NASA Carnarvon and the Race to Space International Day of Human Space Flight
April 12 is the International Day of Human Space Flight. On this day we can reflect on over 60 years of space travel. We are currently so used to launches and landings, missiles, rockets, and space exploration that in actuality, this feat of the past no longer feels awe inspiring.
I’m lucky to be reminded of it daily. At the entrance of the small town of Carnarvon, hails a landmark that pops out of the desert 15 kilometres away from home. The NASA Satellite Dish (known as the OTC) played a pivotal role in the success of the Apollo space missions and the Moon landing and is a beacon for all things space adventure in Carnarvon.
In the 1960s, Carnarvon was chosen as a site for a NASA tracking station due to its proximity to the equator and its ideal location for tracking spacecraft. Without the tracking station in Carnarvon, the Apollo missions may not have been successful. The film Hidden Figures is a great portrayal of the women computers who calculated all elements for the Apollo Mission to return home safely. This tracking station was responsible for providing crucial communication links between the astronauts and mission control.
Today, the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum stands as a testament to the town's involvement in the space race. The museum houses artefacts and exhibits that highlight the important role that Carnarvon played in the space missions. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of international cooperation in the pursuit of scientific and technological advancements.
It is because of the solar eclipse on April 20, 2023 that I was wondering around the information highway and found out about International Day of Human Space Flight, the perfect way to recognise the achievements of the pioneers of space exploration. See my blog post about Wallal: The Solar Eclipse to define Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Expedition for the inspiring story of the 1922 Expedition.
It is motivating to relearn the different roles, knowledge and information that science theory and astrophysics make for continual space adventure. And to the photographers, engineers, travellers and journalists who document it so well. It’s all an adventure.
For the Space Cadet