To Deep Space with Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd

Making long distance calls a reality

In 2018, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd secured a multi-£million investment to develop the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station, capable of tracking future missions to the Moon and Mars. The project to deliver deep-space tracking and satellite communication services involves significant upgrade works to one of their largest antennas, the 32m diameter GHY-6 which was built in 1985. These bespoke works will enable Goonhilly to meet the high-end performance and technology requirements needed by ESA, NASA and private space exploration companies for deep-space communications

The project

Goonhilly is one of the most recognized names in the space industry, famous for a number of high-profile projects, such as being involved in the first trans-Atlantic TV transmission and for beaming the moon landings footage to millions of viewers in 1969. Goonhilly is still at the forefront of commercial space tech, communications infrastructure and data connectivity, with a vision to create a multi-faceted space hub.

Expert supply chain advice

The solution

Our infrastructure and tech specialists advised on the procurement of the supply chain to upgrade the antennas, starting with GHY-6. Notwithstanding their focus on deep space, a key consideration for Goonhilly was their desire to work with leading lawyers much closer to home, so our presence and profile in the region was key. We were able to meet with the team from Goonhilly on site to better understand the scope and complexity of the works involved.

The construction work to date has involved negotiating a turnkey EPC contract with a specialist international bidder using the early contractor involvement approach.

Goonhilly has built an incredible team to complete the upgrade over the last 3 years. Working closely with the European Space Agency the project involved a refurbishment of the Antenna replacing the motors, gearboxes and thousands of bolts on the structure. The complete workings of the communications system have been completely replaced to allow us to seamlessly connect to ESA’s control centre, where they are able to send commands to Mars and receive their data from the spacecraft.

Matt Cosby, Chief Technology Officer at Goonhilly

Enabling deep space communications

The results

The contract was agreed and has enabled the upgrade works to the first antenna to progress notwithstanding external issues such as Brexit and a global pandemic. [In June 2021 the European Space Agency signed off the antenna as complete and ready for their operational use.]