Uplink-Downlink: A History of the Deep Space Network 1957-1997.

Author:Schier, James
Position:Book review

Uplink-Downlink: A History of the Deep Space Network 1957-1997. By Douglas Mudgway. Washington, D.C.: NASA, 2001 [NASA History Series SP-2001-4227]. Maps. Tables. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Index. Pp. xlviii, 674. Free online at http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4227/UplinkDownlink.pdf. $26.00. GPO Stock Number #033-000-01241-1

The Deep Space Network (DSN) is the global system developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under contract to NASA to provide communications with interplanetary spacecraft. Douglas Mudgway emigrated from Australia to the United States to work for JPL in the early 1960s and became one of the key DSN designers for the next four decades. Uplink-Downlink (terms referring to the command link from Earth to spacecraft and the telemetry link from spacecraft back to Earth, respectively) captures in great detail the evolution of this system during its first 40 years. This book is not a history in the conventional sense of presenting an analysis of people, places, events, and impacts of this key part of the U.S. space program. It is instead engineering archaeology, describing the architecture and design of the constituent components and subsystems of the DSN as they changed over time to meet the exponentially increasing demands of spacecraft as they went deeper and deeper into the solar system and sent back growing amounts of data.

The book's chapters are based on the flagship missions that drove major improvements in DSN performance: Genesis (1957-61) covering the initial lunar probes, the Mariner era (1961-74), the Viking era (1974-1978), the Voyager era (1978-1986), the Galileo era (1986-96), and the Cassini era (1996-97+). Each chapter covers key technical characteristics of the missions that drove DSN performance and operation of the network with an overview of network design suitable for non-engineers. The chapters then dive into network engineering at a level of detail that would interest--and be comprehensible to--a communication engineer. Additional chapters delve into the technologies behind DSN and its secondary purpose as a scientific instrument. Mudgway concludes with a chapter that shows how the institutional organization evolved to meet the...

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