Kevyn Westbrook

Muchea, Carnarvon, Deakin NASCOM Communications Centre

(These are the first four parts of a series still in the editing stage.)

Kevyn Westbrook

Official PMG photo of Kevyn Westbrook, taken during the Installation of the Bunbury, Western Australia, Semi-automatic Trunk Exchange in 1960.

Thanks to John Westbrook, scan by Colin Mackellar.

Part 1 – Before Muchea

audio part 1 (45 minutes, 16MB mp3 file)

Growing up on a farm 28 miles outside of Merredin in Western Australia – looking inside a radio for the first time.

First jobs, gaining a position in the PMG.

Moving to Melbourne.

Return to Perth.

Applying for a job in the “Man in Space” Programme at the new tracking station at Muchea in 1960.

Kevyn Westbrook at Muchea

Kevyn Westbrook, arrowed, at Muchea, January 1961.
(More photos here.)

Part 2 – Muchea Mercury Space Tracking Network Station no. 8

audio part 2 (53 minutes, 20.5MB mp3 file)

00:00 First day at Muchea.

07:20 Gerry O’Connor.

07:47 The air/ground antennae.

09:08 Finding source of noise using an NF-105 (Noise & Field Intensity Meter, made by Empire Devices, Amsterdam, NY.).

11:45 Wild life – snakes and mice.

14:10 Western Electric Installation Engineer, Herman Barrier.

18:40 PMG Model 28 teletypes, PMG Tech Peter Saw.

19:41 Indian Ocean Ship voice and teletype radio circuit.

21:00 OTC and problems with a log-periodic antenna.

26:07 The pressure on everyone.

29:07 Atomic bomb – possibly the Starfish Prime experimental detonation, on 09 July 1962.

30:36 Landlines from Muchea to Perth to Adelaide – vulnerabilities.

33:40 A constant concern – what might fail.

37:00 Taking communications for granted.

38:20 Layout of the Muchea building.

39:30 Scripts for simulations.

41:30 Caught in pyjamas – Kevyn, Gus Pugh and Gerry O’Connor.

43:25 When the Verlort achieved track – put Data to Line.

45:00 What happened during a manned pass.

50:20 Rules and the Station Director.

Kevyn Westbrook at Muchea

Kevyn Westbrook in the Comms room at Muchea, 1961.

Kevyn Westbrook at Muchea

Kevyn Westbrook, arrowed, at a conference for the Mercury Space Tracking Network’s Ground Communication Controllers.

Mike Dinn spotted George Jenkins, third from the left in the front row. George was at MILA (Deputy Director?).

Does anyone recognise others in this photo, or know where it was taken? Goddard? Contact.

(Handwritten on the back appears to say:
Front: Rob Cranne ZZB [Zanzibar], J. Anderson.)

Large, Larger.

Photo preserved by Kevyn Westbrook. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

Part 3 – Muchea and The Australian Fault Net

audio part 3 (7 minutes 22 seconds, 3.3MB mp3 file)

00:00 Genesis of The Australian Fault Net during Mercury.

05:10 During Apollo 11 EVA TV, and Charlie Goodman.

Part 4 – Muchea and the Astronauts

audio part 4 (8 minutes 23 seconds, 3.5MB mp3 file)

00:00 The Press coming out to the station. (brief mention)

01:05 Scott Carpenter.

02:53 Wally Schirra.

04:07 Gordon Cooper.

(Kevyn mentions Gordon Cooper and RAAF Flight Surgeon Wing Commander Dr. Warren Bishop. During his second pass over Muchea on his Faith 7 flight in May 1963, Cooper sent a cheerio call to Bishop. Audio here.)

Tom Risher and Gordon Cooper

On the way home from serving as Capcom at Muchea for Friendship 7, Gordon Cooper chats with friend Maj. Tom Risher at the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at Laverton, Victoria.

Major Risher USAF was serving as an exchange test pilot at ARDU. He knew Cooper from the Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB.

Cooper is standing on the wing of a Winjeel, built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Scan: Mike Dinn.

Tom Risher and Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper and Tom Risher at ARDU at Laverton, 1962.
Scan: Mike Dinn.

Tom Risher and Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper and Tom Risher at ARDU at Laverton, 1962.
Scan: Mike Dinn.


Kevyn Westbrook

Kevyn Westbrook in 1970, with the classic Snoopy doll.

Thanks to John Westbrook, scan by Colin Mackellar.


More to come soon.

Interviews recorded by Colin Mackellar, January 2012.
Edited by Colin Mackellar.

With grateful thanks to, and in loving memory of, Kevyn Westbrook.