June 29, 2009

ESA to build new antenna in Argentina

The European Space Agency says it plans to build a 35-meter deep space antenna in Argentina, about 620 miles west of Buenos Aires.

The antenna, to be located in Malargue, will be the first ESA infrastructure to be built in Argentina.

The site offers all the features that are required for a long-term ground segment investment, said Gaele Winters, ESA director of operations and infrastructure. We are very pleased that we could pave the way for promising space missions with the support of the Argentinean authorities.

The ESA said its decision, which is subject to successful completion of negotiations, is the result of several months of evaluation among 35 sites in both Chile and Argentina to establish ESA's third deep space ground station as part of the ESA Tracking network.

The space agency said the site is situated in a desert area, free from radio interference and with frequency usage guaranteed in the longer term by Argentina's National Communications Commission.

The ESA's deep space network currently has two 35-meter tracking stations, one in Cebreros, Spain, and the other in New Norcia, Australia.

The new antenna is to become operational in mid-2012.