STS-1 audio recorded at Orroral

Orroral Audio and notes from Philip Clark

These recordings were made during the first flight of the Space Shuttle in April 1981. The crew of Columbia were John Young and Bob Crippen.

The tape is a recording of three communications circuits recorded on a single track recorder. Therefore there are a few occasions where conversations overlapped. The communications circuits recorded were:

1. The off-station communications between Orroral, the control centres in the United States, and other stations (External circuit.)
2. The air to ground number one circuit between Orroral and the United States (Air/ground circuit.)
3. The internal on-station communications circuit within the Orroral Valley Tracking Station.

The recording of orbit 14 includes a full H-45 interface with Goddard and Houston. After the end of Orroral 14 pass is the wake up music played to Shuttle through Quito. “Blastoff Columbia”, sung by Roy McCall.

(Some of the recordings include communications with Yarragadee. There was usually only a gap of one or two minutes between Yarragadee LOS and Orroral AOS. The Yarragadee station was a voice only communications station in Western Australia, located a little south of Geraldton, and supervised by Orroral. CAP COM is the Houston astronaut voice communicator, the only person authorised to speak to the space shuttle except in an emergency.)


Passes recorded on tape:
Orbit 2 Orroral tracking pass Orbit 2. (12' 16", 2.2MB)
Orbit 14 NOCC Interface. (10' 22", 3.7MB)
  MCC Interface. (18' 12", 3.3MB)
  Orroral tracking pass Orbit 14. (9' 59", 1.8MB)
  Quito wakeup. (3' 13", 1.2MB)
Orbit 15 Orroral tracking pass Orbit 15. (19' 33", 3.5MB)
Orbit 16 Orroral tracking pass Orbit 16. Joe Kerwin Capcom.
”Waltzing Matilda” from 13' 00". (17' 45", 3.2MB)
Orbit 17 Orroral tracking pass Orbit 17. (1' 12", 217kb)
Orbit 18 Orroral tracking pass Orbit 18. (22' 42", 4.1MB)

Orroral Valley

STS-1 Commander John Young (centre) and Pilot Bob Crippen (right) present a signed photo to Orroral Station Director Lewis Wainwright when they visited in September 1981.

(Photo courtesy Philip Clark and Rob Quick.)


Timeline of passes for the first Space Shuttle flight tracked at Orroral.

(Z time is GMT or UTC, MET is Mission Elapsed Time – time from launch)

Event (GMT) Orroral local time Mission Elapsed Time
Launch 12 April 1981 12:00Z, 01:00 13 April local time, 00:00 MET
Orroral Passes (approx. times)
Orbit 1 13:01Z 13 April, 00:01 local time 14 April, 01:01 MET
Orbit 2 14:35Z 13 April, 01:35 local time 14 April, 02:35 MET
Orbit 3 16:09Z 13 April, 03:09 local time 14 April, 04:09 MET
Orbit 14 08:14Z 14 April, 19:14 local time 14 April, 20:14 MET
Orbit 15 09:55Z 14 April, 20:55 local time 14 April, 21:55 MET
Orbit 16 11:21Z 14 April, 22:21 local time 14 April, 23:21 MET
(Waltzing Matilda)
Orbit 17 12:53Z 14 April, 23:53 local time 14 April, 24:53 MET
Orbit 18 14:28Z 14 April, 01:28 local time 15 April, 26:28 MET
Orbit 30 08:10 15 April 19:10 local time 15 April, 44:10 MET
Orbit 31 09:48 15 April 20:48 local time 15 April, 45:48 MET
Orbit 32 11:21 15 April 22:21 local time 15 April, 47:21 MET
Orbit 33 12:57 15 April 23:57 local time 15 April, 48:57 MET
Orbit 34 14:18 15 April 01:18 local time 16 April, 50:18 MET

Orroral Valley

STS-1 Commander John Young and Pilot Bob Crippen are welcomed in the canteen at Orroral in September 1981. Note the special cake.

(Photo courtesy Philip Clark and Rob Quick.)


With special thanks to Philip Clark for the audio files, times and notes.
Philip’s voice, as the Orroral Comm Tech for STS-1, is heard on many of these recordings.

Orroral Valley

Philip Clark at Orroral Valley (photo taken 1983) and his forthcoming book, The Final Orbit. Learn about how you can support its publication at the link.

(Philip is also author of Acquisition: The Story of Orroral Valley Space Tracking Station.)