UK Space exploration – Jodrell Bank boost for Northern Powerhouse Science and Tech leadership and Goonhilly goes global

There is plenty going on in that highly specialist sector of our built environment that is space exploration. Good to see Jodrell Bank reinforcing and building its profile as a global player with its nomination at the beginning of the year by the UK Government to UNESCO for World Heritage Site status in 2019. As part of Manchester University this plays well into the drive for UK pre-eminence in tech and science fo4 this part of the Northern Powerhouse. 

Fantastic also to see Goonhilly Earth Station (anyone born in the 50’s and early 60’s will remember that name) receiving a real boost from its LEP and ongoing support from the European Space Agency. 

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The Jodrell Bank Observatory is home to the Grade I Listed Lovell Telescope and is a site of global importance in the history of radio astronomy. Founded in 1945, it is the earliest radio astronomy observatory in the world still in existence and pioneered the exploration of the universe using radio waves.

Goonhilly Earth Station, which famously beamed images of the moon landings to millions of television viewers, will receive £8.4 million to establish it with deep-space tracking and satellite communication services on a commercial basis.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We’re working hard to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it’s fantastic to see the world’s first commercial deep space communications network coming to Cornwall.

The contract, funded through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP’s Growth Deal with the UK Government, via ESA, including €2 million which comes from the UK Space Agency’s investment in ESA, will be to upgrade one of the earth station’s largest antennas, the 32 m-diameter GHY-6, which carried the 1985 Live Aid concert around the world shortly after it was built. During the estimated two year upgrade, qualifying tests will be carried out under ESA’s oversight to include tracking of several of the Agency’s deep-space missions, including the Mars Express spacecraft which has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2003.

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