Minitrack, Island Lagoon

The first US satellite tracking system, called Minitrack, a part of Project Vanguard, was designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory. It was installed at Woomera Range G to the North of Woomera village in 1957 and became operational in March 1958.

The equipment, excluding fixed and steerable antennas, was housed in an air-conditioned Fruehauf semi-trailer. It tracked satellites which transmitted on 108 MHz.

The Department of Supply staffed that Station under Jack Dowling. (Jack was later Station Director at MILA – the Merritt Island Launch Area tracking station.)


When the next generation of earth-orbiting satellites began using a frequency of 136 MHz and, to service them, the station was relocated to Island Lagoon. The system was upgraded to the Mod. 1 Minitrack of 136 MHz and a permanent building and new Minitrack equipment were installed.

This 136 MHz equipment is what is shown in Bruce Window’s photos.

When Island Lagoon closed, the Minitrack system was moved to Orroral Valley Tracking Station near Canberra.

(with thanks to Bruce Window.)

Island Lagoon

Island Lagoon Minitrack 1964.

Jan Delgado took this photo (and another of Woomera township) from an aircraft on the way to/from Adelaide.

Minitrack – then and now
Island Lagoon
Island Lagoon

Island Lagoon Minitrack 1964 and contemporary views.

At left, Jan Delgado’s oblique aerial photo of the Minitrack site has been ortho-corrected so that it approximately corresponds to the contemporary satellite view (right, courtesy of Google Earth). North is at the top.

Click each image for a larger version