Lloyd Bott – My Association with NASA

Lloyd Bott

Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Lloyd Bott, Ian Homewood, Deke Slayton.

My purpose in putting these documents together was to place on record how close were the relationships between U.S. and Australia in those great achievements which put man on the Moon and how much faith the U.S. people had in us.

They were wonderful, happy days. I had the great privilege to be given the responsibility for NASA projects in Australia from the first “small step” until the “great leap” which put man on the Moon for the first time.

I am very proud of my association with NASA projects and we are all proud of how magnificently Australians, associated with the missions, performed.

Lloyd Bott
August 1, 1998


The U.S. lunar landing process has been a gradual process. The one-man Mercury flights proved that man can survive in the hostile environment of space. The astronauts of the two-man Gemini demonstrated that man is able to live and work in weightless condition while orbiting in space and the December 1968 flight of Apollo 8 demonstrated the skill and engineering to send men away, out of the influence of Earth to the vicinity of another celestial body and bring them back safely.

Along with the manned space flights, American scientists launched a series of unmanned spacecraft to explore the secrets of the Moon and to plot a lunar landing. Ranger, Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor mark the milestones in this great scientific endeavour. (The Australian station at Tidbinbilla was deeply involved with these projects) These spacecraft photographed and mapped the Moon and landed on its surface and analysed its soil and all the information indicated that the Moon was ready to receive its first human visitors.

Apollo 9 proved, on its 10-day mission orbiting the Earth, that the incredibly complex Lunar Module could function effectively in space. Apollo 10, in its 9-day flight around the Moon, repeated the same tests at lunar distances. For the first time two manned spacecraft were orbiting the Moon simultaneously. This was the final prelude to the lunar landing by Apollo 11.


“We go into space because whatever man must undertake. free men must fully share. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.

No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space: and none will he so difficult or expensive to accomplish. It will not be one man going to the Moon, it will be an entire nation.”


My association with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

A brief summary by Lloyd Bott

An eventful part of my life was the advent and development of the U.S. space programme, particularly the manned flight programme. NASA was established on 1st October, 1958 and, in the following few years, the Australian Department of Supply (of which I was then First Assistant Secretary and later Deputy Secretary) assisted NASA projects with some of our radar tracking facilities at Red Lake and Island Lagoon, Woomera in South Australia. (Woomera was the base of the U.K.-Australia Joint Project Rocket Range)

The U.S. Manned Space Programme was initiated immediately after NASA was created. The first manned Earth orbital flight was achieved in February, 1962 when John Glenn in Mercury “Friendship 7” orbited the Earth three times. Shortly after this flight a large party from NASA headquarters, from Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington DC, and from the Manned Spacecraft Center at Houston, Texas visited Australia in a Boeing 707 of the president’s fleet to thank us for our participation and to discuss their future plans. I accompanied them in the plane during the visit. It was at this time that I became responsible for the NASA activities in Australia.

The association with NASA led to the building of several NASA stations for tracking and communicating with space craft and our being responsible for maintenance and operation of the stations (this, of course, involved obtaining the land, building of roads etc and, in the case of Carnarvon, houses for the staff). For the Mercury programme, we built the station at Muchea near Perth; for Gemini we built a station with a 30 ft diameter dish antenna at Carnarvon, 600 miles north of Perth; and subsequently there were three big stations each with 85 ft diameter dish antennae in the Australian Capital Territory at Tidbinbilla (for deep space projects), at Orroral Valley (for communication and other scientific satellites) and at Honeysuckle Creek (for manned flights to the Moon). We also had a NASA Communications Center in Canberra, as part of the NASA communications network, which was the switching and control point for communications to and from the spacecraft for activities in our part of the world -from the NASA stations in Australia and from ships at sea in our area, primarily, in the Indian Ocean (four ships in the region had 30 ft antennae).

Australia’s geographic location was of vital significance. To maintain constant contact with space vehicles, it was necessary that stations be established at intervals of about 120° longitude around the world – in USA, Australia and Europe (Spain was selected). This enabled two stations to be monitoring the space satellites at anyone time. Australia was undoubtedly the closest partner of the US.

It was a great experience to be part of it all and I thoroughly enjoyed it and their trust and faith in me and our stations, in which they had the greatest confidence. It involved frequent visits to the USA including visits to the NASA stations in Hawaii and Bermuda. I met many of the people responsible for organising and controlling the programmes and several of the astronauts. I also travelled in Australia with many of the astronauts who visited Australia for various reasons including being a communicator with their fellow astronauts as they passed over this part of the world.

