How Goonhilly Helps iSpace29th Apr 2023
It is clear that the ispace M1 mission landed too roughly a landing to continue. However, behind the successes and declarations that “Space is Hard”, there is the work done by Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) that can be termed an unqualified success. In this case, GES worked under contract with ESA to provide a variety of radio-signal related services – some unhoped for, but all expected. Let’s take a look at how Goonhilly helps ispace.
Getting HAKUTO-R to the Moon
According to ESA, after its site in Australia acquired the first signals from the HAKUTO-R space vehicle, GES was one of two sites to follow the vehicle out into deep space. Goonhilly runs the only deep-space rated commercial communications site in the world. Its variety of satellite dishes available help establish ranging, send commands to and receive data from the spacecraft. This stage of the flight lasted through to the end of 2022.
First Seat in the Lunar Economy
Had the HAKUTO-R vehicle landed safely, GES would have been very busy with a variety of control and data receipt from the Japanese vehicle. The M1 mission featured several experiments, including two rovers. On-board payloads included next-generation batteries. All these would have had data to send back to Earth and would need to be commanded.
GEC CTO Matthew Cosby told OT that, “If right now, we’re hoping to have 2-3 missions to the Moon, in 10 years, there could be hundreds. The UK space industry will have a part of that.” Building the infrastructure to run that will need the signal capability that GES has at hand.
How Goonhilly helps ispace figure out what went wrong
The sudden and unexplained loss of signal during the M1 mission started a flurry of activity. What went wrong? The radio astronomy community began to share screenshots of the radio signal.
GES sent the data it collected to iSpace. GES CEO confirmed this to OT’s editor via Twitter: