On October 7, 1958, the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced Project Mercury; phase one

of the American goal of landing a person on the Moon, its first major undertaking, and United States’ first man-in-space program. The Soviet Union and the USA were in a desperate race to get the first Man into space as well as the first Man to orbit the earth. To this aim, there were three goals of the Mercury Missions. • • • To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth To investigate man's ability to function in space To recover both man and spacecraft safely

Alan Shepherd’s flight in May 1961, the first by an American, was followed up by that historic speech of President John F Kennedy, which challenged America to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. “..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 the earth…” Between 1961 and 1963 there were six manned space flights and the Mercury Projects objectives were met, allowing the real goal to be attempted: the landing of an astronaut on the moon. Between 1965 and 1966, following the Mercury missions, came Project Gemini. That project saw space walks, docking manoeuvres and long flights. Of course, we all know where this led – Project Apollo moon program and the resulting moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin in 1969. Outside of the United States Australia had the largest number of NASA space tracking and communications stations in the world. Two of these stations were operated in Australia for Project Mercury—Red Lake, Woomera and Muchea, Western Australia. Muchea, just north of Perth, was a key station in the Mercury network, situated as it was, roughly at the highest point of the spacecraft’s orbital path. It was also the only command station – meaning it could send instructions to the spacecraft – in Australia. The next command station was in Hawaii. In the early sixties, the town of Muchea consisted only of a typically rural general store run by an elderly lady, Mrs Blanche Peters. She also managed a three-line telephone switchboard, her window looking out onto a paddock alongside at stacks of 200 litre fuel drums. Mrs Peters, actually an avid follower of space activities told a reporter, “My switchboard is essentially a local service. If anybody gets sick in the district and they want a doctor, I’ll have no choice but to cut them off – Australians or Americans alike. I must tend to my own folk”. Kevyn Westbrook, who now lives a retiree’s life in Canberra, was the Ground Communications Co-ordinator. He recalls, “There was no such thing as microwave communications in those days, it was all copper wire land lines. We used to get a lot of outages because people in their cars were always running into the poles, and the lines were getting tangled up with galahs”. We have to remember we are talking about over 45 years ago, well before our modern computers, telephone systems, mobile phones and satellite communications systems. The Muchea team began training for its first mission with flight simulations conducted by an RAAF Dakota prepared for training Muchea and the other Australian Mercury station at Woomera. Returning to its base on 31 July '61 at the end of a day of simulations over Muchea, it crashed in the Darling Range giving NASA some of the earliest loss of life in its quest to conquer Space. The two pilots were killed, but

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fortunately, five other crewmembers survived. Those who died would have been the first Australians to lose their lives for the NASA programmes. NASA had trained chimpanzees to operate levers in response to flashing lights so that the chimps could be used to “man” orbiting spacecraft before running orbital missions for astronauts,. One such chimp, Enos, was chosen for a multiple-orbit flight in November 1961. While preparing for this mission they were performing a simulation at Muchea when the teletype machine, (the principle source of communication with the Mission Control Centre in the United States), started garbling the messages - meaning a problem with the telephone line. Their first call was to Perth to contact the line troubleshooters. They would have to determine the location of the fault that was found to be at this corner known as suicide corner. Someone had crashed and snapped the pole at its base. Although the circuits were still going, it was only the wires holding up the pole. The Postmaster General’s Department wanted five to six hours to repair the pole, but were told the time couldn’t be spared. The PMG’s Department then said that they could get the linesmen to prop the pole up with pikes – poles with long spikes on the end. They prodded these pikes into the pole as far up as they could and kept the pole upright right the way through the simulation. They had a team of linesmen camped there right through the freezing cold night. Astronaut Alan Shepard wrote later, “The Australians have been most friendly and cooperative about helping us in every way they can, and their hospitality towards the crews was boundless. The nicest touch though, came on the morning when Enos was launched. As Wally Schirra, another American astronaut took his position in the operations room he noticed that someone had thoughtfully, and quietly, placed a banana at each console”. In February 1962, John Glenn made his historical three-orbit trip in Friendship 7, the first American to orbit the earth. The Mayor of Bunbury, F.R.Hay, proposed that lights in the area be left on during the night to help Glenn’s observations from space. His council agreed to bear the extra cost of $20, but elsewhere the idea met with a cool reception. The Lord Mayor of Perth, Sir Harry Howard said that the idea was morally wrong, a waste of public money, and he could see no scientific contribution coming out of the gesture. NASA had considered asking for the lights on Perth’s airport runways to be left on, and the Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Paltrdge, said, “This Department will render every possible illumination assistance. I am authorising the lighting up of Perth Airport and runways for as long as necessary. Department installations along the coast as far north as Carnarvon will be lit”. State Premier, Sir David Brand approved the Perth metropolitan streetlights to remain on until dawn at an expected extra cost of $400, and encouraged householders to leave their outside lights burning. He said it was a small cost for the friendly gesture that Western Australia could make towards the American project. From Muchea, astronaut Gordon Cooper said NASA had planned John Glenn to see whether he could observe the lights of Perth, and the Station Director, Lewis Wainwright made the statement, “Perth and Brisbane would be the only major cities in the world that the spacecraft would pass over on the darkened side of the earth. It would be a help to all of us if we knew that he could see Perth”. NASA officials at Cape Canaveral cabled the City of Perth to thank them for the decision and said that the light glow should enable the astronaut to pinpoint his position when he entered the dark side of earth on his first orbit. In Australia, the citizens of Perth had prepared a greeting that would also serve to test his night vision. Porch lights beamed. People spread sheets on their lawns to