Probably the highlight of it all was to be present at Cape Kennedy in Florida for the launch of Apollo 11 to the Moon on July 16th, 1969, as a guest of the Vice President of the United States and NASA. It was a tremendous occasion, witnessed by a million people around the Cape and an estimated five hundred million on television around the world. The atmosphere was full of drama, expectation and excitement as we waited for the rocket motors to ignite to launch man on his mission to set foot on the Moon for the first time. It was a great thrill to be there to see the 3000 ton vehicle on its way. As matter of interest, on the evening before the launch, there was a small dinner for the VIPs at the Cocoa Beach Country Club. If my memory serves me right, Charles Lindbergh, the fIrst man to fly the Atlantic [in 1927] was there and General Westmoreland – the US General in Vietnam. Our escort was Astronaut Tom Stafford who had commanded the Apollo 10 mission over the Moon on the dress rehearsal flight less than two months earlier. Indeed a great honour for us.

After the launch we were flown by VIP aircraft to the Mission Control Center at Houston, Texas. I was there when Apollo 11, after orbiting the Earth to check out its systems, was given the all-clear to proceed to the Moon. Whilst at the Operations Room (we looked in through windows) I had a chat with my old friend Christopher Kraft who was then the Director of Operations at the Manned Spacecraft Center. It was an experience to be there at the heart of the operation on the ground. (As a matter of interest, Carnarvon gave Apollo 11 its final all-clear to blast into a Moon trajectory.)

I was back in Australia and out at Honeysuckle Creek station in the ACT to witness the landing on the Moon (July 20 US EDT, July 21 Australian EST). Actually it had been programmed that Honeysuckle Creek would be the back-up station for this part of the mission but, in the event, as the U.S. station was having difficulties in communication, Honeysuckle Creek was called on and sent those first pictures to the world. Shortly afterwards, the CSIRO 210 ft radio telescope at Parkes in NSW took over as its pictures were superior. The Prime Minister, John Gorton, was at Honeysuckle Creek to see the astronauts step on to the Moon (12.56pm Australian EST, July 21, 1969).

Mr Gorton sent the following message to the American President (Mr Nixon):

“The United States of America has today made history. I send you on behalf of the Australian people our warm congratulations on the successful first landing of men on the Moon. We have great admiration for the courage, self-discipline and skills of your astronauts and salute all those who have contributed to this great, peaceful achievement.

A new era has begun in space science and space technology and we wish you every success with the next stage.
To Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, we say: Godspeed and a safe journey home.”

I left the NASA programme in August 1969 (just three weeks after the Apollo 11 mission) when I was appointed as Permanent Head of the Department of National Development in Canberra. As the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Division of National Mapping were part of the Department I was able to keep an association with NASA through their Scientific Satellite Programme.

Statements of manned space flights in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programmes, are a very important part of this document. It will be observed that each mission was designed to confirm (step by step) technical development and to prepare and test Man for further activities in his new Space environment. It will also be noted that, as these developments proceeded in Mercury and Gemini, research and development was proceeding on the launch vehicle, command and service module (CSM) and the lunar module (LM) for Apollo.

I am also including a number of photographs and other documents which give a picture of, and dramatically show, the progress of the overall programme. The press statement from the Minister for Supply (Senator Ken Anderson) of 10th July, 1969 indicates the degree of the Australian participation in the historic Apollo 11 flight to the Moon.

It is important that I should place on record what part Australia played, and how well we performed in the NASA space programme. I personally received commendations and thanks from important officers at NASA Headquarters, at Goddard Space Flight Center and the Manned Spacecraft Center, including many of the astronauts. Perhaps the following extract from a letter I received in April, 1967 from Christopher Kraft of the Manned Spacecraft Center speaks for them all:

“I believe the stations we have in Australia are among the best, and certainly the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the people at all of the sites exemplifies the attitude so necessary to the success of our manned space flight program. We, like the astronauts, rely heavily on the support you and your people provide for us in Australia. It is a great feeling of comfort to know we have such fine people ready and willing to do their all for our efforts.

Your help over the past years is deeply appreciated by those of us in the flight operations end of the business, and I hope you recognise how very much it means to us.”


Manned Space Programmes – U.S. (unless otherwise indicated)

