The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, located in the Mojave Desert, is the site for the Mars Deep Space Station 14 (DSS 14) a 229 foot diameter antenna that tracks spacecraft. Its most eye-catching element is its parabolic dish, weighing nearly 4,000,000 pounds. For the STEM minded, tours are available through the Goldstone website: www.gdscc.nasa.gov.
Repairs to the hydrostatic bearing supporting the antenna, required lifting the dish raising it and then dropping it down onto three temporary, 40-foot-tall support legs.
Our team was contracted by the structural engineer to assess if three existing temporary support foundations, used to support the antenna when it was 64-meters in diameter, could now be used to support the enlarged antenna while repairs were made.
The performance of the antenna was critical, and height movement was restricted within 1/8”. We recommended that the temporary support foundation movement be measured at all three supports during full dead loading. Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT) displacement transducers or similar instrumentation was suggested to be installed during initial loading up to the full dead weight, to measure temporary support foundation displacement relative to the DSS 14 permanent reinforced concrete base. This instrumentation is expected to have a relatively low cost compared to the cost of the antenna and risk of this operation.