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reflect the light. Taxi drivers flicked their headlights. Glenn radioed astronaut Gordon Cooper at the tracking station in Muchea, asking what the flickering lights were. When told that he probably saw the lights of Perth and Rockingham, he said, "Thank everyone for turning them on, will you?" For a while, the City of Perth became famous for its lights. This first, manned, Mercury orbital flight by John Glenn in Friendship 7- February 1962, was followed by Scott Carpenter in Aurora 7- May 1962; Wally Schirra in Sigma 7-October 1962 and Gordon Cooper in Faith 7-May 1963. Muchea closed in 1963. The development of the Carnarvon Tracking Station for Gemini and Apollo meant that Muchea, after its pioneering work, was no longer needed. Although the Muchea Tracking Station is now long gone, the Shire of Chittering has erected a small display about the local history. A small plaque installed in the place occupied by the communications technicians console reads, “This plaque is to mark the spot where an Australian first spoke to a space traveller.” The Australian was Jerry O’Connor, communications technician at Muchea. In the first flight, it was his job to establish initial contact with the capsule, and hand over to the Capsule Communicator. The space traveller was astronaut John Glenn aboard Friendship 7 in February 1962. The Carnarvon Tracking Station in Western Australia was opened in 1964 to be a prime station for the Gemini Program, the second step of NASA's plan to put a human on the Moon. It was the largest manned space flight tracking station outside the US and should not be confused with the nearby OTC Carnarvon Earth Station that was built to carry communications from the NASA station to the US. The Tracking Station was sited on Brown’s Range, about six air kilometres from the town of Carnarvon, on the mouth of the Gascoyne River, and occupied 259 hectares. It cost $4.5 million dollars to build and its operating cost was about $5 million a year (in the dollar value of the sixties). Carnarvon was better placed than Muchea to be able to track Gemini spacecraft – and it was also in an ideal position to confirm the orbit of the Apollo spacecraft so that a Go / No Go decision could be made for Trans Lunar Injection. Trans Lunar Injection was the firing of the spacecraft rockets to take the spacecraft out of earth orbit and send it on its way to the moon. In those days, Carnarvon, once known as “the town too tough to die”, was a real frontier outpost, familiar with floods, cyclones, droughts, and bush fires. At the time, it was an outback town of about 2,200 people with broad streets originally designed to allow Afghan drivers to turn their camel-drawn wool drays around. Clouds normally only appeared in winter, temperatures could go to 45ºC and it’s one of the few places where even oilcans rusted. At the end of the main street a patch of blue water bordered by a beach and palm trees known as the Fascine, was the only concession to the city dwellers’ image of a tropical paradise. A picture of the Fascine was regularly used to lure unsuspecting wives and families of prospective highly trained Tracking Station employees to take up residence in this remote town; particularly from cold, rainy, faraway England. Station Director of Carnarvon Tracking Station from 1968, Ray Jacomb said, “Carnarvon is a long way from anywhere and it’s only been those who wanted to come and who had enough individuality to go that far for a job that arrived to work at he station”. The first shipment of 15 tonnes of electronic equipment was delivered to Fremantle in 1963 aboard the United States Lines freighter Pioneer Reef, and trucked the 965 kilometres north to Carnarvon, where the staff began to build the station, installing the equipment as it arrived.

