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NASA breaks ground on new communications antenna

NASA has broken ground on the construction of the first new communications antenna since 2003 at its Goldstone, Californa, site, one of three the agency maintains worldwide for communicating with its planetary probes.

There has been a desperate need to both expand and upgrade this network, dubbed the Deep Space Network, for years, a need that will grow even more desperate next year with the addition of two more rovers on Mars.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Brian

    Just think if Spacex is successful in establishing a presences on Mars in the coming decade with its Starship even if it’s only a small presences, how much the Deep Space Network would have to be upgraded. That’s a lot different than a few rovers and orbiters at Mars.

  • Chris

    Are there comparable networks established in China, EU or Russia?

  • Chris: Doing a quick search on BtB for “Deep Space Network” I found two posts that are relevant. First, China has one antenna in Argentina which they say is used for their interplanetary probes: China’s unsupervised radio antenna in Argentina

    Second, it appears that Europe has now built its own network as well. See this 2016 post: Keeping the Deep Space Network working

    The DSN however appears to be the backbone, with the other systems designed as back-ups or supplements. China however would not be allowed to use the DSN, due to legal restrictions preventing NASA from working with them. They might however have agreements with Europe.

  • wayne

    Whatever happened to the Greenbank radio telescope, in Virginia? Was that ever a part of the DSN?
    (I know it collapsed 25+/- years ago and was rebuilt—didn’t they change the name to the Robert Byrd radio telescope (or some such rot)?

  • wayne: Greenbank was designed for radio astronomy, not communications. Entirely different thing.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I recall reading that the original Green Bank radio telescope was CIA sponsored, and designed to intercept internal USSR radio transmissions by capturing their reflection off of the moon! This would have been back in the day when the CIA spied on America’s ENEMIES.

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