FORT IRWIN Wind turbines may become part of the landscape among the high powered antennas out at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the future, but the project is on hold for now.

Military officials are conducting tests due to concerns that the wind turbines may interfere with military activity in the area, according to Dennis Mullen, energy conservation manager at Goldstone.

The project, which was proposed four years ago, includes constructing two or three wind turbines that would generate between three and four megawatts of electricity per hour, according to Peter Robles, environmental health and safety facility manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The towers would be located behind the Echo antenna at a site called Goldstone Hill.

"The wind there is pretty good," said Robles.

According to Lance Toyofuku, director of public works at Fort Irwin, military officials were concerned about how the wind turbines might impact testing conducted by the Air Force in nearby restricted use airspace, otherwise known as R-2508.

More specifically, NASA officials believe that the turbines may create a static wind frequency that may interfere with military radar use. The area is used for training by Fort Irwin, but also by Edwards Air Force Base and the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, said Robles.

Navy officials have been conducting tests at China Lake to determine if the renewable wind project can move forward.

If the studies go as planned, Robles said he hopes to be able to award a contract to a builder by the end of 2009.
The main purpose of the wind turbines would be to power the six deep space antennas at Goldstone and to function like a battery during satellite tracking missions especially in case of a black-out.

"Those wind turbines will give us the back-up that we need," said Robles.

Most missions require about one or one-and-a-half megawatts of power, he noted, even if using only a few of the antennas.

The megawatts generated by the proposed wind turbines would power up to 1,000 homes, Robles said.

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