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NASA to rely on South Africa's new ground station to track flights to moon

NASA to rely on South Africas new ground station to track flights to moon

Cape Town: NASA will be tracking space flights to the moon from a deep-space ground station being built in the Karoo region in South Africa. It will be online by 2025 and one of the three stations supporting communication with the astronauts on and around the moon.

The station is at a small village called Matjiesfontein which is 237 km north of Cape Town. The site was selected for its geographic location offering clear skies. The remote site has low radio interference as well.

It will become part of a network of several ground stations in the US and Australia. Established, operated, and maintained by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), it will be designed with an array of antennae including a three-storey, 20-metre diameter dish. This will improve the coverage and redundancy for critical mission support to the moon and Mars.

Phil Mjwara, director general at South Africa's department of science and innovation, said NASA would not have come to South Africa if they didn't feel that we have capacities to do the work in partnership with them.

NASA is planning to send the first woman or person of colour to the moon by 2025 through the Artemis programme. The first launch of its next-generation rocket ship is set for this month after several weeks of delay due to technical challenges and weather. The third Artemis will be landing astronauts on the moon and the first to land this time will be a woman of colour, reported Reuters.

Badri Younes, the deputy associate administrator and manager at NASA's Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) unit, said the first flight of Artemis is planned for next week.

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TAGS:NASASouth AfricamoonArtemisground station
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