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Author
Bush, M. B.; Maitland, I. B. G.
Title
A giant leap for a small town - Carnarvon's role in Australia's contribution to the space race
In
17th Engineering Heritage Conference: Canberra 100 - Building the Capital, Building the Nation
Imprint
Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2013, pp. 43-51
ISBN/ISSN
9781922107121
Url
https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=880559511269230;res=IELENG
Abstract

On the 21st of July, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Australia's national effort to support the NASA Gemini and Apollo programs which led to that astounding event, featuring tracking and communication facilities at several locations across the country, was crucial to the success of the venture. The remote town of Carnarvon played a particularly important role. It is located on the central coast of Western Australia, at a position that is almost diametrically opposed to the launch site at Cape Canaveral. The highest point in the orbit of a satellite therefore occurs over Carnarvon, making the tracking station (NASA Carnarvon) the first that could confirm the orbit of a newly launched object. Communications between the tracking station and Mission Control in Houston were provided by a nearby OTC station (OTC Carnarvon). NASA Carnarvon was the tracking station that could confirm the trajectory and condition of the manned Apollo spacecraft before the booster was fired to insert the craft into a lunar trajectory, and it was also the first to welcome the returning craft back into an atmospheric re-entry trajectory for splash-down in the Pacific Ocean. The story of NASA and OTC in Carnarvon is one of technological and engineering achievement of the highest order. It is also a story of the social impact on a small rural town, of the influx of an urban high-tech workforce who contributed to and blended in well with the community. In 2012 Engineers Australia awarded NASA Carnarvon the status of Engineering Heritage International Landmark.

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