4 October 1957 – Sputnik 1 (Russian)
1 November 1957 – Sputnik 2 [dog Laika] (Russian)
1 October 1958 – National Aeronautics and Space Administration created
5 October 1958 – Project Mercury initiated
2 April 1959 – Original 7 US astronauts chosen, namely: WaIter Schirra, Donald Slayton, John Glenn, M. Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Virgil Grissom and L. Gordon Cooper.
4 December 1959 – A Rhesus monkey (Miss Sam) was shot to an altitude of 53 miles (85 km), recovered alive and well.
31 January 1961 – A Mercury capsule carrying a chimpanzee named Ham on a 414 mile flight. The success of this flight set the stage for the first American astronaut to go into space.
12 April 1961 – Yuri Gagarin (Russian) orbited Earth in Vostok 1.
5 May 1961 – Alan Shepard – America’s first manned space flight – 302 mile sub-orbital flight “Freedom 7”.
25 May 1961 – President Kennedy addressed US Congress urging them and the American people “TO SET A MOON LANDING IN THIS DECADE AS THEIR NATIONAL GOAL”.
21 July 1961 – Virgil Grissom – sub-orbital flight to evaluate spacecraft functions “Liberty Bell 7”.
29 November 1961 – A chimpanzee, Enos, did a two-orbit Mercury trip of Earth.
20 February 1962 – John Glenn, in Mercury “Friendship 7” orbited Earth three times. Perth = “city of lights”. America’s first manned orbital space flight.
24 May 1962 – Scott Carpenter in Mercury “Aurora 7” – three Earth orbits.
June 1962 – Russian Vostok 3 and 4 circled Earth for 70 hours
3 October 1962 – Wally Schirra in Mercury “Sigma 7” – six Earth orbits. Developed techniques for extended time in space.
15-16 May 1963 – Gordon Cooper in Mercury “Faith 7” orbited Earth 22 times. Following this flight, US space programme moved beyond pioneering Mercury to Gemini.
June 1963 – Vostok 6 – 49 orbits – Vostok 5 – 82 orbits.


Gemini Programme

GT 1 8 April 1964
GT 2 19 January 1965
Gemini 3 23 March 1965 Virgil Grissom, John Young – three Earth orbits. America’s fIrst two-man space flight.
Gemini 4 3-7 July 1965 James McDivitt, Edward White – 62 Earth orbits. First “walk in space” for US.
Gemini 5 21-29 August 1965 Gordon Cooper, Charles (“Pete”) Conrad – 120 orbits. Eight day flight proved Man’s capacity for sustained functioning in space environment.
Gemini 7 4-18 December 1965 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell – 206 orbits. World’s longest manned orbital flight.
Gemini 6 15-16 December 1965 Wally Schirra, Tom Stafford – 16 orbits. Gemini 6 and 7 made world’s fIrst successful rendezvous in space.
Gemini 8 16 March 1966 Neil Armstrong, David Scott – 7 orbits. First docking of two vehicles in space (with a target vehicle).
Gemini 9 3-6 June 1966 Tom Stafford, Eugene Cernan – 45 orbits. Three rendezvous of a spacecraft and a target vehicle. Extravehicular 2 hours 7 minutes.
Gemini 10 18-21 July 1966 John Young, Michael Collins – 43 orbits. First use of target vehicle as source of propellant power after docking.
Gemini 11 12-15 September 1966 Charles Conrad, Richard Gordon – 44 orbits. First multiple docking in space (with a target vehicle).
Gemini 12 11-15 November 1966 Jim Lovell, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin – 59 orbits. Astronaut Aldrin walked and worked outside spacecraft for more than 5½ hours. (The next time Aldrin stepped outside a spacecraft it would be on the Moon). Soviet Moon Programme grounded.


Apollo Programme

21-27 December 1968 Apollo 8 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, Bill Anders – first manned flight of Saturn V; first manned flight around the Moon; 10 orbits of Moon. Recovered in Pacific.

3-13 March 1969 Apollo 9 James McDivitt, David Scott, Russell Schweikart – in Earth orbit (151 orbits) to test LM operation. Recovered in Atlantic.

18-26 May 1969 Apollo 10 Tom Stafford, John Young, Eugene Cernan – to test LM operation in lunar orbit as dress rehearsal for the first Moon landing – 31 orbits of the Moon. Recovered in Pacific.

16-24 July 1969 Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin –first Moon landing. “Eagle” landed on Moon July 20. Armstrong and, 20 minutes later, Aldrin stepped onto Moon. Returned to ‘Eagle’ 2¼ hours later. Left Moon 12¾ hours later and docked with Columbia, July 21. Spacecraft landed in Pacific on July 24, 940 miles SW of Honolulu. 30 orbits of Moon.

14-24 November 1969 Apollo 12 Charles Conrad, Richard Gordon, Alan Bean –second Moon landing (Conrad and Bean). Lunar extravehicular activities (EVA) last 3.9 and 3.8 hours; 45 orbits of Moon. Recovered in Pacific.

11-17 April 1970 Apollo 13 Jim Lovell, John Swigert, Fred Haise – landing aborted after explosion in Service Module 200,000 miles out. Near catastrophe. Recovered in Pacific. The mission failed but the response of the Astronauts and those technically involved in the project to bring the spacecraft back safely was magnificent and brought great credit to the U.S. (Apollo 8, 11 and 13 were the missions that claimed the attention of the world).

31 January – 9 February 1971 Apollo 14 Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, Edgar Mitchell – third moon landing (Shepard and Mitchell). Lunar EVAs last 4.8 hours and 4.6 hours; 34 orbits of Moon; recovered in Pacific. (Alan Shepard, one of the original seven Astronauts, had been precluded from earlier flights [after the 5 May 1961 flight] because of an ear problem.)

