The Register has the exciting news that Tidbinbilla’s Deep Space Communications Complex is about to hoist its new dish skyward.
As the image below from the Complex’s Webcam shows, getting the 34-metre dish from the ground onto its pedestal (completed in December 2012) won’t be trivial. DSS 35 is one of two new antennae under construction, and should be operational by 2014; the second, DSS 36, will go live in 2016.
Planned, approved and budgeted before America decided to threaten to blow its economic brains out via the fiscal sequester process, the DSS 35 and 36 antennae were planned to support an expected “growth in deep space missions”. Additionally, NASA notes, the for the next decade or so, the southern hemisphere has a better view of many of the three dozen spacecraft the CDSCC supports.
The two antennas can transmit from the S band to the Ka band at up to 80 kW, and can receive signals equivalent to 1/20 billionths of a watt.
The webcams are definitely worth keeping an eye on.