Satellite link

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The European Space Agency (ESA) is to build its third deep space ground station in Malargüe, Argentina, in support of the ESA tracking stations network (ESTRACK).

ESTRACK is a system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and ESA’s Operations Control Centre. ESA’s deep space network currently has two 35m tracking stations in Spain and Australia. The third station in Argentina will join these and seven other 15m stations to form the core ESTRACK network.

Gaele Winters, ESA director of operations and infrastructure, said: ‘The site offers all the features that are required for a long-term ground segment investment. We are very pleased that we could pave the way for promising space missions with the support of the Argentinean authorities.’

The Malargüe site, which is located in the desert, is free from radio interference and and has long-term usage guaranteed by Argentina’s National Communications Commission. It is intended to provide additional deep space coverage for better telecommunication during mission-critical events and improved return of scientific data.

The antenna is scheduled for operation from mid-2012 and completion of the legal framework with Argentina is anticipated at the end of August 2009.