Tracking system console from Orroral Valley Tracking Station

Object name: Tracking system console from Orroral Valley Tracking Station

Materials and size: Metal, glass, plastic; 1095 mm (h) x 1510 mm (w) x 1150 mm (d)

Creation: Made in USA

National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia

EMu user since 2003


may_small.gifThis tracking system console from Orroral Valley Tracking Station is a grey metal cabinet with a sloping desk section at front, featuring printed sheets bearing original satellite tracking coordinates beneath a perspex sheet. Switches and dials are located at the front for the operation of the unit.

Australia became involved with the United States of America’s Space Program in 1957 with the signing of an agreement between the Weapons Research Establishment and the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The first joint tracking station was completed at Woomera in South Australia in March 1958. The Orroral Valley, south-west of Canberra, was an ideal site for another tracking station as its high surrounding ridges shield antennae from radio interference. Construction on the 40-acre site started in November 1964 and was completed in July 1965 at a cost of over $2 million. NASA installed equipment valued at $1.5 million. The Orroral Valley Tracking Station was part of NASA’s worldwide Space Tracking and Data Acquisition Network established to track, communicate with and control, scientific earth satellites.

Together with Tidbinbilla and Honeysuckle Creek, Orroral Valley was involved with all the unmanned probes, the Apollo manned flights to the Moon and, subsequently, the unmanned deep space missions to Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.

Acknowledgements: Extract from Captivating and Curious: celebrating the collection of the National Museum of Australia. Published Canberra : National Museum of Australia Press, 2005. 

Photograph George Serras, National Museum of Australia