Lough Derg: the spirit of a holy place

IMAGE Wednesday, 04 April 2012
A small island in a lake called Lough Derg is one of the most famous of Ireland's places of pilgrimage. About 35,000 pilgrims come to it each year intent on doing penance for their sins or seeking divine intervention in their lives. Read More...

Nantes-Brest Canal, Brittany's popular leisure waterway

IMAGE Friday, 07 October 2011
The Nantes-Brest Canal is a 364 km long waterway connecting the city of Brest, on the west of Brittany, to the city of Nantes in the south east. Read More...

The shrine of the Cailleach at Glen Lyon

IMAGE Wednesday, 07 September 2011
Each year, in one of the most remote areas of Scotland, a family of stones are brought out of the house in the spring and returned to the house for the winter. The tradition stretches back thousands of years and the site is believed to be the only surviving shrine to the Celtic goddess Cailleach. Read More...

Newport Celtic Festival and Highland Games, Oregon

IMAGE Tuesday, 17 May 2011
A cultural celebration of the seven Celtic nations, the new festival on the Oregon coast features Celtic music, dance, food, drink, crafts, vendors, kids events, family histories and Highland Games. Read More...

World's largest tidal power project

IMAGE Thursday, 07 April 2011
The world's largest tidal stream energy array will be built in the Sound of Islay on Scotland's west coast. Read More...

Wales' new devolution settlement

IMAGE Thursday, 03 March 2011
Following the 'Yes' victory in the 3 March 2011 Referendum, Wales will now be able to pass its own laws in twenty policy fields. Read More...

The Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

IMAGE Thursday, 03 March 2011
The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland has an unparalleled display of polygonal columns of basalt rock resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Read More...

Goonhilly: Cornwall's place in the space race

Goonhilly: Cornwall's place in the space raceWorld-famous Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is back in business as new consortium plans to upgrade facilities for communication with deep space missions.

World-famous Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is back in business as new consortium plans to upgrade facilities for communication with deep space missions.

Cornwall will soon be ready to transmit signals to spacecraft visiting the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, one of the world's most famous communications sites, is to be upgraded to support space science missions.

Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, CornwallBuilt in 1962 on the Lizard Peninsula, Goonhilly was at one time the largest satellite earth station in the world with 61 satellite dishes.

The historic Cornish station received the world's first live transatlantic television broadcast and played a key role in many ground-breaking broadcasting events, such as the Olympic Games, the 1969 moon landings and 1985's Live Aid concert.

Today the station handles computer data, TV signals and about 10 million telephone calls a week. In the 9/11 terror attacks, Goonhilly provided alternative routes for data after communication systems in the US were down.

Goonhilly was also one of Cornwall's most popular tourist attractions with around 80,000 visitors a year.

However, in 2008 the station's owners British Telecom (BT) ceased most operations at the site and moved many of the dishes to England. The decline of the complex, by then threatened with demolition, continued further as in 2010 BT decided to close the site's visitor centre.

New consortium to bring Goonhilly back to forefront of communications technology

After years of decline, on 11th January 2011 it was announced that Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is to be sold to a consortium which will relaunch the station as a space science centre.

The consortium, called Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd (GES), is backed by key partners such as Oxford University, QinetiQ, the UK Space Agency and the International Space Innovation Centre.

Once a pioneering facility in international communications, Goonhilly will now be at the forefront of world-leading radio astronomy projects and deep space exploration.

Some of the satellite dishes at the station will be upgraded to make them suitable for deep space communication with spacecraft missions, as Goonhilly will now transmit signals to space shuttles visiting the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The site will work with the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, and will be connected to the largest telescope ever to be built: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a €1.5 billion collaboration of 20 countries which may provide answers about the origin of the Universe.

Many young new scientists will stay at Goonhilly as the facilities will also be used by students and staff of Oxford and other universities

GES Chief Executive Ian Jones said the space sector is growing rapidly and there is a world shortage of download capabilities for manned space travel support.

Goonhilly has traditionally been an important source for skilled jobs in Cornwall. The redevelopment of the station is expected to generate many new jobs and business opportunities as the site becomes a world-class example of space research and education.

Arthur and Merlin to communicate with deep space

Goonhilly's giant satellite dishes were nicknamed after characters in the Arthurian legend, much of which takes place in Cornwall.

Arthur is the site's oldest dish and the world's first parabolic satellite communications antenna. It weighs 1,118 tonnes and its dish measures 25.9 metres in diameter. Together with Brittany's dish at Pleumeur Bodou, Arthur was the first to received the first transatlantic broadcast via the Telstar satellite on 11 July 1962. In those days, the station only had to deal with one television channel or 500 simultaneous telephone calls.

Built in 1985, Merlin is now Goonhilly's largest dish with a diameter of 32 metres and just 395 tonnes of weight. Other arthurian dubbed dishes at the Cornish station include Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde.

Tourists will be able to see Arthur and Merlin again as Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd plans to upgrade and reopen the former visitor centre as an Outreach Centre promoting space science for visitors, including local residents and schools.

Search the Magazine


Celtic Countries is the online magazine for people who enjoy the Celtic nations, their natural splendour, culture, and lifestyles.

About CelticCountries.com | Write for us | Advertise

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Sign up for our monthy Celtic Countries Magazine email newsletter for the latest stories from our website.