Is there life on Mars? A communications station in Cornwall has been given millions of pounds in funding to help find out.

Goonhilly satellite Earth Station, famous for beaming the images of the moon landing across Britain, has landed £8.4m to upgrade its facilities so that it can support contact between earth and missions to Mars and deep space.

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The two-year upgrade of the satellite dish known as Goonhilly 6 will be supported by the European Space Agency and will bring the satellites up to standard for its explorations as well as those by Nasa and private companies. The local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal also provided funding

“We’re working hard to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age as part of the government’s industrial strategy, so it’s fantastic to see the world’s first commercial deep space communications network coming to Cornwall," said science minister Sam Gyimah.

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“The UK Space Agency has played a vital role in supporting this partnership and will continue to work alongside industry, local leaders and international partners to grow the UK’s share of the global space market. We already play a significant role in satellite manufacturing, with one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites built in the UK, and want to establish the UK as a world-leading destination for space launch. ”

The site on the Lizard peninsula which is leased from BT, is one of several locations bidding to become one of the UK's spaceports which will support commercial space travel.

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