Latest News


 

25 May 2017

We’re very sad to report the death of Neil “Fox” Mason, this week, at Parkes.

Fox was well known to many trackers, and was the Telescope Driver at Parkes, most famously during the Apollo 11 EVA.

While, of course, being focussed on the radio astronomy work of Parkes, Neil spoke with pride and fondness of his work with the space trackers – especially those who were at Parkes during Apollo 11 and the J missions.

He will be sadly missed.

Fox was interviewed for “One Small Step, The Australian Story”, in 2009.

Fox Mason

Neil “Fox” Mason at Parkes in July 2014.
Photo by Colin Mackellar.

 

06 June 2016

The 40th Anniversary of the Viking 1 landing on Mars is coming up next month (July 2016).

Rachel Tillman from The Viking Mars Missions Education and Preservation Project is keen to contact trackers (and others) who were involved in supporting the wonderful Viking Project.

Viking 40th

For more info contact:

Rachel Tillman
Founder / Director / Daughter of Viking
The Viking Mars Missions Education and Preservation Project
http://www.thevikingpreservationproject.org
https://www.facebook.com/VikingMarsMission
https://twitter.com/MarsVikingTeam

 

01 March 2016

We’re very sad to report the death of Cliff Smith at Parkes on 25th February 2016.

John Sarkissian writes:

“Cliff worked at the telescope from its inception. He helped build the telescope and was at the opening ceremony on 31 October 1961 where, among other duties, he was responsible for unfurling the Australian flag at the top of the focus cabin. He was the site foreman for many years before he retired in 1986.

On 21 July 1969, he was one of the people present at Parkes for the historic Apollo 11 moonwalk. Cliff was responsible for the mechanical operation of the dish and was prepared to hand-crank the dish to track Apollo 11 on the Moon in case of a power failure.”

Cliff Smith

Cliff Smith, as interviewed for the 2009 documentary “One Small Step: The Australian Story”. (Youtube.)

Image courtesy Freehand International Pty. Ltd.
Image capture by Colin Mackellar.


Many trackers from Honeysuckle and Tidbinbilla worked with Cliff during Parkes’ support of the Apollo missions. We were delighted that Cliff was able to join us in Canberra for the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 on 21st July 2014.

Cliff Smith

Cliff Smith, left, with Ben Lam (Parkes), John Saxon (Honeysuckle) and Neil ‘Fox’ Mason (Parkes) at the Apollo 11 45th anniversary luncheon in Canberra, 21st July 2014.
Photo: John Sarkissian.


Cliff Smith

Cliff Smith at the Parkes opening ceremony, 31st October 1961. At left, facing the camera, is Governor-General Lord De L’Isle.

CSIRO photo via John Sarkissian.


Cliff Smith

Cliff Smith (left) and Ben Lam working on the Azimuth Track bolts at Parkes, 1960s. CSIRO photo via John Sarkissian.



Photo of the Parkes dish by Keith Aldworth.

 

12 February 2016

The ACT Heritage Council has granted the Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley sites heritage status.

Here’s a report from the ABC.

Earlier, related story, from the ABC: Dishing the dirt on moon landing – 22 July 2009.

 

30 December 2014

SAVE THE DATE!

TIDBINBILLA 50th ANNIVERSARY IN-HOUSE EVENT – THURSDAY 19th MARCH 2015


News

News
(Click the image for a version with names.)

From Glen Nagle at CDSCC –

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) will be holding a lunch and celebratory event marking the 50th anniversary of the official opening of the Tidbinbilla tracking station on Thursday 19th March 2015 – 11:00am to 2:00pm.

We would like to invite ex-employees of the Tidbinbilla facility to join current staff and management for an in-house event to mark this milestone.

There will be a few speeches (of course!) but mostly a chance to get together over lunch, to retell funny stories, recall amazing history-making moments and join with fellow Tidbinbilla alumni to reminisce about the incredible times we’ve shared over the past 50 years.

To help us plan the event and get an idea of the numbers we can possibly expect, we invite you to add your name and contact details, plus a little information on your role at Tidbinbilla on a special Google document page we have set up.

If you think you are interested in or likely to attend the anniversary event at CDSCC, please contact Colin Mackellar for the link to reply to the event.

As we develop our event plan, we will send out further information by email.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email – pr@cdscc.nasa.gov

We look forward to hearing from you.

