Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex

The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, aka "Goldstone Observatory," is the largest tracking station in the Deep Space Network, which is comprised of three installations around the world. As part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Goldstone is used primarily to communicate with deep space probes and satellites, and to study asteroids. The network can communicate and track multiple spacecraft within the solar system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Goldstone complex consists of nine separate sites, spread out over 33,000 acres in a remote region of California's Mojave Desert.

Goldstone was the first site chosen for a Deep Space Station. Its remote location, far from power lines and free of interference from television and commercial radio transmitters, made it the perfect spot to capture the weak signals sent by spacecraft millions of miles away from home. If you ever needed to make a call, this would be the place. It's the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world.

I had heard about Goldstone a good number of years ago and had the opportunity to schedule a tour of the facility for my Scout troop. We camped at nearby Owl Canyon, located in Rainbow Basin Natural Area (a beautiful spot not too far from Barstow, Cal.), and then visited the Goldstone facility one Saturday morning in 2008. Security is tight, as the complex is located on the grounds of Fort Irwin, a major training area for the U.S. military. But as our names were on the tour list, we got in without a hitch and met up with our tour guide and chaperon. We spent the next three hours exploring and learning about the Goldstone facility and space communications. There's a museum/educational center on the tour which is very informational.

It was a great experience and one I recommend to anyone who has an interest in space. Tour reservations are required and must be scheduled in advance, check the link HERE for more information. It's a very cool place to visit.