17 December 2021 Industry News

First commercial lunar distance communications network validated in space

Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. deep space antenna, GHY-6. Image: Brian Mader
Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. deep space antenna, GHY-6. Image: Brian Mader

Working together, Intuitive Machines (IM) and Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd. recently integrated GES’s newly commissioned deep space antenna (GHY-6) into IM’s Lunar Telemetry and Tracking Network (LTN). The LTN will provide near-continuous coverage during the company’s IM-1 mission to the Moon in early 2022.

The validation concluded with the complete system ‘live-sky’ test receiving the European Space Agency (ESA) INTEGRAL spacecraft’s signal and streaming the data back to the IM mission operations center in Houston, Texas.

“GHY-6 has been supporting ESA’s missions since the antenna was opened in the summer of 2021,” said Matt Cosby, chief technology officer for GES. “The work with IM marks the start of GES and IM offering commercial services to the Moon and testing the complete system using INTEGRAL mitigates the risk for the IM-1 mission.”

“Through GES’s GHY-6 deep space antenna, IM received data from a spacecraft nearly half the distance to the Moon,” said Troy LeBlanc Ph.D., the Vice President of Control Centers for IM. “This sends a powerful message that GES and IM together will be a major provider of near space network communications.”

About Intuitive Machines
Intuitive Machines' complete Lunar Payload Delivery Services (LPDS) program unlocks the lunar economy to explore the solar system further and gain knowledge for the progress of humanity. As a premier provider of space services and technologies, Intuitive Machines is reestablishing the United States' dominance on the ultimate high ground, the Moon. Designed by the greatest minds in spaceflight, Intuitive Machines' LPDS program will send the first American spacecraft to the surface of the Moon since the Apollo Program and send the first spacecraft ever to reach the lunar south pole.

About Goonhilly
Goonhilly is a global communications services hub and satellite station located in Cornwall, UK. It provides a comprehensive range of leading-edge connectivity and operational solutions to the space industry, GEO, MEO and LEO satellite fleet operators, broadcasters, as well as a wide diversity of enterprises seeking to grow their businesses on Earth and in cis-lunar and deep space. Customers include SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat and Inmarsat, as well as space agencies, governments, broadcasters and others. Since 2014 the partners in Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. have been focused on building the company and investing in the site.

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