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R.I.P Goonhilly Earth Station

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posted by alias [Nocturne] on Monday 17th of October 2011 07:35:55 PM

I always loved this place as a kid, my parents used to bring me here on our yearly trip to Cornwall, Always interested me, Near us, we have Jodrell Bank, this place way bigger and way better. It practically broke my heart when I heard the news that it had closed down and been decommissioned. I couldn't believe it, so on our trip down to Cornwall I had to come back to say goodbye, they have already taken a lot of the dishes down but 2 of the biggest remain, it is now being sold off. We did have a nice surprise though, when we arived in the day time we drove in, and the whole place was closed, except one thing, something that was not there when it was an Earth Station. A Segway centre, a place where you could rent out Segways £25 for 80 minutes, 40 minutes onroad Segways and 40 Minutes off road Segways, it was awesome, we got to ride around the remaining dish you can see in the picture, have a bit of fun a few races, a great day and a good way to say goodbye. Well not quite the way to say goodbye, so we came back when it got dark, the gates were closed but we got shots from the outside. This one was my favourite, thanks to Weedall for doing the lighting, The lighting really represents the high technology that used to be here. So here it is, goodbye Goonhilly Earth Station, i'll be lucky if I see you again. Here is information about Goonhilly's rise and downfall. Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is a large telecommunications site located on Goonhilly Downs near Helston on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, England, UK. Owned by BT Group plc, it was at one time the largest satellite earth station in the world, with more than 25 communications dishes in use and over 60 in total. The site also links into undersea cable lines. Its first dish, Antenna One (dubbed "Arthur"), was built in 1962 to link with Telstar. It was the first open parabolic design and is 25.9 metres in diameter and weighs 1,118 tonnes. Arthur received the first live transatlantic television broadcasts from the United States via the Telstar satellite on July 11, 1962. It is now a Grade II listed structure and is therefore protected. The site has also played a key role in communications events such as the Muhammad Ali fights, the Olympic Games, the 1969 moon landings and 1985's Live Aid concert. The site's largest dish, dubbed "Merlin", has a diameter of 32 metres. Other dishes include Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde after characters in Arthurian legend, much of which takes place in Cornwall. The earth station is powered by the national grid. If power fails, all essential equipment will run off huge batteries for 20 seconds, during which time four one-megawatt diesel generators will take over. The nearby wind generator farm is not part of the complex. On 12 September 2006, BT announced it would shut down satellite operations at Goonhilly in 2008, and move them to Madley Communications Centre in Herefordshire, making that centre BT's only earth station and the biggest in the world. Until Easter 2010 the site had a visitor centre inside which the Connected Earth gallery told the history of satellite communications. There were many other interactive exhibits, a cafe, a shop and one of Britain's fastest cybercafés (a one gigabit pipe and a theoretical maximum speed per iMac of 100 Mbit). There were also tours around the main BT site and into the heart of Arthur. At its prime, the site attracted around 80,000 visitors a year, but in March 2010 BT announced that the visitor centre would be "Closed for Easter and beyond until further notice." On 11th January 2011 it was announced that part of the site is to be sold to create a space science centre. This will involve upgrading some of the dishes to make them suitable for "deep space communication with spacecraft missions". A new company has been formed to manage the operations, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. The company will lease most of the antennas for at least three years with the option to buy the entire complex in the future. There are also plans to upgrade the former visitor centre into "an outreach centre promoting space and space science for visitors, including local residents and schools".

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