The History and Future of Space Communications

The History and Future of Space Communications – Celebrating 50 Years of the NASA Deep Space Network

Feb. 13 & 14

On December 24, 1963, a memo from Dr. William Pickering, JPL Director at that time, announced that the Deep Space Network was established. Prior to this date, antennas had been built at the Goldstone site in California's Mojave Desert, and overseas sites were being developed in Woomera, Australia, and in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, Dr. Pickering's action combined these disparate elements to create the first integrated global communications capability to deep space.

During the ensuing 50 years the DSN has evolved. The original antennas were 26-meters but were soon joined by much larger 64-meter antennas. As the sophistication of spacecraft instrumentation grew, the DSN also grew to meet the new demands. Both 26-meter and 64-meter antennas were upgraded and enlarged to 34-meter and 70-meters respectively. New 34-meter high efficiency antennas were designed; and most recently a unique communication system was developed in the widely used 34-meter beam waveguide antennas. This talk will discuss the networks evolution and the critical role it has played in space exploration.

Dr. Joseph Lazio, Chief Scientist of the Interplanetary Network Directorate, JPL


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