Regards
Glen Nagle
Event Coordinator



17 November 2014

Conversations

Mike Dinn ABC Radio interview.

Mike was interviewed by Richard Fidler on his Conversations programme on ABC Radio across Australia on Wednesday 12th November 2014.

Listen here. (Also linked from Mike’s page.)



28 April 2014

See the invitation for the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on Monday 21st July. PDF file.

01 February 2014

All Apollo trackers – the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing is coming up on Monday 21st July.

There are discussions on a low key (perhaps informal) gathering in Canberra on the day – around lunchtime. If you’re interested, please mark it on your calendar now.

 

07 October 2013

There is sad news today that Kevyn Westbrook has died in Canberra.

Kevyn was a veteran of Muchea, where he was the Communications Supervisor during Project Mercury. He was closely involved in the installation of Carnarvon, before leading the installation and operation of the Australian NASCOM Switch at Deakin for Apollo.

Kevyn was so kind as to record a number of interviews for this website, and we hope to make them available in the not-too-distant future.

Kevyn Westbrook at Muchea

Kevyn Westbrook in the Comms room at Muchea, 1961.


Lees and Westbrooks

Ken & Liz Lee (left) chat with Kevyn and Joan Westbrook at the opening of Honeysuckle Creek, 17th March 1967.


Kevyn Westbrook

Kevyn with Hamish Lindsay and Colin Mackellar, February 2012.
Photo: John Saxon.

 

12 August 2013

Added a tribute to Australian Science Broadcast Peter Pockley.

 

04 March 2013

Coming up on Saturday April 13, 2013, DSS43 40th anniversary celebrations at Tidbinbilla.

 

01 August 2012

Philip Clark has been hard at work on his book on Orroral Valley Tracking Station. At about 450 pages, with over 500 photos and illustrations, 123 in colour, “Acquisition” should be the definitive work on ORR. The foreword is by the Governor General of Australia, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO.

It’s hoped the book will be launched in the next few weeks. Philip writes:

“At this time the price will probably be about $59.95 but this is subject to final printing. Packing and shipping outside the Canberra area but within Australia will be around $12.50.”

The book launch will be on Wednesday 3 October at 2:00 pm in the ACT Legislative Assembly building, Civic Square, Canberra.

Update 04 October:

It’s now available from Philip Clark at philclark@iprimus.com.au. – and also from a number of bookshops in Canberra, including Questcon and the National Library bookshops.


01 November 2011

Tom Sheehan has pointed out a terrific article on the founding of the Manned Spacecraft Center, 50 years ago – it’s in the October 2011 issue of JSC’s ‘Roundup’. It’s a 12MB PDF file available here. (Direct link to PDF.)

High resolution versions of the photos used on the article can be found here. (Thanks to Syd Buxton for the link.)

 

25 May 2011

Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt and former Senator has called for NASA to be replaced by a “new agency, the National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA), [to] be charged with specifically enabling America’s and its partners’ exploration of deep space”.

A collection of his writings on US directions in space is entitled “Space Policy and the Constitution”, and it has a Foreword by former NASA Adminstrator Michael Griffin. It’s available on his website and also here as a 2.2MB PDF file. The call for a new agency is in the Preface, on page 11 of the PDF (or page xi of the document.)

 

25 May 2010 – AIAA event at Tidbinbilla

AIAA Booklet

This booklet was produced by The American Insititute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for the event at Tidbinbilla on 25th May 2010.

Click the image above to download a 2.2MB PDF file. (Thanks to Glen Nagle for this copy.)


 

17 May 2010 – Honeysuckle Creek, Tidbinbilla and Orroral Valley to be designated as Historic Aerospace Sites

AIAA invitation

AIAA plaque

It’s been announced that The American Insititute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is designating Honeysuckle Creek, Tidbinbilla and Orroral Valley as Historic Aerospace Sites.

There’ll be a ceremony at Tidbinbilla / CDSCC on Tuesday 25th May 2010.
All are invited to attend. There’ll be a simple plaque unveiling (see above) followed by some light refreshments. Please note the RSVP date of 18th May – click on the invitation at top left for a 2MB PDF file).