26 July – 7 August 1971 Apollo 15 David Scott, Alfred Worden, James Irwin – fourth Moon landing (Scott and Irwin); lunar EVAs 6.5, 7.2 and 4.8 hours; 74 orbits of Moon. Transearth EVA by Worden 38 minutes. Recovered in Pacific.

16-27 April 1971 Apollo 16 John Young, Thomas Mattingly, Charles Duke – fifth lunar landing (Young and Duke); lunar EVAs 7.2, 7.4 and 5.7 hours; 64 orbits of Moon. Transearth EVA by Mattingly 1.4 hours. Recovered in Pacific.

7-19 December 1971 Apollo 17 Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt –sixth and final lunar landing – Cernan and Schmitt; lunar EV As 7.2, 7.6 and 7.3 hours; 75 orbits of Moon; Transearth EVA by Evans lasts 1 hour. Recovered in Pacific.



14 May 1973 Skylab 1 Space Station launched by Saturn V and is damaged, a solar panel and insulation are ripped away, rendering the spacecraft short of power and causing it to overheat

25 May 1973 Skylab 2 Modified Apollo CSM launched by Saturn IB; first manned visit to Skylab.

Crew: Charles Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, Paul Weitz.
Successfully carry out repairs. Recovered 22 June in Pacific.

28 July 1973 Skylab 3 Apollo CSM launched by Saturn IB on second manned mission to Skylab.

Crew: Alan Bean, Owen Garriott, Jack Lousma
Recovered 25 September in Pacific.

16 November 1973 Skylab 4 Apollo CSM launched by Saturn IB on third and final manned mission.

Crew: Gerald Carr, Edward Gibson, William Pogue
Recovered 8 February 1974. Mission lasted a record 84 days 1 hour 16 minutes.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project 15 July 1975
First international space link-up – final Apollo project. Tom Stafford, Donald Slayton, Vance Brand in Apollo CSM dock with Soyuz Soviet Cosmonauts (over Europe) – Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. Recovered 24 July in Pacific.
(Donald ‘Deke’ Slayton, one of the original seven Astronauts, had been precluded from earlier flights because a heart murmur had been detected.)



This was the end of the expendable era of manned spacecraft.
The next time the astronauts sped into orbit, it would be in a revolutionary new vehicle, the re-usable space shuttle. But that would not be for another six years.

But that July 1975 flight was not quite the end of the Apollo story. On 11 July 1979, after a world wide Skylab re-entry alert, the space station burned up as it plunged through the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia. The inhabitants of Perth were treated to a fireworks display as flaming debris streaked overhead.



(See here for some of the photos which are listed below.)

Chimpanzee Astronauts
Astronaut Alan Shepard – America’s first manned flight
Three of the original seven Astronauts – Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton with Lloyd Bott and Ian Homewood
John Glenn – First U.S. Astronaut to orbit Earth
Astronaut Alan Shepard visits Carnarvon, W.A.
First rendezvous in space – Gemini 6 and Gemini 7
Astronaut Frank Borman and Lloyd Bott
First docking in space – Gemini 8
Shark Bay, W.A. as seen from Gemini 9
Apollo 4 blast-off
In Apollo simulator – Jim Lovell, Sir Denham Henty and Lloyd Bott
Northern Queensland from Apollo 7
First historic picture of Earth from over the Moon – Apollo 8
Apollo 8 Astronauts
Journey around the Moon – Apollo 8
Astronauts Wally Schirra, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders with Lloyd Bott
Apollo 9 crew
Apollo 10 mission
Historic flight of Apollo 11 to the Moon
Pictorial presentation of Apollo 11 mission
Explanation of pictorial presentation
Buzz Aldrin pictured on Moon – Apollo 11
Lunar module ascends from Moon to dock with Command Module
Splashdown in Pacific
Apollo 11 Astronauts leave Command Module
Apollo 11 Astronauts, Moon plaque and Astronaut Patch
Prime Minister Harold Holt with Wally Schirra and Frank Borman (March 1966)
Prime Minister John Gorton at Honeysuckle Creek tracking station on day first men landed on Moon (21 July 1969 Australian time)
Certificate of Lloyd F. Bott’s presence at launch of Apollo 11
Apollo Achievement Award – L.F. Bott
Three generations of U.S. spacecraft and rockets
Details of Astronaut’s spacesuit
Details of Apollo spacecraft Space vehicle configuration in Earth parking mode
Details of Apollo Lunar Module Command Module and Lunar Module around the Moon
85 ft antennae at Australian stations at Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla
Minister for Supply’s Press Statement – 10 July 1969
Obituary Alan Shepard – 22 July 1998.


Scan of Lloyd Bott’s document by Ken Sheridan. OCR text extraction, Colin Mackellar.