DSS-41 Island Lagoon Last Days




Island Lagoon’s last operational track was on 22 December 1972 – due to restructuring of NASA’s tracking stations in Australia – and the high cost of maintaining such a large station in a very remote location.

As the Manned Space Flight Network was to close at the end of the Apollo missions, Honeysuckle Creek was left without a future. At this point, the sad decision was made to close Island Lagoon and to transfer much of its equipment to Honeysuckle as part of that station’s transformation for the Deep Space Network.

The DSS-41 antenna was sold for scrap, leaving memories of pioneering space exploration.

John Heath writes,

“Our last operational track was on December 22 1972.

The date that DSS 41 ceased to exist as a part of the Deep Space Network (DSN) was Friday May 4 1973.

That was the date that I went into the main operations building, had a last look around the virtually empty control room and comms centre that had been stripped of all their electronic equipment, then my office, which was still fully furnished, before heading for the power house to turn off the diesel generator that had been supplying electrical power to the station.

As the lights dimmed I returned to my car, where my wife and children were waiting, drove out through the station gates for the last time, and instead of turning left for Woomera when we reached the main Woomera to Port August road which is what I had done for the past four years, we turned right for Adelaide and Canberra and an uncertain future, as at that time I had no job to go to.

I remember that day as though it were yesterday as, in addition to it being the last day of DSS 41 as part of the DSN, it was also the last day of my almost ten years involvement in space tracking – something I am proud and feel very privileged to have been part of.”

 

Derek Bee has contributed these sad reminders of DSS41’s last days —

Island Lagoon for sale

The Island Lagoon Farewell Dinner, November 1972.

Preserved and scanned by Derek Bee.


Island Lagoon for sale

Dish for Sale

A very sad notice in the newspaper, late 1972.

Preserved by Derek Bee.


Island Lagoon for sale

“And crows nest in costly gear”

This article, from an unidentified newspaper, tells the story of the cost of the closure of Island Lagoon.

The smaller clipping at the top has the “For Sale” notice (see above).

Preserved by Derek Bee.


Island Lagoon for sale

“Woomera Shuts an Eye”

Another newspaper article on the impending closure of Island Lagoon.

Preserved by Derek Bee.


Island Lagoon for sale

“The Island ends operations”

A story from the Gibber Gabber Annual, 1973.

Preserved by Derek Bee.

 

And John Heath contributes the station’s last Christmas card.

Island Lagoon for sale

Final Christmas Card

December 1972.

Preserved and scanned by John Heath.


Island Lagoon for sale

Inside of the final Christmas Card

December 1972.

Preserved and scanned by John Heath.