From the AIAA Press Release:

“The Sydney Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is proud to announce that the Tidbinbilla, Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley Space Tracking Stations have been designated as global AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites. This is a prestigious award which recognises the significant role these three Australian tracking stations have played throughout the space-faring era, particularly in support of NASA’s manned space missions. It is a fitting tribute that these sites should be recognised in this way in 2010, the 50th anniversary of treaty-level cooperation between the Australian Government and NASA.

The AIAA established the Historic Aerospace Sites Program in 2000 to promote the preservation of, and the dissemination of information about, significant accomplishments made in the aerospace profession.
Other sites recognised by the AIAA History Technical Committee include NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; the Boeing Red Barn, Seattle, Wash.; Kitty Hawk, N.C.; the site of the first balloon launch in Annonay, France; the Royal Aircraft Research Establishment at Farnborough, England; and Tranquility Base on the moon. Currently Woomera is the only other AIAA Historic Aerospace Site in Australia.

The AIAA Sydney Section is pleased to invite you to attend a ceremony at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, Tidbinbilla, ACT, at 10am on Tuesday 25 May to formally designate the Tidbinbilla, Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley Space Tracking Stations as AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites. The sites will be formally designated and a plaque unveiled by AIAA President Mr David Thompson, founder and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation. The ceremony will also be attended by AIAA Executive Director Mr Bob Dickman (Major General, United States Air Force, retired).”



 

Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Celebrations and Reunion: Sunday 19th – Wednesday 22nd July 2009

Several days of celebrations and get-togethers for all who supported Apollo (Honeysuckle, Tidbinbilla, Carnarvon, Parkes, Orroral, NASCOM, PMG, OTC, and others further afield!) to be held in Canberra.

From John Saxon:

“On Tuesday 21 July 2009 at lunch time, it will be exactly 40 years since Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the Lunar surface. We (the ex-Apollo workers and families) intend to celebrate the event with a multi-day reunion culminating with a lunch ‘on the day on the hour’.

We already have people from the U.S.A. and U.K. who intend to come, as well as from around Australia. Realistically this may be the last occasion that a major Apollo anniversary reunion will be organised by those who were actively worked on the project.”

Events in Canberra and at Honeysuckle Creek and at Tidbinbilla comprise the Canberra Apollo celebrations.


Apollo 11 40th anniversary logo

Canberra and Honeysuckle Creek

The events, adapted from John Saxon’s website, are –

Day 1 – Sunday 19th July

Quiet catch up and pre-register at the Southern Cross Club in Woden. We’ll be there from 10am to 3 or 4pm. Come for lunch and drinks (own cost).

Day 2 – Monday 20th July

Coach or private transport to CDSCC (Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex) for several events. They include a farewell to the ex-Honeysuckle antenna due to be de-commissioned within days and Lunch. (To come, please sign up through John’s website.)

Then on to the HSK site – to dedicate a Plaque to all who worked at HSK and also bury a time capsule.

Day 3 – Tuesday 21st July

This is the signature event. Long lunch: 11am to 4pm or so! To be held in the ballroom of the Woden Southern Cross Club’s brand new ‘Events Centre’.

‘On the day on the hour’ we’ll replay the first steps on the Lunar surface using Honeysuckle’s video feed. There’ll be a souvenir DVD available and many other activities. $50 each – sign up through John’s website.

Day 4 – Wednesday 22nd July

A special showing of two Apollo movies never seen before in Australia at QUESTACON – just near Old Parliament house – Live From the Moon and The Wonder of it All. (To come, you will need to sign up through John’s website.)

Read the latest plans – and book – via John Saxon’s website

You can also send a message to John (with a copy to Colin) via this form.


Live from the Moon
Official Tidbinbilla 40th anniversary logo

Tidbinbilla

EVENT: Live from the Moon
WHEN: Monday, 20th July 2009
TIME: 10:30am to 12:30pm
WHERE: Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Ex-tracking staff and guests are invited to attend ‘Live from the Moon’ at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex on Monday 20th July 2009.

This event commencing at 10:30am will commemorate the historic first steps on the Moon in July 1969.

Speeches from representatives of Tidbinbilla, CSIRO and the United States will recognise the important role that the teams from Honeysuckle Creek, Tidbinbilla and Parkes played in the Apollo XI mission.

This will also be a time to ceremonially farewell the 26-metre antenna Deep Space Station 46 (HSK’s original DSS-44 antenna) which will end its space tracking life in August 2009. A plaque will be unveiled in its honour.