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A flight controller from The US, Ed Fendell, recalls, “Well, Carnarvon was a tracking station in Australia. During Mercury, there was a tracking station at a place called Muchea, which was just north of Perth. When Gemini came along, they changed trajectory, the longitude and latitude, so they needed a station further north. So they closed Muchea and moved to a place called Carnarvon. Carnarvon was—is; I shouldn't say was—is 600 miles due north of Perth. I don't know exactly what's there now, but between Carnarvon and Perth was one town, which was 300 miles away, halfway, called Geraldton. So you usually flew up there, flew back. Hardly anybody ever drove because the road was dirt. And you flew up in a DC-3, a C-47, which was an airline called MMA, Mickey Mouse Airline, we used to call it. When you got to Carnarvon, Carnarvon was kind of like if you watch the "Late, Late Show" on TV in the old days, the "Late, Late Show," and Hopalong Cassidy would right into town. Well, when Hoppy rode into town, if you threw four or five cars on the street, you had Carnarvon. And the main thing to do in Carnarvon was drink beer. And there was a lot of guys who were running ranches out in the middle of nowhere, huge sheep stations that hadn't much grass, and they'd be out there for like three or four months at a time, they'd be out there along with the dogs, they'd been hired to run these places. They'd come in and they'd drink beer. And people from the tracking station. A hotel was not like anything that you could imagine in your mind. It was completely different. When it was time to eat, you ate where you lived, and you ate during that period of time or you didn't eat at all, because there was nowhere else to eat. There was no Wendy's or McDonald's or anything; you ate there. The big thing there was drinking Swan Lager beer. That was the big thing. There were a few women, worked there, lived there. You could go out at night and shoot kangaroos, which I don’t do. And that was it. You worked and you drank beer”. Carnarvon’s first mission was a real Australian outback story of the bush telegraph. In April 1964 the first unmanned Gemini trial was sitting on the launch pad ready to open the Gemini program with a test of the structural integrity of the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. At Carnarvon, in the late evening, staff were still putting the finishing touches to the new station. One minute and 37 seconds before lift off, Hamish Lindsay, author of “Tracking Apollo to the Moon”, recalls, “We were standing by listening to the countdown, anxious to prove ourselves with our first real mission. Everything was ready, all the mission information was loaded and the equipment tuned up. Suddenly the line to Mission Control at Cape Canaveral went dead. We were cut off from the outside world by a lightning strike 105 kilometres south of the station. Mrs Lillian O’Donaghue, the postmistress and operator of the weather station at Hamlin Pool at the southern end of Shark Bay, was roused up that night by a telephone call from the operator at Northampton, asking if she could contact Carnarvon. Using the bush telegraph – nothing more than a telephone party line connected to the top strand of the local property fences, or in some places a line strung between the fence posts – Mrs O’Donaghue. Who had only been in the job four months, was able to speak to the operator 241 kilometres away in the town of Carnarvon. The mission tracking data from Cape Canaveral was intercepted at Adelaide, and phoned through to the Post Master General’s Department test room in Perth. The Perth technicians then relayed the information to the technician at Mullewa, who established a phone patch through Northampton to Mrs O’Donaghue. She and her husband then verbally passed blocks of figures in half-hour segments on to the Carnarvon operator from 10:30pm until 3:45 am the next day. From the Carnarvon telephone exchange it was a simple matter to get the information to the Tracking Station and the FPQ_6 radar there, a key element in the early launches from Cape

