Spacecraft Communications: "The Vital Link" ~ 1967 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Published on Mar 15, 2017
The tracking and communications networks supporting Project Apollo and other early NASA spacecraft are described.
The NASA (Ground) Communications System (NASCOM) manages terrestrial communications between ground stations, mission control centers, and other elements of spacecraft ground segments, providing worldwide, near real-time transmission of commands, telemetry, voice, and television signals. It is managed out of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Beltsville, Maryland.
The NASCOM network comprises microwave links, undersea cables, land lines, and network centers at Goddard and around the world...
NASCOM began taking shape in the early 1960s, and was formally established in 1964, under the administration of the recently formed Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition. NASCOM tied together NASA's three tracking and acquisition networks at the time: the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN), the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN), and the Deep Space Network (DSN)...
The Apollo Program demanded augmentation of NASCOM lines to handle increased communication traffic, including television signals. By 1969, 2.0 million miles (3.2 million km) of circuits had been laid. By 1974, NASCOM was the largest broadband, real-time communication network in the world, linking all the continents except for Asia and Antarctica, and allowing for a two-way "dialog" with spacecraft from a centralized mission control center.NA
Notably, Apollo also spurred the development of communications satellites. In June 1965, NASA engaged the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) to launch three geosynchronous satellites to support communication with the Apollo tracking ships. Two of these spacecraft launched successfully and began to handle commercial traffic in addition to supporting Apollo.
Throughout the Apollo Program, incremental improvements to NASCOM continued. High-speed data terminals were implemented across the world, new communications control centers and backup centers were established, lines were upgraded to support higher data rates, DSN stations were integrated into the teletype switching system, and a video control center was stood up in Sydney to switch between antennas and process color signals for television broadcast.
In July 1967, the Tracking and Data Systems Directorate was split, and NASCOM became part of the new Manned Spaceflight Support Directorate...
The Spacecraft Tracking and Data (Acquisition) Network (STADAN or STDN) was established by NASA to satisfy the requirement for long-duration, highly-available space-to-ground communications. Real-time operational control and scheduling of the network was provided by the Network Operations Control Center (NOCC) at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Consisting of parabolic dish antennas and telephone switching equipment deployed around the world, the STADAN provided space-to-ground communications for approximately 15 minutes of a 90-minute orbit period. This limited contact period sufficed for unmanned spacecraft, but manned spacecraft require a much higher data collection time. In May 1971 STADAN was consolidated with the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) to form the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN)...
Public domain film from NASA, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WP9dCvsMUY?t=001