Mars traffic jams could overwhelm NASA’s Deep Space Network

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2011
Reaction score
There's one I didn't think about. But then I'm not in the industry.
Mars traffic jams could overwhelm NASA’s Deep Space Network
by Leonard David — May 2, 2017
An international flotilla of new spacecraft — orbiters and landers — is slated to arrive at Mars in 2021, creating an unprecedented telecommunications challenge for NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).
These spacecraft all need to communicate with Earth en route to Mars, requiring large amounts of telemetry and tracking after launch and then on approach to the red planet. The sheer number of Mars-bound craft, launched by multiple nations, may stress NASA’s ground tracking network and capabilities of international partners.
Outbound traffic
That list of Mars missions launching in 2020 is long.
It may end up that mission control for the Deep Space Network (DSN) takes on the role of "air traffic control" and anyone who wants to use the DSN has to first request access. Most likely that can be automated with some new "hailing frequency" protocols, but changing or establishing new communications protocols this close to launch might force some of those launches to bump to the next launch window (a 3 year bump).