Two 34-meter antennas are part of a NASA plan to replace large, aging antennas that support NASA's interplanetary flight missions.
General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies received a $40.7 million contract from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build two additional 34-meter (112-foot wide) beam waveguide antennas as part of NASA's modernization and transformation plan to continue scientific studies of the Earth as well as explore distant bodies in the solar system. The new antennas will be located at the Deep Space Network (DSN) facility in Canberra, Australia.
Originally designed by JPL and built by SATCOM Technologies' San Jose, Calif. facility, the antennas enable the Deep Space Network to communicate with existing flight missions such as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spitzer Space telescope, Saturn explorer Cassini, as well as support future NASA space missions. The company has built nine 34-meter antennas for NASA's Deep Space Network.
Unique features of the installation are the beam waveguide-style antennas which house sensitive electronics and systems in a room inside the antenna's ground-based pedestal rather than in the center of the reflector. This design makes it easier for technicians to maintain the equipment as well as implement technology upgrades. Construction, integration and testing for the two new antennas, designated Deep Space Stations 35 and 36, are scheduled for completion by 2014 and 2016, respectively.
NASA's Deep Space Network is an international collection of antennas that support NASA's spacecraft missions as well as radar and radio observatories that explore the solar system and universe. There are three Deep Space Network facilities, located 120 degrees apart, in California, Spain and Australia. This strategic placement enables constant observation and communication as the Earth rotates, making the Deep Space Network one of the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications systems in the world.
Gary Kanipe, Vice President of General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies, said, "This contract, combined with General Dynamics' continuing work to modernize the space administration's ground systems, meets NASA's critical need for seamless upgrades to communications and network infrastructure, while maintaining mission critical operations."
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Deep space network for NASA Headquarters, Washington. More information about the Deep space network is online at http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov. For more information on NASA's Space Communications and Navigation program, visit: https://www.spacecomm.nasa.gov.