Following the ceremony, invited guests will enjoy a light lunch in the DSS46 Support Building adjacent to the antenna grounds.

A specially minted coin will also be given to attendees to commemorate this historic day.

(Ex-tracking staff and invited guests need to book through John Saxon to be a part of this event.)

Read more on the Tidbinbilla activites at the CDSCC website.


John Saxon

Monday 20th July at 7:30pm, BBC Knowledge on Foxtel / Optus.

Television events

Several TV specials and news reports are planned for the 40th anniversary. In addition to Mark Gray’s Live from the Moon – the Story of Apollo Television (being premiered at Questacon on 22nd July), One Small Step: The Australian Story has been produced for the BBC Knowledge channel and will screen on Monday 20th July at 7:30pm (and repeat screenings).

See the Foxtel website for some of the programmes planned. And some excerpts have been posted here.


Other celebrations:

Parkes

Parkes Observatory is holding Open Days 18th–19th July 2009 – Details from the Parkes website and also on the IYA website.

Perth

Carnarvon Trackers’ Reunion
CRO Trackers 40th Anniversary Reunion Dinner
Bridgeleigh Reception Centre, Wanneroo, Western Australia
Saturday, 18th July 2009 – details from Terry Kierans’s website.

Carnarvon

There’ll be activities in Carnarvon July 28–30.

Madrid

Madrid MSFN Station (Frednedillas)

A number of anniversary activities are planned. Tomas Alonso writes –

July 11th 11:00am opening of the commemorative exhibition in the “Casa de la Cultura”.
Presentation explaining the role the MSFN, and in particular the Fresnedillas Apollo station, played in the exploration of the Moon.
The exhibition will remain open until July 20th.
During the week there will be activities for the kids related with the Apollo expeditions to the Moon.

July 20th Big group, old-timers, reunion at the “Casa de la Cultura” at 11:00am. Tribute of Fresnedillas town to the people who worked at the Apollo station until it closed.
Play back of Apollo 11 documentaries, including some of the excellent moonwalk footage received at HSK.
Comments on the memories the exhibition and the documentaries bring to the people involved in the Apollo 11 mission while we have a Spanish wine with some good “aperitivos”.
Next we are planning to visit the grounds of the Fresnedillas Apollo station, today home of a Department of Defense station. This visit is not confirmed yet.
Farewell to the 26m Apollo antenna, located at MDSCC and decommissioned a few months ago.
Finally group lunch at a restaurant in Fresnedillas.”

(More details from Tomas Alonso at MDSCC.)

 

Echoes of Apollo

‘Echoes of Apollo’

Read about the proposed Moonbounce activities for World EME day (June 27th 2009) and other activites being organised by Robert Brand (ex-OTC) and Robert Brand and Pat Barthelow and friends at Echoes of Apollo.

 

Powerhouse Discovery centre at Castle Hill, Sydney

At the Discovery Centre at Castle Hill, Powerhouse Curator of Space Technology is speaking on “Apollo to the Moon: A 40th Anniversary Retrospective” – 11:30am Saturday 11th July. Details on this PDF file.

 

Space Association of Australia in Melbourne

Peter Aylward advises us of two events planned for Melbourne –

Event 1 MOVIE: The Right Stuff - Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Event.

Event 2 : Rolling Apollo 11 footage will feature on the Big Screen at Melbourne’s Federation Square across the weekend of July 18-19, 2009.

Full details at The Space Association website.


Also for your enjoyment:

For All Mankind

A Musical Tribute to Apollo 11 by Graham Smith.

Hear highlights and found out how to get it at his website – www.forallmankind.co.uk.

(Graham has kindly made his music available for the DVD being put together for the 40th anniversary lunch in Canberra.)

For All Mankind

 


 

Low key Honeysuckle Picnic – Sunday April 13th 2008

John Saxon writes:

“There will be a highly informal Picnic at the Honeysuckle site on Sunday 13th April from around 11am. BYO everything (including memorabilia) if you would like to reminisce with some of the ‘old crew’. ” Please don’t forget that the Tharwa Bridge is closed.



 

Australia Post Stamp Launch

2nd October 2007

Australian Space Stamps
The Australian space stamps. Image courtesy of Australia Post.

 

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik 1 (4th October), Australia Post has released a series of six stamps.

Low-key launches for the stamps were held in the mainland Australian capital cities. – See some photos here.