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Canaveral. It was 3am before the PMG linesman battled through driving rain and several washouts to get the normal landline operational again. After this episode a special radio link was built between the station and Geraldton, and there were no more major communication breakdowns. The Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland had organised a team of operational and engineering people to fly to tracking stations around the world and train them all to the same standard, and also evaluate their performance under mission conditions. So the first major event for Carnarvon was a visit from the simulation test team and a Super Constellation aircraft. While the aircraft flew back and forth over the station, behaving like a spacecraft, the ground team put the station operational staff through searching exercises to train them in the procedures to follow when the real mission was in progress. In preparation for the first manned Gemini mission flight control teams spread around the world. Led by Danny Hunter, the team to conduct the mission from Carnarvon arrived and lodged at the local hotels. The Capsule Communicator, or CapCom, was to be Pete Conrad, one of the second intake of astronauts, later to walk on the moon in Apollo 12. He recalled, “I remember flying into Carnarvon the first time on MacRobertson Miller Airlines and the chap coming back and opening up the door and throwing my bags out on the red dirt and saying, ‘See you on the way back, mate’, and off they went. That was at the end of about 54 hours of travelling”. “I checked into the hotel and asked the girl behind the desk did she have a reservation for a Lietenant-Commander Conrad? She said, ‘Upstairs on the second floor; take the first room that’s made up and let me know the number on the way out!’”. Gemini III was the first manned flight, four years after the decision to start the Gemini program. On launch day the daily afternoon sea breeze was blowing steadily over Carnarvon as the station staff were picked up by the little grey Commer buses dashing among the houses and driven up to sun-baked Brown’s Range. In the main Telemetry and Control building the staff escaped from the heat and sand outside, first grabbing a cup of tea or coffee and cooling off in the refreshing air-conditioning before spreading among the equipment to begin running through the final checklists. The Operations Supervisor settled down at the Operations console, and began to bring the station together over the intercom. Hamish Lindsay recalls, “We all settled down to our mission stations and listened to the launch countdown on our headsets. I was surprised to receive an order from the CapCom to tune into the short wave Voice of America, to give him the launch description in real time” In June 1965 NASA brought forward America’s first Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA), commonly called a spacewalk, to Gemini IV, under pressure from President Johnson. 193 kilometres above Hawaii, Ed White began his spacewalk. Hamish Lindsay remembers, “At Carnarvon we were all getting ready for the next pass, but hanging on to every word coming down the voice channel from Houston. To us this first spacewalk was one of the supreme moments of the Gemini program and we were agog to hear how it was going, and what we would find when they came up over our horizon”. Gemini V was planned to see if astronauts could survive eight days in space – the expected time for a lunar mission. On a sheep station called “Woodleigh” near Shark Bay, a bulldozer shoved piles of white sea shells into carefully chosen patterns to try and find the smallest pattern the astronauts could see through the window of their spacecraft. It was part of an experiment to attempt to gauge and calibrate their vision from space. Hamish Lindsay recalls, “I had spent months before the mission photographing samples of the shells to record the effect of weather on their whiteness. When the

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moment came for the tests on August 26 1965, Gemini was drifting along, powered down and unable to maintain a stable view of the ground. The astronauts could see the smoke markers identifying the site but saw nothing of the patterns, although astronaut Conrad reported it was fantastically clear. At another attempt on August 28th it was cloudy, so the Carnarvon experiment was written off.” “On 26th August, Conrad said something from the spacecraft that both the CapCom and Houston missed, and they asked for a replay of the voice tape. The reel to reel tape recorder chose that moment to break down and stop pulling the tape through. Houston and CapCom did not know I was driving the tape reel with a screwdriver each time it was played back to them”. Gemini VIA was planned to go on 25th October 1965 to try docking procedures with a special target spacecraft called the Agena. It was also to be my first live mission after joining the Tracking Station in September 1965. The Agena had flown more than 140 missions since 1959 – but this time it appeared to have exploded shortly after launch and the crew of the Gemini spacecraft were left sitting on the launch pad. With no sign of a signal at any of the stations along the planned track, Houston decided to choose Carnarvon for the last attempt. If Carnarvon saw nothing the mission would be scrubbed. The crew at Carnarvon searched until long after the expected time of arrival of the Agena but saw nothing. I remember one of the Flight Controllers speaking from Houston, saying, “I have now got over my emotions and can speak properly again”. A forlorn Gemini spacecraft was left sitting on the launch pad while at Carnarvon we all went home in the early hours of the morning feeling quite lost; our evenings for the next few days suddenly free. Gemini VII was originally planned to be an endurance test to see how 14 days in space would affect the astronauts. As a result of the abandoned Gemini VIA mission Gemini VI would also be launched during Gemini VII’s flight to test rendezvous procedures. We prepared to devote our lives exclusively to the mission for the next two weeks. While the astronauts above us received their meticulously calibrated 2,500 calories a day, down on the ground we had unknown doses of calories from commercial TV dinners in aluminium containers specially organised by he station canteen. Some of us had to live on site for days. As the operations room had no windows, and we used Universal or Greenwich time, we tended to lose track of the local time particularly as we were up and working through the American day – our night. I remember working for days, sometimes sleeping in my chair or on the floor, then waking from a rest period to go to the canteen to get breakfast. I passed the front door and looked out expecting to see the early morning sun – the last rays of the setting sun from the west were lighting the fountain outside. It wasn’t morning, it was sunset. Breakfast at sunset? There were five more Gemini missions before the next phase of the project to land man on the moon. After the conclusion of the Gemini program, Carnarvon Tracking Station provided extensive support for the Project Apollo missions to the Moon. By reason of Carnarvon's unique geographical position it was used to verify that the Apollo spacecraft had achieved its planned orbit and to uplink the Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) command to the Apollo spacecrafts. That command instructed the onboard spacecraft computer when to fire the rocket motor which would take the spacecraft out of earth orbit and on its way to the moon. The Manned Space Flight Network ground tracking stations for Apollo were a whole new concept. During the Mercury and Gemini missions a flight control team from the US would conduct the mission from the station. As these missions were all earth orbits the station only had short glimpses of up to 12 minutes as the spacecraft raced

