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22nd of August 2015
A new dish for the deep space network
by Ed Kruzins (CASS)
On Thursday 20 August, CDSCC added a new dish to its family of 4. DSS36 will be a new 34 metre beam waveguide (BWG) antenna operating at X, Ka and ultimately at S band frequencies to assist 40 different space missions currently on CDSCC's tracking manifest. Construction of DSS36 began in earnest early in 2015 with the arrival of containers of the prefabricated components for the alidade supporting structure and dish itself. In December 2014, DSS36 was no more than a deep hole in the ground with a bedrock base of hard granite but with a continuous welding program from February 2015 eventually became two major pieces composed of a supporting structure and a 125 ton dish that was lifted into place by a 300 ton crane on the 20th. The day ended with a final lift of the quad legged sub reflector, adorned with an Australian flag, and secured to the top of the dish surface which will be configured to a surface accuracy of 0.2mm rms to ensure high antenna efficiency.

Over the next few months, DSS36 will complete final work on its elevation and azimuth gears and runners, civil works for fibre and power connection, servo systems, LNA's, transmitters and HVAC systems. Together with its sister antenna DSS35 completed in December 2014, the two antennas (DS35, 36) represent a recent investment by NASA in Australia of $120M and will provide a total of 5 apertures (4 x 34 metre + 1 x 70 metre) at CDSCC as part of the Deep Space Network (DSN). This new investment will see CDSCC supporting the growth of new space missions to the southern ecliptic and continues CDSCC's role with the DSN for NASA and JPL, for at least another 25-30 years.

See News @ CSIRO for a movie of the event. - CDSCC is the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

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