MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Guy Webster (818) 354-6278
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2001
DEEP SPACE NETWORK UPGRADING FOR "CRUNCH TIME"
Preparing for the communication needs of an expected
population boom in interplanetary spacecraft, NASA has
selected a builder to add an advanced dish antenna, 34 meters
in diameter (112 feet), near Madrid, Spain, one of the three
sites of the agency's Deep Space Network.
The Deep Space Network is a global system for
communicating with interplanetary spacecraft.
"We are getting ready for a crunch period beginning in
November 2003," said Rich Miller, head of planning and
commitments for the part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, Calif., that manages the network. In late 2003
and early 2004, the United States, Europe and Japan will each
have missions arriving at Mars, two other spacecraft will be
encountering comets, and a third comet mission will launch.
Several other missions will have continuing communication
NASA has selected Schwartz-Hautmont Construcciones
Metalicas S.A. of Tarragona, Spain, as the successful bidder
to build a new antenna to be completed at the Madrid complex
by November 2003. The antenna is the biggest piece in about
$54 million worth of improvements that NASA's Office of Space
Science, Office of Space Flight, and Space Operations
Management Office have set as priorities for increasing the
Deep Space Network's capabilities by late 2003. Other parts of
the plan would improve the capabilities of existing antennas
at all three of the network's tracking complexes: Madrid;
Canberra, Australia; and Goldstone, near Barstow, Calif.
The Deep Space Network communicates with spacecraft that
are anywhere from near Earth to out past Pluto. The network
uses clusters of antennas at the three sites spaced
approximately one-third of the way around the Earth from each
other so they can cover spacecraft in any direction as the
world turns. Each station has one 70-meter diameter (230-foot)
antenna, plus several smaller ones.
Projections for demands on the network during the
November 2003 to February 2004 period indicate the greatest
need for increased communications capacity will be at Madrid.
NASA plans to land two rovers on Mars in early 2004. Building
a new 34-meter, antenna in Madrid would add about 70 hours of
spacecraft-tracking time per week during the periods when Mars
is in view of Madrid. The Madrid complex's current capacity is
210 hours within Mars view periods per week.
Additional information about the Deep Space Network is
available online at http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn . JPL, a
division of the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena, manages the network for NASA.