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past about 160 kilometres overhead. The Lunar missions had daily passes as long as the moon was in view and were all run through communication links from Houston, the station becoming a relay point for the Mission Control Centre. This explains why Australia’s first satellite earth station was built at Carnarvon. It was at the end of Brown’s Range, just 4 kilometres north of the existing NASA Carnarvon Tracking Station. It was purpose built to support the NASA station’s communications needs for the Gemini and Apollo Programs. The two stations were linked by land lines. That station closed around 1989. Today, from a distance, all looks normal – but the former Earth Station is now disused. There are plans, as yet to be finalised, to establish a museum to Space Tracking in Western Australia at the site. To provide 24-hour coverage of lunar missions there were three major tracking stations with 26-metre dishes spaced roughly 120º around the world. Carnarvon was originally to have been one of these stations, but after the earthquake at Meckering it was discovered that there was a fault line running through Western Australia, and Carnarvon. So the dish was installed instead at Honeysuckle Creek in Canberra Simulation teams and their aircraft would always arrive before a mission, for a week, to give the station, and staff a thorough exam. Apollo I was the fist manned simulation of the spacecraft that would eventually be sent to the moon, and the first mission for which I was the Operations Supervisor, nominally in charge of some 160 engineers and technicians and the liaison between the Tracking Station and the Mission Control Centre. With 10 minutes to go to the simulated launch tragedy struck – the three astronauts died in less than 14 seconds from suffocation by poisonous gases because of a fire in the capsule – intensified by the 100% oxygen atmosphere. At first, I thought the news coming down the communication line from Cape Canaveral was part of the simulation – then a teletype message explained the awful truth. It took 18 months and $410 million dollars for 150,000 people working around the clock to incorporate 1,341 approved engineering changes into the spacecraft for the upcoming lunar missions. Apollos IV, V, and VI, were all unmanned and designed to test the rockets and spacecraft that would carry man to the moon and land there. Apollo VII carried the first three astronauts to ride the rocket into space that would be used for the lunar mission, leading to the Christmas mission of Apollo VIII, the first time man would leave the earth. On Christmas Eve, 1968, the Apollo VIII spacecraft went behind the moon and everyone waited anxiously for them to reappear after entering an orbit that would enable them to circumnavigate the moon. The rest, as they say, is history. It was also the first time I didn’t spend Christmas with my family since that part of the mission occurred on Christmas Day here in Western Australia. Apollo 11; the first time man would stand on the moon and the culmination of years of planning and billions of dollars of expenditure. Just before the mission, we were briefed by the Network Controller from Goddard Space Flight Centre, “The chances of equipment problems in the spacecraft and on the ground which could seriously jeopardise the mission’s success are much less than the chances of a person pushing the wrong button at the wrong time. For example, unless the antenna is pointed at the right place at the right time the Tracking Station might as well not be there”. My role, as Operations Supervisor, was to co-ordinate station planning and operations to make each link in the chain as strong as possible, and to use parallel chains where possible so that a failure in a link could be covered. Being so involved in the detail of

