General Dynamics to Supply Next-Generation Deep Space Network Antennas
- Tuesday, 01 March 2011
Beam waveguide antennas
General Dynamics SATCOM
General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies has been chosen by NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) 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. The new antennas are part of a NASA plan to replace large, aging antennas that currently enable communications with NASA’s interplanetary flight missions.
Originally designed by JPL and built by General Dynamics, 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 to support future NASA space missions. The company has built nine 34-meter antennas for NASA’s Deep Space Network. JPL manages the Deep Space Network for NASA.
Beam waveguide-style antennas house sensitive electronics and systems in a room that is inside of the antenna’s ground-based pedestal, rather than in the center of the dish or 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.