Picture Album of the
DEEP SPACE NETWORK
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NASA began planning for an antenna significantly larger than 26 meters in diameter in 1960, in anticipation of the need to support more sophisticated second- and third-generation solar- system exploration spacecraft by the end of the decade. Such spacecraft included high-resolution photographic lunar satellites, planetary orbiters, and manned lunar orbiters and landers. Without larger antennas, NASA would have to be content with less good data per unit time.
William D. Merrick led the JPL engineering team that managed the planning and construction of the Advanced Antenna System. Early planning included (1) consultation with the Caltech engineers who had designed the hydrostatic bearing of the Palomar Mountain 200-inch optical telescope; (2) feasibility studies conducted by Hughes Aircraft Company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Blaw-Knox Company, and North American Aviation, Inc., that considered various antenna configurations; and (3) a performance study of the 64-meter radio telescope at Parkes that the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization completed in 1961.
Following evaluation of proposals by four industrial teams, NASA, on June 20, 1963, awarded the Rohr Corporation a $12-million contract for the detailed design and construction of a 64-meter antenna at Goldstone. The photo montage shows installation of the alidade (upper left), the elevation wheel and tie truss (upper right), and the internal and external reflector ribbing (bottom left and right).
The first reception of spacecraft signals by the antenna occurred on March 18, 1966, when Mariner 4 was approaching solar occultation across the solar system from Earth. Because this spacecraft had previously flown by Mars, the antenna and its supporting buildings became known as the Mars Station (DSS 14). In later years, the antenna played a major role in the reception of signals from Apollo manned spacecraft at lunar distances, Viking spacecraft in orbit around and on the surface of Mars, and Voyager spacecraft during encounters with the outer planets.