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the station, it was very easy to lose sight of the overall picture. Somewhat like a stage manager who has to be aware of every detail of the production, but never sees the end product as does the audience. After the successful launch, right on time, the spacecraft raced across the Indian Ocean towards Carnarvon, the first station to send confirmation to Houston that Apollo 11 was in its correct earth orbit. All of the Carnarvon antennae were locked firmly on the horizon – waiting. We had three tracking systems operating. When the spacecraft rose up over the horizon, the Americans were desperate to run their checkout programmes and make sure everything was working properly. We were locked up solid on the spacecraft before line of sight, about 4,400 kilometres away over the Indian Ocean, and then we tracked it over towards the eastern coast of Australia. The second orbit over Carnarvon was the big moment for the astronauts to be told from Houston that they were to go ahead for the lunar burn – firing the rocket motor to take them out of earth orbit and send them on the way to the moon. The commands for the spacecraft computer to fire the rocket motor at the appropriate time had previously been uplinked from Carnarvon. The rocket motor fired right on time and the spacecraft began to break away from earth. Carnarvon’s first part in this historical mission was almost over. On July 21st, in common with the billions of people around the world we heard Armstrong announce, “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed”. I’m sure the people in the streets of Carnarvon could have heard the cheers from the Tracking Station. At Carnarvon, we had no television, so the ABC had made arrangements with the OTC Earth Station to receive the moonwalk via satellite. A 36cm monitor was installed in the local theatre, the people at the back of the crowded hall using binoculars and rifle telescopes to see the history making moments as Armstrong walked down the ladder and onto the moon. Our worst fears were realised when during the Apollo 13 mission we heard the words, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here”; an explosion had occurred, and we at the Tracking Station were helpless witnesses to what was happening. A call from the Network Manager in the US to Kevyn Westbrook, Officer in Charge of The Deakin Switching Centre in Canberra, said they wanted some kind of broadband communication between Carnarvon Tracking Station and the Carnarvon OTC Earth Station. At 4am in Western Australia Kevyn dragged one of his friends in the Postmaster General’s Department in Perth out of bed. He said, “Oh, I think I have got and Outside Broadcast link we could use, I’ll see what I can do – give me a call back in an hour.” When he was called back he said, “Yes, I’ve organised it, to OB vans will be leaving the depot in Perth for Carnarvon at 8 o’clock this morning, as soon as the guys get to work”. There was no mention of money, or anything like that, it was a matter of let’s do it and sort things out afterwards, the good old Aussie attitude when there was a major problem. While the engineers and controllers at Houston devised a plan to rescue the spacecraft and its crew, we continued waiting until we were required. As is known, Apollo 13 did eventually return to earth. As it came back in it did this vast swing back over the Indian Ocean and we were the only people in the world who could “see” it for a long time. Because of the earth’s rotation, it seemed to turn around and come back the other way. Our radar was able to watch the planned separation of the lunar module which had been used, not to land men on the moon, but to rescue the Apollo spacecraft. After a safe re-entry and landing, an audience of many millions joined in grateful thanks for the safe return of Apollo 13 and its crew.

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For those of you with a phobia about 13 – it was the 13th Apollo mission launched at 13:13 hours, spacecraft time; the explosion occurred on 13th April Australian Eastern Standard time, with 13 nations offering to provide rescue ships or aircraft. The remaining four Apollo missions took place without any overt drama, and Apollo 17 marked the end of the Apollo Project. Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the moon; and 12 men walked upon its surface. The Tracking Station was subsequently used to support the Skylab space station. The Carnarvon Tracking Station was closed in 1974. The main building was then used by Radio Australia who was looking for a home after Cyclone Tracy put their Darwin installation out of commission. They closed this facility in June 1996. All Tracking Station equipment was removed and/or buried and all buildings, with the exception of one small one now used by Telstra, were razed. Only the foundations of what is an historical site remain. Today, a plaque commemorating the opening of Carnarvon Tracking Station is mounted on a large rock outside the Visitors Centre at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex at Tidbinbilla. There is nothing in Carnarvon to tell visitors about Carnarvon’s huge place in manned space history. In closing I would say that those five years I spent in Carnarvon will be forever engraved on my memory and I am proud to have been part of Western Australia’s contribution to man’s greatest achievement in putting man on the moon. I would also acknowledge material obtained from NASA documents, and author Hamish Lindsay.

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