NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN, is a network of US Spacecraft communication facilities than spans the globe. Running 24/7/365, facilities operating the network are located in California, Spain, and Australia, each approximately 120 degrees apart on Earth, ensuring that any satellite in deep space has the capability to communicate with Earth at all times. The DNS is managed at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The network also performs astronomical observations and supports certain Earth-orbiting missions in Space.

 

The Deep Space Network was established in 1958 at JPL, under contract of the US Army at the time. In December of that year, JPL transferred from the Army to the newly created NASA to consolidate and separate developing space programs from the military to civilian organizations. Shortly after the transfer, the concept for the Deep Space Network formed, responsible for its own research and development to accommodate all missions into deep space. Since then, it has grown into the world leader of the development of dishes, satellites, antennas, signal processing, deep space navigation, and many other areas of space technology. The Deep Space Network’s largest antennas are the go to for spacecraft emergencies, famously during the Apollo 13 mission, preventing great tragedy. Aside from US missions, in the spirit of international cooperation in space, the DSN offers emergency service to other space agencies as well. Many rescue missions, including the recovery of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory SOHO would not have been possible without the DSN.

 

Three primary facilities on Earth provide NASA’s DSN an unobstructed view of the cosmos at all times:

Location: Mojave Desert, California

Established: 1958

Notable Features: Five Large Antennas

Location: Robledo de Chavela, Spain

Established: 1961

Altitude: 720m

Notable Features: Seven Large Parabolic Antennas

Location: Tidbinbilla, Australia

Established: March 19, 1965

Altitude: 550m

Notable Features: Five Large Antennas

Funding: $20 Million per year to operate