CANBERRA, March 25 (Xinhua) — Australia’s national science agency has announced that the Parkes radio telescope will provide ground support for commercial lunar missions.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which owns and operates the telescope, on Thursday revealed it has signed a five-year deal with Houston-based Intuitive Machines to support multiple moon landings.
The 64-meter Parkes telescope, which turns 60 in October, will be the largest and most sensitive telescope used for Intuitive Machines’ missions, the first of which could be launched in the second half of 2021.
Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, said that the deal marked a new chapter for the iconic telescope that has previously been used to broadcast live images of the Apollo 11 Moon landing to the world.
“It was 50 years ago that Australia played a critical role in the original Moon mission, but innovation never sleeps, so we’re proud to support the latest innovations heading to the Moon’s surface,” he said in a media release.
“Australia is growing a vibrant space industry, underpinned by our unique strengths in agriculture, mining, and materials, and because we know innovation thrives on collaboration, we’re supporting the entire international space community.”
Intuitive Machines has partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX for its lunar missions.
Its Nova-C Moon lander will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will deliver five NASA experiments that will test what technology is required for future human exploration of the Moon. Enditem