From the Winter 1959 Issue of the Collins Signal magazine.
SPACE PROBE COMMUNICATION

New Puerto Rican facility joins Goldstone station in tracking network.

Initial Trajectory of the Army's first space probe, launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in December under the direction of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was determined by a new down-range tracking facility located at Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Designed and constructed by Collins under subcontract from the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the new facility tracked the probe until it fell below the horizon as viewed from Puerto Rico.

Tracking was made possible by means of a low powered beacon transmitter in the probe, which also emitted telemetry signals picked up by the sensitive receiving equipment at the Puerto Rico station. This station is capable of tracking space vehicles with very low power beacon transmitters out to more than 50,000 miles.

Dr. William H. Pickering, Director of JPL, paid tribute to the Puerto Rico crew for their “remarkable achievement in maintaining contact with the space probe even though the probe at one point was only 2.5 degrees above the horizon at Puerto Rico.”

Information received from the probe at Puerto Rico was processed and relayed to JPL at Pasadena and on to a larger tracking facility located at Goldstone Lake, Calif. The Goldstone facility, which utilizes an 85-foot dish antenna, tracked the space vehicle after it passed over the horizon at Puerto Rico.


Tracking of the Army's space probe during its initial trajectory
was accomplished with this dish antenna at the down-range
station at Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. This new trading facility,
capable of tracking space vehicles over 50,000 miles,
followed the probe until it passed below the horizon.

Telemetry, time encoding, graphical data recorders,
associated equipmentand test facilities
were compactly housed in one of four trailers.

In addition to providing the complete Puerto Rico station, Collins also supplied all the major equipment, except the 85-foot reflector, mount and hydraulic servo mechanism, for the Goldstone facility, which is capable of tracking space vehicles with beacon transmitters of very low power over 400,000 miles. Equipment provided by Collins included highly sensitive tracking receivers, 15 racks of data display, telemetry, instrumentation, recording equipment and the control console, plus antenna feeds and the servo amplifier, for the reflector mount. Collins also supplied buildings and access roads. All four of Collins' major divisions contributed to the program, which was accomplished within six months.

For more than a decade Collins engineers and scientists have been exploring radio problems associated with the upper reaches of the atmosphere and space beyond. The Company is currently engaged in the design and construction of two ultra lightweight, high stability space vehicle transmitters, which will be used to relay data on radiation, gravitation forces, temperatures and other information relating to the flight of vehicles through outer space.


Goldstone Antenna.

Research is also continuing at Collins in space navigation, radiowave propagation, payload instrumentation and electronic systems applicable to various programs sponsored by military and governmental agencies.

Collins Signal, Issue 35, Volume 7-3, 1959