna feed’, cryogenically cooled to around -263 Celsius and increase data return by up to 40 per cent.
“We are happy to announce the latest addition to ESA’s state-of-the-art deep space communication network and this important next step in our relationship with the Australian Space Agency,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.
“ESA’s network is crucial infrastructure that helps enable cooperation and cross-support with missions flown by partners like NASA, JAXA and other agencies, and this boosts science return and efficiency for all involved.”
The ESA has set aside a budget of €45 million for the new antenna. The said budget will cover antenna procurement and construction as well as upgrades to station buildings and services.
A significant portion of the budget will be spent in Australia with the involvement of a number of Australian companies. Meanwhile, the prime contractor for the project will come from an ESA Member State.
“The new antenna is not only positive progress in the Agency and ESA’s cooperative relationship, but also an important contributor to the local economy which will help grow Australia’s civil space industry,” said Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo.
The deep-space antenna is a joint undertaking of the ESA and the Australian Space Agency and is a contribution to their long-term cooperation in the space domain. Aside from its economic, technology and scientific benefits, the deep-space antenna allows further collaboration in areas within the space sector. Construction for the antenna is due to be completed in 2024.