Honeysuckle Closes

The end of an era came in 1981. Honeysuckle Creek was closed.

Economics and Honeysuckle’s isolated location meant that it made sense to consolidate the work at the Deep Space Station at Tidbinbilla.

The antenna was dismantled and moved to Tidbinbilla, where it became Deep Space antenna 46.

Hamish Lindsay writes –

“Honeysuckle Creek finally closed its doors in November, 1981 and simply faded away. There were no farewells, no speeches, no parties, no wakes. All the equipment was removed, we pulled the last of the cables out, and walked out the door.

During its short but glorious life, Honeysuckle Creek distinguished itself as a top station around the world in two completely different spheres as a Manned Space Flight Station and then as a Deep Space Station.”


Tony Gerada writes –

“We were in the same shift, a few other techs and me in the Ops chair, which supported the last HSK track. I still have a recording getting a briefing from Track and Tracking etc.”


You can hear Tony on this recording he has supplied of part of Honeysuckle’s last track – of Pioneer 12. (The file is a 1.9Mb mp3 file.)

Tony also writes –

“As Hamish said, there was no party, wake, all we did was we played the Last Post at the end of track, very sad, with Tom Reid looking on. We’re trying to remember who else was on shift that day, I know Paul Mullen did the front end of business, not forgetting the security guard and the power house operator.”

Honeysuckle Creek, DSS 44, chalked up these figures for Deep Space operations in the year 1979 alone –

Number of scheduled operations – 894
Total Support hours – 6,208
Radio Science hours – 621.5
Figures compiled by John Saxon on 8 January 1980.


At the shutdown, Honeysuckle’s final Station Director, Ian Grant, sent this TWX (Network message) to many with whom the Honeysuckle team had worked over the years:


Last days

Click the image for a PDF file.
With thanks to Ian Grant for the copy.