Goonhilly Earth Station To Support Three Major Space Missions

23rd Jul 2023
Goonhilly Earth Station To Support Three Major Space Missions

Cornwall based satellite communications and space gateway Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) will be involved in supporting three lunar missions in the near future. Partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and US-based Intuitive Machines, the British deep space ground station will aid the Chandrayaan-3 Lunar rover, Intuitive Machine’s first commercial lunar landing, and the Aditya-L1 solar observatory mission

Matt Cosby, CTO of Goonhilly Earth Station, said: “the collaborations with ISRO, ESA, and Intuitive Machines exemplify our commitment to advancing space exploration and facilitating global scientific achievements. We are excited to be at the forefront of driving the future of space communications and enabling the success of these transformative missions.”

ESG, ESA & ISRO Partnership For Chandrayaan-3 

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 rocket successfully took off recently with support from GES and ESA. Credit: ISRO

The first mission saw GES lend its 32m antenna, GHY-6, which connected with ESA’s Kourou antenna to monitor ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 rocket when it set-off on its Lunar mission this month. ESA and GES provided communications support during take-off, flight, lunar orbit, and on-surface operation phases. 

Seeing as ESG is the world’s only commercial deep space ground station, their GHY-6 antenna is central to ESA’s network. Therefore, the British team will “diligently track the spacecraft [and] precisely determine their locations during critical stages.” They will also provide command transmissions and absorb telemetry and data, which will be sent to ESA’s ESOC mission control centre, before distribution to ISRO for analysis. 

Aditya-L1 Solar Mission Support

GES’ second mission involves their GHY-6 antenna supporting the Aditya-L1 solar observatory mission, where ISRO will study the sun using a deep space probe to monitor the Milky Way’s central star. GES will assist with both cruise and operation phases, when Aditya-L1 lifts off on 26th August from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota – an island off the coast of India. 

Intuitive Machines Commercial Lunar Landing

Intuitive Machines IM-1 Lunar Lander will be supported by Goonhilly’s GHY-6 antenna. Credit: Intuitive Machines

GES also has a third mission: providing communication support for cruise, lunar orbit, and on-surface operations for Texas-based, Intuitive Machines, and their Lunar IM-1. The US company’s pending take-off is tipped to be the world’s first commercial Moon landing, poised for a Q3, 2023 take-off. GES has already commenced work on the mission by acquiring and tracking NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter alongside Intuitive Machines. They will also continue validating Lunar telemetry and tracking capabilities.

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