The forerunner of the DSN was established in January, 1958, when JPL, then under contract to the U.S. Army, deployed portable radio tracking stations in Nigeria, Singapore, and California to receive telemetry and plot the orbit of the Army-launched Explorer 1, the first successful U.S. satellite. NASA was officially established on October 1, 1958, to consolidate the separately developing space-exploration programs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force into one civilian organization.
On December 3, 1958, JPL was transferred from the Army to NASA and given responsibility for the design and execution of lunar and planetary exploration programs using automatically operated spacecraft. Shortly afterward, NASA established the concept of the Deep Space Network as a separately managed and operated communications facility that would accommodate all deep space missions, thereby avoiding the need for each flight project to acquire and operate its own specialized space communications network. The Deep Space Network was given responsibility for its own research, development, and operation in support of all of its users. Under this concept, it has become a world leader in the development of low-noise receivers, tracking, telemetry and command systems, digital signal processing, and deep space navigation.