Honeysuckle becomes DSS-44 in the Deep Space Network

After the highly successful and complex Skylab missions, Honeysuckle was no longer needed for Manned Space Flight Support.

The decision was made to add Honeysuckle to the Deep Space Network as Deep Space Station number 44 (DSS-44). This involved a major refit of the station.

Mike Dinn recalls –

“A lot of the DSN equipment came from DSS41 – Woomera – Island Lagoon as it closed down.”

And John Saxon adds,

“Some of the other DSN equipment came from the DSN site at Hartebeesthoek in South Africa.”

A new role

Honeysuckle’s new role.

This piece was written for the Department of Supply’s newsletter, SCODOS.

Thanks to Milton Turner. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

Paraboloid Survey of the dish for the Deep Space era – August 1974.

Hamish Lindsay writes –

“In 1974 we adjusted every antenna plate to 5 – 10 thousandth of an inch to make a true parabola for maximum signal direction to the subreflector for the Deep Space era. The feedcone was removed and my theodolite was bolted to a special bracket (seen in the photo) to measure the four corners of each plate.”

Paraboloid survey

Note the theodolite at the bottom of the picture.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

John Hart and Tony Salvage

Hamish Lindsay took this photo from the Apex, looking down on John Hart with the theodolite (centre) and Tony Salvage (white overalls).

Photo: Hamish Lindsay. 2022 scan: Colin Mackellar.

John Hart and Tony Salvage

A close up of the theodolite in position with John Hart (left) discussing the survey with Tony Salvage.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

Len Litherland

25th July 1974.

Down comes the feed-cone – possibly to facilitate the Paraboloid survey.

At the same time, equipment no longer needed is being removed.

In the centre of the photo, Paul Hutchinson (white overalls) is stabilising the station’s Univac 1232 on a forklift as it is about to join other computer hardware on the flat bed truck. It is apparently destined for Orroral Valley.

This photo is taken from the loading dock.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay. Scan of 8x10 print: Colin Mackellar.

empty usb area

After we left the Manned Space Flight Network the station was stripped completely bare of all the equipment and cables (except the antenna servo console seen looking lonely by the window).

In this picture of the USB area the underfloor cable and air conditioning plenum and 609.6mm square floor tiles can be seen under Stirling Finlay (USB) on the left and Charlie Collins (Comms), talking because there was nothing else to do.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

Deep Space console

“The first Deep Space operations console with Laurie Turner in the chair, Paul Mullen at the servo and Terry Hearn on the receivers. Later the console was enlarged and placed closer to the servo console.”

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

Deep Space console

Here’s the expanded Ops console in its new location.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

Deep Space console

Here’s another, probably later, view of the DSN Ops Console.

Transparency: Hamish Lindsay. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

Deep Space console

“A slide I took of the final Deep Space layout of the Ops area to go with the DSS pictures, after the initial layout with Laurie Turner at the console [as seen further above].

In the foreground Martin Geasley, shift supervisor, is sitting while John Hart is talking on the phone. Behind is Albert Lewis on the Servo Console and Paul Mullen is sitting at the Receivers.”

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

Deep Space setup

“A 35mm slide wide angle view looking right down the equipment room from the west end (what used to be the Computer Room) towards the east and the servo window in the distance in the first phase of the deep space era.”

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.

conversion to DSN

This photo is taken looking the other way, with the Servo window behind the camera. The Receivers are on the left, and the old location of the Ops Desk is at the far end on the right.

Phil Maier writes,

“I found this photo of the mess at HSK/DSS-44 taken on 13 September 1974 during the conversion.

I think I see Les Hughes, Neville Eyre and Tony Salvage in the background. The soon to be DSN Ops desk is in the RH foreground.”

Large, Larger. Photo and scan: Phil Maier.

Deep Space setup

This transparency, also by Hamish Lindsay, shows almost the same view, once everything is in place.

Scan: Colin Mackellar.


From time to time, Honeysuckle was called on to help with radioastronomy.

Hamish Lindsay writes –

“During the Deep Space era HSK used to fill in time helping Dick Manchester of the CSIRO to track the Vela Pulsar. To us this was very easy tracking because it was only a downlink so it was all within the USB section. PSR 0833-45, or Vela, was a pulsar in the Gum Nebula with a period of 89.3 milliseconds. The Gum Nebula is the remnant of a supernova that occured over 10,000 years ago with a diameter of 2,300 light years.”

and Radio Astronomer Dick Manchester writes –

“Timing the Vela pulsar is interesting because the period has unpredictable ‘glitches’ every few years, where the period suddenly decreases by about a part in a million. This is actually a huge change by the standards we measure pulsar periods to. The details of the glitch and its recovery give information on the interior of the neutron star.

The NASA stations were ideal for this as you need regular observations (at least weekly) with a stable system. It was difficult to get that at Parkes as it is scheduled in bigger blocks (with bigger gaps between pulsar sessions) and has different receivers at different times. (Actually, we can now change receivers quickly with a translator system, so that is not such a big problem.)”

letter of commendation

Shortly after Honeysuckle joined the Deep Space Network, this Letter of Commendation was received from Andre Caticchio at JPL.

“Mr D. Gray, Mr J. Saxon and the entire crew of DSS44 should be commended for their total professionalism in the tasks they performed.”

Scan by Hamish Lindsay.