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Tidbinbilla team at Parkes for Apollo 12


 

During the Apollo Program, Engineers and Technicians
from Tidbinbilla regularly spent time at Parkes.

At Parkes for Apollo 12

Part of the team who supported Apollo 12 at Parkes, standing in the shadow of the dish – November 1969.

Bruce Window led a team from Tidbinbilla to support Apollo 12 using the Parkes Radio Telescope. The Tidbinbilla people were all contractors of SpaceTrack Pty Ltd.

Left to Right:

1. Roy Stewart (Engineer in Charge of SpaceTrack staff)
2. Harry Westwood (Recorder/Instrumentation Senior Technician, SpaceTrack P/L)
3. Dennis Gill, CSIRO
4. John Shimmins, CSIRO
5. Peter O’Donahue sitting on Tidbinbilla car bonnet.
6. David Cooke CSIRO
7. Jack Dickinson (RF Senior Technician, SpaceTrack P/L)
8. ?? CSIRO
8. ?? CSIRO
10. ?? CSIRO
11. Dr John Bolton CSIRO, Director of Parkes.

On the left, note the recently-completed concrete ‘jacket’ – added between Apollos 11 and 12 – to strengthen the Parkes structure. During the wind storm which hit as the Apollo 11 EVA began, there had been real fears for the integrity of the 1000 tonne radio telescope.

Photo, scan and names by Bruce Window.


At Parkes for Apollo 12

The Tidbinbilla team in the Control Room at Parkes during Apollo 12, November 1969.

Left to right: CSIRO?, Harry Westwood, Peter O’Donahue, Jack Dickinson the Receiver Operator, Bruce Window.

Bruce Window adds,

“The equipment was a standard MSFN receiver, an auxiliary rack that had test equipment, a SDDS (demod) rack, there was comms equipment for the demodulated downlink outputs to be fed to the microwave link, intercom (DSN Tactical Intercom [TIC]), and there were three recorder racks (one containing Ampex FR1100 I think for recording TLM and Voice) and a videotape desk with 2 Ampex (I think) Video Tape Recorders to record the video.”

Photo © CSIRO/ATNF, used with permission, courtesy John Sarkissian.


At Parkes for Apollo 12

The Tidbinbilla team in the Control Room at Parkes during Apollo 12, November 1969 – Looking from the top of the stairs.

Photo © CSIRO/ATNF, courtesy John Sarkissian.


At Parkes for Apollo 12

The Tidbinbilla team in the Control Room at Parkes during Apollo 12, November 1969.

Note the VR-660 video recorder and TV screen at left.

Harry Westwood wrote in 2007,

“I do remember the VR 660s very well. Before that I had worked on the Ampex 800 and 900 types and the 660 was a welcome relief!

We had a coms tech, Mal Lee very practical chap, he modified the Sony monitor we had to give us colour from the [Field Sequential Color] tapes, a bit disappointing really for the only colour to be seen was from the astronauts badges, all the rest was varying shades of grey.

I was watching the monitor when the astronaut burned the video imager by directing the camera at the sun – and gave the camera a friendly tap with a hammer and that was it!”

Photo © CSIRO/ATNF, courtesy John Sarkissian.


At Parkes for Apollo 12

The Tidbinbilla team in the Control Room at Parkes during Apollo 12, November 1969.

Photos © CSIRO/ATNF, courtesy John Sarkissian.


At Parkes for Apollo 12

The Tidbinbilla team in the Control Room at Parkes during Apollo 12, November 1969.

Harry Westwood stands at the Recorder. Seated, at right, is Roy Stewart, the SpaceTrack senior representative at the site for the mission. Roy was a Field Engineer in charge of the DIS (computers) at Tidbinbilla.

Photos © CSIRO/ATNF, courtesy John Sarkissian.
Thanks to Bruce Window for help with the names.


 

Also see the Parkes section.