Mike Dinn


Mike Dinn

Mike Dinn in front of a 7 metre diameter lunar globe at Questacon science centre in Canberra, 23rd November 2018.

Photo by Colin Mackellar.

Mike Dinn
was born and educated in England. After graduating in Electrical Engineering (London) in 1955 he worked in British industry mainly on aircraft electronics and electrics.

In 1960 he moved to Australia, and was responsible for aircraft flight testing Instrumentation with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Mike moved to the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Station (Tidbinbilla – part of NASA/JPL’s Deep Space Network) in 1966 as Deputy Station Director in charge of Operations, his first mission being Surveyor.

In 1967 he took a similar position at Honeysuckle Creek, one of NASA’s three main communications facility for the Apollo program, and was actively involved in missions 7 to 14.

Mike Dinn

Mike Dinn at Kennedy Space Center in 1967.

Mike Dinn

Mike Dinn, Deputy Director of Honeysuckle Creek, May 1968.

Large, larger.

Photo by Hamish Lindsay, scan by Colin Mackellar.


He returned to the DSN station during the building of the new 210 ft dish at Tidbinbilla, and spent a year at JPL Pasadena (1972). This antenna supported Apollo 17 as its first task.

After a period in Australia’s Department of Defence he returned to the Deep Space Station in 1983, becoming Director in 1988. NASA’s main missions during this period were Voyager, Magellan and Galileo, but the facility also supported Shuttle until the TDRSS spacecraft were in place.

Mike retired in 1994 – on Apollo 11’s 25th anniversary, having just succeeded in obtaining an Apollo 11 lunar rock for display, presented by John Young.

Mike Dinn

John Young presents Mike with a model of DSS-43 as a retirement memento on behalf of JPL – at the Apollo 11 25th anniversary function in Canberra, July 1994.

Mike Dinn

And Mike was presented with this photo of Australia by John Young …

Mike Dinn

… along with this signed photo.

Mike Dinn

Mike with the Moon rock presented by John Young.

Mike Dinn

John Young and Mike Dinn with the lunar sample in Canberra, July 1994.


Mike considers the highlight of his career as being Apollo 11 operations (and in particular the TV of the first lunar step to the world coming through Honeysuckle), closely followed by being at Houston during Apollo 17 and sending some commands from Ed Fendell’s INCO console on Gene Kranz’s shift, and also Apollo 8 where Honeysuckle Creek first came into its own.

Mike was awarded two NASA Public Service Medals – in 1986 and 1995.


A ‘career highlight’ occurs during the Apollo 11 EVA:

Mike Dinn confirms to Network (Ernie Randall) in Houston that the President is Uplinking. i.e., President Nixon’s voice is going up to the Command Service Module through HSKX, while simultaneously going to the Lunar Module through Goldstone.

Listen at this link – 16 second / 600kb mp3 file courtesy Ben Feist.

Here is an outline of Mike's spacetracking work:

Feb 1966 Tidbinbilla, Deputy Station Director to Bob Leslie. Operations Supervisor. Missions – Pioneer 6, Surveyor 1,2,3,4,5. Other Pioneers.

Aug 1967 Honeysuckle, Deputy Station Director to Tom Reid. Responsible for Operations . Apollo 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13. (Don Gray Director last mission).

June 1970 Tidbinbilla, Deputy  Director to Tom Reid. Station Director, DSS 42. (Frank Northey was Station Director DSS43, abuilding). Operations, engineering, integrating 43.

Dec 1971 to Feb 1973, JPL. System design DSS43. Organise DSS43 support of Apollo 17 with GSFC and Houston.

1973 to 1983, Dept Defence. Aircraft projects, industry participation. 

1983 Tidbinbilla, Deputy Director to Tom Reid. Implementation of DSS46.  Parkes support of Voyager Uranus. Shuttle missions.

1989 to 1994 Tidbinbilla, Director. Magellan, Voyager Neptune, Galileo.


Favourite Mission
(From an internet discussion

Mike in front of DSS46 at Tid

Mike Dinn at Tidbinbilla
– in front of DSS46, the old Honeysuckle antenna, on July 16, 2002.

“I had already voted for [Apollo] 8 for the reasons John cites. We worked together on the mission. In retrospect I’m amazed at the confidence we (the whole project) had, but everything possible had been done to prepare, including contingency planning.

Our HSK in-house sim capability came about as a result of a visit I had to Houston, when I sat in on several MOCR simulations with “Network”. I realised that we at the Station didn’t have the same depth of contingency capability as the Flight Control team.

So when I got back to HSK, and with Tom Reid’s support, we decided to build an in-house capability based around some excess consoles from the tracking ship CSQ (which I selected at Fremantle), and various other pieces of equipment to assemble the many Apollo spectrums. I even approached Howard Kyle at Houston at one point to see if we could lay our hands on an excess/spare/prototype PSP (pre-signal processor) which mixed the various signals in the CSM – but with no success.

The only thing we couldn’t simulate was American accents for astronaut and CAPCOM voice, so we had a number of laconic Australian voices pretending to land and step on the lunar surface. Messed it up a bit. The simulations were great for building confidence.

I used to say that the Apollo projects used only about 5 percent of support capability for a nominal mission, but we got to 95 per cent on Thirteen. It was THE mission when the receiver operators earned their money – sorting out the LM signal from the SIVB on the same frequency. We had four receivers at HSK, four at Tidbinbilla and two at Parkes all trying.

And as John said the later missions added a great deal of complexity for us – the Lunar Rover was a complete “spacecraft” itself from a comms point of view.”

Don Gray

Don Gray and Mike Dinn (circled) are among this gathering of MSFN StaDirs and Assistand StaDirs at Houston in 1968.

Between them is Australian Jack Dowling, StaDir at MILA.
Preserved and scanned by Mike Dinn.

Ops console 1969

Ops Console in preparation for Apollo 11. (June 1969)

From left to right: John Saxon (standing), Ken Lee, Tom Reid (Station Director), Mike Dinn (standing), and Ian Grant.

Large, Larger. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

Ops console 1969

Mike was given this wooden spoon at Honeysuckle Creek.

Mike's Memorablia

The Space Show – 11th November 2003 with Mike Dinn and John Saxon. Listen in Windows Media Player format (about 18Mb) – about 80 minutes.

Conversations with Apollo

In July 2007, Mike was interviewed by James DeRuvo for Conversations with Apollo.

Mike’s interview is available here, courtesy of James DeRuvo.

(It’s a 19MB mp3 file, and runs for 41 minutes.)


Mike Dinn ABC Radio interview.

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

Listen here.

Photo: Mike at Tidbinbilla, 19 March 2014.

Mike Dinn

A Certificate of Appreciation for support of the Magellan Program to create high resolution radar maps of Venus.


Read about origin of the HSK designation for Honeysuckle Creek