Principally, this site complements the book written by Paul Dench and Alison Gregg; 'Carnarvon and Apollo: One giant leap for a small Australian town'. Together, the book and website tell the extraordinary story of how Carnarvon (population just over 2000, in the remote northwest of Australia) became the location for the world's largest space tracking station outside mainland USA.
Read how and why this happened, and celebrate the work of the NASA Carnarvon Tracking Station (call-sign CRO), the OTC Satellite Earth Station (Carnarvon) established to ensure reliable communications for CRO, the life and times of Carnarvon people during those exciting years, and brief histories of WA in Space - other Space projects that have taken place, and still are taking place, in Western Australia.
Public interest in Space research in Western Australia had grown from the early 1960s, spurred on by the work of the small NASA Muchea Tracking Station near Perth and the excitement of seeing for the first time satellites orbiting overhead. On 20 February 1962 Perth achieved fame as 'The City of Light' when Astronaut John Glenn described seeing the lights of Perth left burning through the night to welcome him.
NASA's next generation of manned spaceflight projects required a more intense level of technical support from stations better suited to the orbital inclinations needed to send a spacecraft to the Moon. Carnarvon was ideally placed. In August 1962, NASA announced that work would begin immediately on establishing a space tracking station there to support its planned Gemini and Apollo missions. From 1963, until its closure in 1975, the NASA Carnarvon Tracking Station supported a huge range of scientific and exploratory missions - manned and unmanned - through NASA's peak years of operations in the race to put a man on the Moon.
Carnarvon's role in Space did not end there, however. In 1966 the Overseas Telecommunication Commision, Australia, had established the nearby OTC Station - Australia's first. Later it assumed a tracking role for the European Space Agency. Its last major function was the prime command role for the Giotto mission's rendezvous with Halley's Comet in March 1986. This station closed in 1987.
Since then Carnarvon Shire Council and other groups are working together to convert the remaining OTC dishes and buildings to form the nucleus of the Carnarvon Space & Technology Museum. Although this is still under development, it is hoped that it will eventually provide a full record of WA's significant involvement in space technology and exploration.
This overview written by Paul Dench & Alison Gregg
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