From the first steps on the Moon to the edge of the Solar System, we've been working with NASA at the forefront of space science. In July 2015, we were the prime tracking station for the closest encounter between the New Horizons spacecraft and dwarf planet Pluto.
For more than 50 years, NASA's Deep Space Network has been tracking spacecraft in our Solar System, and we've been right there with them.
Launched in 2006 and about the size of a grand piano, the New Horizons spacecraft has travelled further in space than any other mission. It took 4.5 hours for the data to travel from New Horizons to Earth. As it passed Pluto, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) received the best quality, most detailed images we’ve ever had of the former planet. See our Australia captures world first close-ups of Pluto! media release for more details.
Australia's partnership with the United States in space missions formally dates from February 1960, when the two governments signed an agreement to facilitate cooperation.
We began joint spacecraft-tracking projects with NASA in 1962, when our Parkes radio telescope was used to receive signals from NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft.
Now, we are continuing to contribute to the wonders of space exploration. We manage and operate the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, one of three tracking stations around the world that make up NASA's Deep Space Network. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with more than 40 spacecraft, including missions to study Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Pluto, the Moon and the Sun.