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Goonhilly work to make Lancelot live again
7:00am Friday 1st February 2013 in Cornwall
Engineers are working to bring one of the antennas at Goonhilly Earth Station back to life.
Five years after operations were shut down at the station on the Lizard Peninsula, the site is coming full circle. The antenna Goonhilly-4, fondly referred to as Lancelot, has been left unused for several years but could soon be back up and running.
Ian Jones, chief executive officer of Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, said: “It’s part of a programme of bringing these antennas back into service. The antennas at Goonhilly are one of the most important assets in the region and it’s great to see them starting to operate again.”
Goonhilly-4 is a 19m antenna has been idle and pointing to the horizon for the last few years, yet it is an historic asset at Goonhilly – back in 1978 it was the first antenna of its type to be built in Europe, operating at Ku-Band. These days all Sky TV channels are delivered using this frequency band, so in a sense the modern satellite TV revolution also started at Goonhilly as well as the very first trans-Atlantic TV link in 1962.
“Goonhilly-4 has an interesting mechanical arrangement,” said Ian. “The whole antenna sits on a semi-circular rail track. It’s relatively easy to drive the antenna left and right.”
However as a safety precaution in high winds, there is an ‘anti-uplift’ system which limits the amount of travel along the track.
“Last week we were moving this anti-uplift mechanism along the track – not something you would attempt with your home tool kit and we re-sectored the antenna so it can now see a useful part of the geostationary arc where the communication satellites are located in the sky.”
He added that despite looking rather dirty, the whole structure was in remarkably good shape.
“I can’t wait to get a pressure washer onto it and starting our performance testing,” he said.
Plans for a major re-development of Goonhilly are still being held up by the lack of progress with GES Ltd’s Regional Growth Fund award.
“We remain ever hopeful that the situation will be resolved soon and we have been working extremely hard to resolve. It’s very frustrating not to be able to get on with the job of transforming the site, but in the meantime we have been building our commercial business very successfully and the future of Goonhilly is assured.”