Picture Album of the
DEEP SPACE NETWORK
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An integrated Apollo and deep-space station (DSS 72) was constructed from 1965 to 1966 on the British island of Ascension, in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 2,250 kilometers (1,400 miles) east of South America, 1,600 miles west of Africa, and about 4,000 miles down the Air Force Eastern Test Range (ETR).
The original purpose of constructing this station was to support the early Surveyor missions, whose Atlas-Centaur launch vehicles would produce a direct-ascent trajectory to the Moon, rather than insertion from a parking orbit. Translunar injection would therefore occur before the spacecraft was visible to either the Johannesburg station or the stations in Spain. Consequently, a station nearer to the launch site than these facilities was needed to obtain during this phase positional data vital to trajectory determination and midcourse corrections.
Because such a station could also support later deep-space missions and Apollo manned missions, NASA decided to build an integrated facility (with a joint-control building) serving both programs. A site survey conducted by Goddard Space Flight Center personnel in April 1964 on Ascension Island, where an ETR station was already established, identified a suitable site at Devil's Ashpit, on the eastern side of the island. Volcanic peaks surrounding the site provided natural shielding against radar and other radio-frequency interference from the ETR station and a British broadcasting facility elsewhere on the 88-square- kilometer (34-square-mile) island.
Deep space and Apollo missions were separately monitored by two 9-meter, az-el-mounted antennas with high angular-tracking rates. The deep-space antenna (on the right in the photo) had a nominal communications range of 60,300 kilometers (37,500 miles). This station was funded by the U.S. State Department.