This morning we left the beautiful Coral Bay and travelled to Carnarvon. This is another nice town on the water, but a lot bigger than Coral Bay. We set up camp and then headed into town and grabbed some lunch to eat down by the water and then headed out to explore.A lot of the trees in the main street are covered by these crochet type things, no idea what it means or why they are there, but I guess it gives some colour and a talking point for us tourists!
Now who knew Carnarvon (or Australia for that matter) played such a big role in space travel. Today we went to visit the Carnarvon Space & Technology Museum*. The museum focuses on the Carnarvon Tracking Station and the OTC Satellite Earth Station.The tracking station was built to support NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. It was commissioned in 1964 and operated for 11 years.
It was the last station to communicate with the space capsules leaving the earths orbit, and the last in contact before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. It was the largest manned space flight tracking station outside of the US and at the height of the operation, it had 220 staff.
The Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) Satellite Earth Station was opened in 1966 and amongst other things, the huge Casshorn antenna played an important part in Australia’s television history, transmitting the first pictures live via satellite from here to London.
On 21 July 1969, the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Casshorn antenna relayed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon from NASA’s Honey Suckle Creek Tracking Station to Perth’s TV audience via Moree earth station, the first live telecast into Western Australia.
This antenna was later replaced by a larger, nearly 30 meter in diameter antenna, built to allow better communication between the NASA Tracking Station and the USA.
This was an unexpected find and we loved the museum. Lots of informative information, videos and photographs and lots of interactive displays (nothing worse than not being able to touch and play with things!)
Included in the entry price was a ride in a shuttle simulator. We got to pretend to be astronauts in the Apollo 11 launch! We climbed inside the capsule and laid down and watched a video and heard the actual recording of the Apollo 11 shuttle taking off. It was pretty cool to be seeing and hearing the actual recordings from that unforgettable day back in 1969. As the countdown started you could just imagine their feelings of excitement, nervousness and anticipation.
Below are a few of the pictures taken from outside the museum.
Carnarvon is also known for its fresh food so we went to buy some fresh seafood and fruit, and frozen mango ice creams aswell!
*Some of the information in this blog has been taken in part from the Carnarvon Space & Technology Museum website and/or brochure.