Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

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Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex - general view (2174403243).jpg
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC)
Organization CSIRO / NASA / JPL
Location Tidbinbilla,
Australian Capital Territory
Established March 1965
70m telescope at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a ground station that is located in Australia at Tidbinbilla in the Paddys River (a tributory of the Cotter River) valley, about 20 km from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. The complex is part of the Deep Space Network run by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It is commonly referred to as the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and was officially opened on 19 March 1965 by the then Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies.

The station is separated from Canberra by the Murrumbidgee River, but most notably by the Coolamon Ridge and Urambi Hills, but mainly by Bullen Range, that help shield the city's radio frequency (RF) noise from the dishes. Located nearby is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

The CSIRO manages most of NASA's activities in Australia.

In February 2010 CSIRO took over direct management of the site with the establishment of CASS (CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science). Previous to this CDSCC had been managed by external sub-contractor organisations, such as Raytheon Australia from 2003-2010.

The complex is one of just three in the world. The other two are the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex located in Spain and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the United States.


Tidbinbilla Locality Map, the site is marked with the red star.

During the mid 1960s NASA built three tracking stations in the Australian Capital Territory.

  • The Tidbinbilla Tracking Station (now known as CDSCC) was opened in 1965 and is the only NASA tracking station in Australia still in operation. During the Apollo program, Tidbinbilla was used for tracking the Apollo Lunar Module.


Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

As of mid 2010 the Station has three large antennas in use: DSS-34, DSS-43, and DSS-45. The CDSCC also uses the Parkes radio telescope in central New South Wales at busy times to receive data from spacecraft. There are plans to build up to three additional 34 m beam waveguide antennas by 2015. The first of these will be DSS-35 with preliminary construction having begun in July 2010.[1]

  • DSS-34 is a 34 m beam waveguide antenna, which uses a system of radio frequency mirrors to place the receiving and transmitting hardware underground rather than on top of the dish. It is the most recent antenna at CDSCC, being built in 1997.
  • DSS-43 is a 70 m dish originally constructed as a 64 m in 1973 and enlarged in 1987. It is the largest steerable parabolic antenna in the Southern Hemisphere. The antenna weighs more than 3000 tonnes and rotates on a film of oil approximately 0.17mm thick. The reflector surface is made up of 1,272 aluminium panels with a total surface area of 4180 square metres.
  • DSS-45 is a 34 m dish built in 1986.
  • DSS-46 is a 26 m dish. It was moved in 1984 from Honeysuckle Creek, where it was built in 1967. It was decommissioned in late 2009. In May 2010 the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) declared the antenna a Historical Aerospace Site.[2]
  • DSS-49 is the designation of the 64 m dish at Parkes.
  • DSS-35 is a 34 m dish expected to be operational in late 2014.
  • DSS-36 is a 34 m dish expected to be operational in the 2014-2016 timeframe.

The station's collimation tower is located approximately 3 km to the north-west, on Black Hill.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Antenna Construction - page 8". NASA. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "AustraliaHistoricalSite". AIAA. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 

External links[edit]