A trip to Goldstone

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in southern California.  Goldstone is one of three sites around the world (the others being in Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia) that receive and transmit data to spacecraft in deep space.  Three sites are needed to provide 24-hour coverage as the Earth rotates.  Goldstone’s history dates to 1958, when it was commissioned to receive data from Explorer 1, NASA’s first satellite.  Today Goldstone communicates with 30 spacecraft, ranging from SOHO and Stereo A&B viewing the Sun to Voyager 1, nearly 18 billion kilometers (10 billion miles) from Earth.