Jan Delgado – at Island Lagoon



Jan Delgado

Jan Delgado in 2008.

I was at Business College in Adelaide in 1962 when I heard there was a vacancy for a Teletype Operator at the HQ building at Island lagoon. I applied and got the job. I cannot remember any particular TTYs I received but I do remember receiving information from JPL that Lee Harvey Oswald (Kennedy’s assassin) had been shot!

I also remember one evening when I was almost attacked by a brown snake as I went outside to return my dinner tray to the canteen. As the desert cooled down at night, so the snakes were attracted to the warmth of the buildings. I dropped the tray and fled!

Later, a Teletype Operator vacancy arose at Minitrack and I transferred there. I was now working with a team on round the clock shifts. I received reams of predictions of satellite positions (az/el etc.) and other technical information. Then I sent the data received from satellites and other relevant information to GSFC. Also had links to JPL and the communications centre in Adelaide (I think they acted as a relay centre) and spent quiet periods chatting to the operators (early form of chat room!!). Our links with JPL and Goddard were subject to radio propagation and sometimes a message being received would slow down, garble or completely stop. The line would also run ‘open’, similar to hitting the Shift key on a typewriter very rapidly.

We were transported by bus on the day shift and by car on the afternoon and night shifts. I will never forget the millions of stars you could see outside on the night shift. I left in 1965. Looking back, it was a wonderful experience – such ‘final frontier’ stuff, played out on an ancient land.

Island Lagoon

Jan writes:
There was a different access to Island Lagoon in the early days. The road came in from the North West and you can still see it on Google Earth. It departs from what became the main road into Island Lagoon soon after the turn off from the Stuart Highway.  Anyway, that is the road you can see in this picture taken in 1960. That is my mother peering out of the VW rear window.

Photo: Pat Delgado.


Island Lagoon

Jan writes:
This is looking down from the dish: I am on the right in the shorts and a friend on the left. Mum is in a yellow dress on the ground.

Photo: Pat Delgado.


Jan Delgado

Island Lagoon Minitrack Control Room.

The Teletype section in the control room (that’s me!).

Scan and note: Jan Delgado.

 


New photos from 1963 slides

Jan Delgado

Island Lagoon HQ Teletype Room.

I worked there before I went to Minitrack. The machine at the back was the teletype to Adelaide and those on the right hand side were the receive and transmission machines to JPL.

Photo: Jan Delgado.


Jan Delgado

HQ Island Lagoon was the first group of buildings you came to before either turning left to DSIF 41 or right to Minitrack. You can see the road to Minitrack behind the car.

The people are another power house operator and a Commonwealth driver. We were picked up from home in Woomera and taken out to Island Lagoon for our shifts.

Photo and text: Jan Delgado. Larger version, largest version.


Jan Delgado

This picture includes me with a wild cat.

Photo and text: Jan Delgado. Larger version, largest version.


Island Lagoon

At the turnoff to Island Lagoon.

Jan writes:

The turn off to Island Lagoon was on the Stuart Highway about 15 miles from Woomera. That sign is no longer there.

Dick Roberts worked at the Adelaide Comcen and we frequently chatted on the teletype during the long evening and night shifts and got to know each other quite well. He visited us in Woomera and vice versa in Adelaide.

Photo: Jan Delgado. Larger version. Largest version. (On the largest version, not the DSS41 collimation tower in the distance, just above the MG’s radio aerial.)


Island Lagoon

Jan writes:
The little MG sports car belonged to one of the power house operators at DSIF 41 and when he went away for a while he asked me to look after it. I did.... willingly!


Island Lagoon

This sign is after the turnoff – on the access road to Island Lagoon.


Jan Delgado

Dick Roberts in the Minitrack field.

Photo: Jan Delgado.