The Parkes Radio Telescope
During the Apollo Program, Engineers and
Technicians from Tidbinbilla regularly spent time at Parkes.
On the left, note the recently-completed concrete jacket added between Apollos 11 and 12 to strengthen the Parkes structure. During the wind storm which hit as the Apollo 11 EVA began, there had been real fears for the integrity of the 1000 tonne radio telescope.
Photo, scan and names by Bruce Window.
As a radio telescope, Parkes is receive-only, lacking a transmitter.
CSIRO agreed, at NASA request, to provide mission support on a number of key occasions during the Apollo Program this was to provide additional signal level margin, and antenna/tracking redundancy. (In addition, the larger antenna meant a narrower beam-width, which was expected to be a help during the Apollo 13 emergency when both the LM and the SIVB IU were transmitting on the same frequency.)
Parkes used NASA payments to enhance the capabilities of the facility and this happy arrangement has continued to the present day.
During Apollo, Parkes was not always called up because the radio telescope cannot point below an elevation of 30° thus reducing potential tracking time.
For Apollo 11, a team from the Goddard Space Flight Center (led by Robert Taylor) were stationed at Parkes (assisted by John Crowe, who had worked at Honeysuckle).
At Honeysuckle Creek, Mike Dinn was responsible for co-ordinating Parkes telemetry through to Honeysuckle, where it could be used as another source (as was the telemetry from Honeysuckles wing at Tidbinbilla).
For later Apollo missions, Manned Space Flight Network personnel from Tidbinbilla, spent considerable periods at Parkes. Keith Aldworth who was a part of the team at Tidbinbilla writes,
(from Keiths biographical note.)
When Parkes was used for Apollo support, the Parkes telemetry was available at Honeysuckle Creek as an alternate source to its own antenna and that at Tidbinbilla.
Here are some photos taken by Keith
Aldworth and Harry Westwood.
Apollo equipment at the Parkes Radio Telescope.
Photo by Harry Westwood.
Top photo: The Parkes Radio Telescope.
Peter ODonahue does some wiring on Apollo equipment at Parkes.
In the background, from left to right The Ampex VR-660 2" video recorder; TV rack (green, with monitor at top); and Mincom M-22 telemetry recorder.
After Apollo 11, the Apollo equipment was mounted on a false floor to ease cabling and cooling of the racks.
Photo by Harry Westwood.
Below, for comparison, heres the same spot as it was in April 2007. (The main control room is now on the level below.)
Photo by Colin Mackellar: Parkes John Sarkissian is standing at left.