Tidbinbilla, ACT, Australia

Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex
now known as
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex


While the first DSN 26 metre network (Goldstone, Woomera and Johannesburg) was adequate for the Ranger and early Mariner missions, planned missions (e.g. Surveyor, Lunar Orbiter and futher Mariner spacecraft) meant that a second network would also be needed.

The Echo site at Goldstone was already operational. Political concerns meant that Spain, rather than South Africa, would be the site of the station 120° east of Goldstone.

Problems in attracting staff to remote Woomera led to a site closer to a capital city for the Australian station in the new network.

The Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex was opened in March 1965, with Deep Space Antenna 42. (It was originally known as DSIF 42 – DSIF standing for Deep Space Instrumentation Facility.) It had become operational in December 1964.

The station is just 18 kilometres south west of the centre of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. It is shielded from the radio noise of Canberra by a range of hills to the east. As Canberra has grown, the nearest suburb (Kambah) is only 8km away at its nearest point.


This aerial photo taken from a commercial airliner flying between Sydney and Melbourne shows Tidbinbilla (now CDSCC) in the Tidbinbilla Valley just to the south west of Canberra.

A range of hills shields the tracking station from the radio noise of Canberra, even though the nearest suburbs are only 8km away.

Click on the image for a 2 page PDF file (3.6MB) – the first page has an annotated photo and the second page is without the annotations.

Looking approximately North.

Photo by Steve Howard, November 2014.

See also the telephoto view on this page.

Tidbinbilla was established as a Deep Space Tracking Station. However, during Apollo, Tidbinbilla had a dual role. A new wing was added to the Operations building, and Unified S-Band receiving and transmitting equipment was installed. This was a virtual extension of Honeysuckle Creek (20 km to the south), to which it was connected by microwave link.

Thus, during Apollo, the DSS-42 antenna was shared between the Deep Space Network (managed by JPL) and the Manned Space Flight Network (managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center).


Tom Sheehan

Welcome to Tidbinbilla!

Photo taken in 1971, by Tom Sheehan during a visit.


The original Tidbinbilla 26 metre (85 foot) antenna, DSS-42.

This was the only antenna at Tid until the 64m antenna was completed in 1972.

26m antenna - Tom Sheehan

Another view of the DSS-42 antenna.

Taken by Tom Sheehan, early 1971.


Any contributions, stories, photos are most welcome!