WASHINGTON — NASA officials broke ground near Canberra, Australia on
Wednesday, beginning a new antenna-building campaign to improve Deep
Space Network communications.
Following the recommendations of an independent study, NASA embarked
on an ambitious project to replace its aging fleet of 70-meter-wide
(230-foot-wide) dishes with a new generation of 34-meter (112-foot)
antennas by 2025.
The three 70-meter antennas, located at the NASA Deep Space Network
complexes at Goldstone, Calif., Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, are more
than 40 years old and show wear and tear from constant use.
The new antennas, known as “beam wave guide” antennas, can be used
more flexibly, allowing the network to operate on several different
frequency bands within the same antenna. Their electronic equipment
is more accessible, making maintenance easier and less costly. The
new antennas also can receive higher-frequency, wider-bandwidth
signals known as the “Ka band.” This band, required for new NASA
missions approved after 2009, allows the newer antennas to carry more
data than the older ones.
In the first phase of the project near Canberra, NASA expects to
complete the building of up to three 34-meter antennas by 2018. The
decision to begin construction came on the 50th anniversary of U.S.
and Australian cooperation in space tracking operations.
“There is no better way to celebrate our 50 years of collaboration and
partnership in exploring the heavens with the government of Australia
than our renewed commitment and investment in new capabilities
required for the next five decades,” said Badri Younes, deputy
associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at
NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Space Communications and Navigation is responsible for managing all
NASA space communications and navigation resources and their
operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.,
manages the agency’s Deep Space Network, an important component of
the agency’s space communications resources.
NASA’s goal is to integrate all NASA communications resources into a
unified, far more capable network. Australia’s Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization manages the
communication complex near Canberra for NASA.
For more information about the Deep Space Network, visit:
For more information about NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation