Deep Space Network Adds a 34m Beam Wave Guide Antenna in Madrid, Spain
Preparing for the communication needs of an expected population boom in interplanetary spacecraft, NASA has selected a builder to add an advanced dish antenna, 34 meters in diameter (112 feet), near Madrid, Spain, one of the three sites of the agency's Deep Space Network.
"Crunch Period" - Beginning in November 2003
In late 2003 and early 2004, the United States, Europe and Japan will each have missions arriving at Mars, two other spacecraft will be encountering comets, and a third comet mission will launch. Several other missions will have continuing communication needs.
NASA has selected Schwartz-Hautmont Construcciones Metalicas S.A. of Tarragona, Spain, as the successful bidder to build a new antenna near Madrid.
Estimated Time of Completion
The 34 meter antenna at the Madrid complex is due for completion by November 2003.
Advantages of an additional antenna
Projections for demands on the network during the November 2003 to February 2004 period indicate the greatest need for increased communications capacity will be at Madrid. NASA plans to land two rovers on Mars in early 2004. Building a new 34-meter, antenna in Madrid would add about 70 hours of spacecraft-tracking time per week during the periods when Mars is in view of Madrid. The Madrid complex's current capacity is 210 hours within Mars view periods per week.
Beamwave Guide Technology
The new antenna in Madrid is being built to the same design as existing antennas using the latest advancements in communications techniques and equipment. For further information about Beam Wave Guide antennas click here.
Additional upgrades to the DSN planned
The new antenna is the biggest piece in about $54 million worth of improvements that NASA's Office of Space Science, Office of Space Flight, and Space Operations Management Office have set as priorities for increasing the Deep Space Network's capabilities by late 2003. Other parts of the plan would improve the capabilities of existing antennas at all three of the network's tracking complexes: Madrid; Canberra, Australia; and Goldstone, near Barstow, California.