Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is an Earth station in Australia located at Tidbinbilla in the Australian Capital Territory. Opened in 1965, the complex was used for tracking the Apollo Lunar Module. Deep Space Network of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), managed in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in 2010
OrganizationCSIRO / NASA / JPL
LocationTidbinbilla, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Coordinates35°24′05″S 148°58′54″E
Altitude550 m
Established19 March 1965
TelescopesDSS 35
DSS 36
DSS 43
DSS 46 
Location of Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
Related media on Wikimedia Commons


The complex is located in the Paddys River (a tributary 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 then Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies.

The station is separated from Canberra by the Murrumbidgee River and, more importantly, the Coolamon Ridge, Urambi Hills, and Bullen Range, which help shield the dishes from the city's radio frequency (RF) noise. 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; BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace Australia) 1990-2003; AWA Electronic Services -1990.


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


As of late 2016 the Station has five large antennas in use: DSS-34, DSS-35, DSS-36, 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 has been ongoing construction since 2010 building additional 34 m beam waveguide antenna. Construction of DSS-35 began in July 2010.[1] The station's collimation tower is located approximately 3 km to the north-west, on Black Hill.

PhotoDesignationStatusMain apertureNotes
DSS-33Decommissioned11mA small A/E antenna which was decommissioned for DSN use in 2002 and moved to Norway in 2009 to be used for atmospheric research.[2]
DSS-34Active34mBeam waveguide antenna, uses a system of radio frequency mirrors to place the receiving and transmitting hardware underground rather than on top of the dish. Built in 1997.
DSS-35Active34mOperational in late 2014 and officially opened in March 2015.
DSS-36Active34mDish installed August 2015. Operational late 2016 and officially opened on 3 November 2016.[3]
DSS-42Decommissioned34mDecommissioned in 2000 and dismantled shortly after. This was an "hour angle declination" antenna and was the original antenna constructed at the complex.
DSS-43Active70mOriginally constructed as a 64 m dish 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 4,180 square metres.
DSS-45Decommissioned34mBuilt in 1986. Decommissioned November 2016 soon after DSS-36 became fully operational.
Decommissioned26mOriginally built as DSS-44 in 1967 and located at Honeysuckle Creek, it was moved in 1984 and reassigned DSS-46. It was decommissioned in late 2009. In May 2010 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics declared the antenna a Historical Aerospace Site, and the antenna remains in place.[4]
DSS-49Active64mParkes radio telescope Capable of linking in to provide support, however is incapable of transmitting (this is a receiver only).


CDSCC costs about A$20 million per year to run, and is funded by NASA.[5][6]

See also


  1. "Antenna Construction - page 8" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  2. "Antennas". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  3. "Deep Space Station 36: Huge NASA dish lifted into place outside Canberra after delays". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  4. "AustraliaHistoricalSite" (PDF). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  5. "Over fifty years of space collaboration between Australia and the United States". Department of Industry, Australian Government. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  6. "Frequently Asked Questions". Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Retrieved 24 July 2015.

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