When in the 1950s NASA engineers were looking for a place to create a network of large radio antennas, they were guided by a quiet location. It was planned to build a series of antennas with giant parabolic dishes and receivers that can record extremely weak radio signals.
They settled in a remote area of the Mojave Desert near the ghost town of Goldstone, where there was no interference from power lines or commercial radio and television transmitters.
The first antenna was called Pioneer Station. It reached 26 meters and began receiving data from the Pioneer 3 mission in 1958. The station was suspended in 1981 after servicing several high-profile NASA missions, including Apollo, Mariner, Viking and Voyager. In 1985, the station was declared a National Historic Landmark.
The largest and most sensitive antenna in the complex is at Mars station. It covers 70 m, is pulled out to a height of 24 floors and weighs 7.2 million kg. One of its satellites is used to communicate with Voyager-1 - a distant spacecraft, launched in 1977. Now it is 21 billion km away from Earth (the most distant artificial object). Echo Station is a modern administrative center of the complex. It was created in 1959 and was named after the early experiments with the Echo-1 communication ball. The metal ball (the first communications satellite) climbed 1600 km and transmitted radio and radar signals between the antenna at Echo station and its host in New Jersey.
Gemini Station was named after the twin stars in the constellation Gemini. The antennas were originally created at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and transferred to NASA in 1994. The first mission was called SOHO (Solar Heliospheric Observatory).
The Goldstone complex is one of three objects in the NASA space network. The same stations can be found in Madrid (Spain) and near Canberra (Australia). Their location allows you to maintain constant communication with spacecraft as the Earth rotates.