Faith 7 audio recorded at Muchea

15 May 1963

The twenty-two-orbit flight of Faith 7 / MA-9, by Gordon Cooper, marked the triumphant final flight of the Mercury Program.

Gordon Cooper had been stationed at Muchea during (and in the long run up to) Friendship 7 / MA-6.



The long duration of MA-9 meant that station staff had to stay on site to cover all the passes – and sleeping accommodation was arranged in caravans.

In this front page story in The Daily News for Thursday May 16, 1963, Muchea’s CommTech Gerry O’Connor (standing), chats with M&O Gus Pugh and Ground Communication Controller Kevyn Westbrook.

Clipping preserved by Kevyn Westbook. This copy with thanks to John Westbrook.


The MA-9 recordings below, made at Muchea, have two channels – the Left channel is the Goddard Loop, and the Right Channel is Air/Ground communications.


Pass 2 over Muchea

Pass 2, acquired at around 02:22:00 GET (11:26pm West Australian Standard Time on Wednesday May 15, 1963).

Someone adds a voice note that this is Pass 2, with acquisition at 26 minutes past 11, local time.

Capcom is Chuck Lewis.

Surgeon is Aeromed (Royal Australian Air Force) Dr. Warren Bishop.

Muchea Systems is apparently Harold (Hal) B. Stenfors, a member of the NASA flight control team.

Cape Flight is Chris Kraft, at Cape Canaveral.

For recollections of Gordon Cooper’s friendship with Warren Bishop, hear Part 4 the interview with Kevyn Westbrook, Muchea’s GCC (Ground Communications Controller).


audio Pass 2 recorded at Muchea.

(4.6MB mp3 stereo file. 11 minutes 57 seconds.)

Highlights – times from start of file:

00:30 Muchea has acquisition.

00:50 Capcom reports Muchea has TM solid (i.e. stable telemetry downlink).

01:45 Capcom calls.

05:53 Woomera (Red Lake) has acquisition.

06:40 Capcom asks Cooper if he has the lights of Perth in sight. (He can’t see them, due to the wrong orientation, though he did see them clearly on his first pass.)

From 07:36 into the recording, Gordon Cooper sends a message for RAAF Flight Surgeon, Wing Commander Dr. Warren Bishop –

07:36 Capcom (Chuck Lewis) “We have approximately one minute to LOS.”

07:40 Astro (Gordon Cooper) “Ah roger.”

07:43 Astro (Cooper) “Tell Warren not to get lost out in the Outback.”

07:47 Capcom (Lewis) “We almost got lost last Sunday.” [laughs]

07:50 Aeromed (Warren Bishop), “Astro, most of the boys have joined tennis clubs here.”

07:54 Astro (Cooper) “Rog. This is more fun than tennis!”


Pass 3 over Muchea

Pass 3, acquired at 03:58:35 GET (01:01am West Australian Standard Time on Thursday May 16, 1963).

Someone adds a voice note that this is Pass 3, with acquisition at 1 minute past 1, local time.

The recording starts about 2 minutes before acquisition.


audio Pass 3 recorded at Muchea.

(3.9MB mp3 stereo file. 10 minutes 01 seconds.)

Highlights – times from start of file:

02:08 Muchea has acquisition.

02:21 Capcom calls.

03:02 Capcom asks Cooper if the beacon deployed. Yes, but he can’t see it.

04:17 Cooper: Everything is nominal.

07:54 LOS. 04:04:12 GET.


About the recordings:

A 1/4 inch open reel tape of air/ground audio recorded at Muchea was deposited with the National Archives of Australia some time after the mission. A record indicating the existence of the tape (which had not been examined) was found in 2014 by Brian Larwood, who requested a copy of the audio from the NAA. The tape was digitised by Pro Copy in Perth for the NAA in late 2015.

Speed correction, editing and identification by Colin Mackellar, January 2017.

The tape contains Passes 2 and 3 over Muchea of Faith 7.



In 1966, three years after the MA-9 mission, Capcom Chuck Lewis (right) spent time at Carnarvon. He is seen here with Station Director Lewis Wainwright, formerly Station Director at Muchea.

From a frame of 16mm Department of Supply footage.

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