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Forty Years of Space Talk
03.31.06
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Narrator: Forty years of space talk. I'm Jane Platt and you're listening to a podcast from JPL, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Apollo 11 audio: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Narrator: Undoubtedly some of the most famous words in history brought to you from the moon by the 64-meter antenna at NASA's Deep Space Network station at Goldstone in California's Mojave Desert. It's one of three Deep Space Network stations around the world-the others are in Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, Australia.

The Goldstone 64-meter antenna --- later expanded to 70 meters is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Today we're taking a field trip, out to the very windy foothills directly behind JPL. Joining us is Dennis Buck. He is the Deep Space Network antenna manager.

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Narrator: And we are on a mesa that is directly above JPL, and we can actually see the building that houses the Deep Space Network control center. So over the last 40 years, we've had a lot of missions that have relied on this 64-meter antenna, which as you pointed out is now the 70-meter antenna. Some of the missions, some of the highlights that you consider the greatest hits?

Buck: Essentially every deep space spacecraft has been tracked by the 70-meter antennas, or the 64-meter antennas before that.

Narrator: So it has included missions from where to where to where?

Buck: Oh, Mariners and Vikings, Voyagers, Voyagers still being tracked. Pioneer, all JPL missions and most of the European and Japanese missions.

Narrator: It has tracked missions from what location to what location?

Buck: It has tracked everything from Apollo at lunar distances all the way out to Pioneers, essentially leaving the solar system, Voyagers out to the heliosphere and everything in between. Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury.

Narrator: And how does the control room here at JPL figure in with the Deep Space Network and the 70-meter?

Buck: This is the central location. The data from all the antennas are fed back to JPL here at the control center, Building 230 where, from there it's distributed to the various flight projects, whether here at JPL or one of our other users.

Narrator: When a mission launches and when it's going into orbit, we recently had Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that arrived in orbit around the Red Planet, you're always waiting to hear from the Deep Space Network. And when you get the signal?

Buck: Our highest anxiety is when we're waiting to pick a spacecraft up, especially one that's just landing or one that's just launched, and we're trying to pick it up for the first time. It's making sure that we're actually on it, so we always sweat quite a bit until we actually lock up with the spacecraft.

Narrator: Well, thank you very much.

Buck: You're welcome.

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Narrator: Before we sign off, here's a website where you can get more information about the Deep Space Network, including info on how to arrange for a tour of Goldstone. It's http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/ . As in Deep Space Network, DSN. Thanks for joining us for this podcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.