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1950's to present day


Australian Space Commemorative Envelopes.

Australian Tracking Stations


My information regarding the production of Commemorative Envelopes produced for Australia’s involvement in Tracking of Space Related Projects would not be complete without mentioning a variety of commemorative envelopes associated with some of the prominent Deep Space Tracking Stations set up in Australia.  There were a variety of these envelopes made for practically all of the Tracking Stations located around Australia in those early days. 

The first tracking devices came into operation in the International Geophysical Year in 1957. These were the Satellite tracking Minitrack Systems at Woomera in South Australia’s Outback.   These were put to good use when testing the first Australian Long Tom Rocket and other missile testing programs. No commemorative envelopes were made for any of these early projects however as they were all on the restricted list at that time

Early in 1960 the Australian Government and the United States of America agreed to cooperate in space flight programs. This led to the formation of a number of Tracking stations which would form a vast worldwide network controlled by (NASA) the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. Australia’s Department of Supply was responsible for fulfilling their part in this agreement.

 In South Australia the first Deep Space Tracking Station to be established outside of the United States was set up. The was the Deep Space Tracking Station at Island Lagoon situated adjacent to a Salt Lake in a low lying area protected from interference from radios and road traffic interference.  This station although run by NASA was manned by an Australian staff of about 100 plus at that time.  Island Lagoon is mentioned in a separate section on my web-page.

Also installed at Woomera in South Australia were two quite large self contained Instrumentation posts, one at Mirikata 185 kilometres downrange from Woomera, and the other at Red Lake 40 kilometres from Woomera.  It was a surprise to me to find that a few commemorative envelopes were cancelled at these installations.  Other Space Tracking Stations were soon to be set up, one in particular being that of a portable Tracking Station called

Munchea.  This was located near Perth in Western Australia and was opened in 1960. It was used in conjunction for tracking the Mercury and Gemini probe projects.  This site was the only site outside of the USA that was able to send commands to the spacecraft at that time.  The remainder of the Tracking Stations used could only collect data.  I am not aware of any covers produced from this tracking station although I do have all of the Gemini project covers from the USA. This tracking Station was closed in 1963 when Carnarvon and several other stations were opened in Australia.

Carnarvon Western Australia.   This NASA Tracking Station was built to support the Gemini and Apollo projects, and there were a variety of covers produced for these launches. The OTC Earth Station was built to facilitate communications between the NASA Tracking Station and USA.  These two stations were linked by land lines.  This tracking station was opened in late 1966 replacing Munchea and was closed in 1975. There were quite a large amount of commemorative envelopes created for most of the Apollo flights.

Gove situated on the extreme north eastern tip of Arnhem Land was the site for the Down Range Guidance and Telemetry Station (DRGTS) used for the orbital tests of the F 1 ELDO Launches.  This Tracking Station was closed down in 1974 There were quite a number and variety of envelopes made for all of the Apollo projects and I have a large selection of these.

Tidbinbilla   (ACT)   was situated about 40 kms from Canberra and was conceived between 1963 / 64 and opened in 1965. At that time other than the tracking device at Munchea this was the only working tracking station.  This station was setup as Station 42 to support Deep Space Probes for the Manned Space Program and manned space missions.  It is still in existence today and has four large antennas and the largest steerable parabolic antenna in the Southern Hemisphere.  It was kept very busy during days of the Mariner, Apollo and Voyager space missions. There were quite a large selection of envelopes produced for this Tracking station and I have quite a lot of those.

Orroral Valley (ACT)   this tracking Station although started in 1962 was not officially opened until 1966. It became part of the (STADAN) Satellite Tracking and Data Relay Network.  This was situated 40 kms from Canberra and was closed in 1985. There were a large number of envelopes produced for all the projects from this tracking station and I have a selection of those.

Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station   (ACT)    in 1965 / 66 this tracking station was built to support the manned Space flight missions. It was run by the Goddard Space Flight Centre for the lunar space program, tracking lunar landing and the Skylab project. Quite a large number of envelopes were produced for this Tracking Station for all of the programs. I have a large selection of these tracking envelopes and the complete Skylab project cancels.  In 1974 when the Skylab program finished Honeysuckle creek joined the Deep Space Network and became known as DSS 44. There were quite a large number of covers produced with this designation applied.  This station closed in 1981 and the large 25 metre antenna was sent to Tidbinbilla and this was renamed DSS 46 and was used for tracking the Apollo series of launches. I have also a collection of those envelopes. 

Cooby Creek 1966, another mobile tracking Station situated near Toowoomba in a secluded valley (similar to the Island Lagoon Station) and was situated in the Darling Downs of Southern Queensland Australia. This station was set up to monitor the test flights of various types of satellites.  This station closed in 1970, a variety of envelops were produced for these projects.

Narrabri, New South Wales, Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Culgara.  Siding Springs is the collective name for all of the telescopes sited on Mt Woorut near Coonabarabran. Most of these places had commemorative envelopes cancelled for the tracking covers of projects associated with launches at that time.  A small selection of these is shown on my web page.

There are a few envelopes made for other tracking Stations such as Mirikata, Red Lake (near Woomera) and Nurrungar.  These are few in number but pictured are one of each type.

Parkes in New South Wales.

Was officially opened in 1961 and with its 64 metre radio telescope was a vital link with the Apollo spacecraft in the 60s and its major support role was with the Apollo 11 moon landing project in 1969. It was used in all of the Apollo series of launches. There were quite a large number of covers made for the entire Apollo project. 

Moree Satellite Earth Station NSW.

A variety of commemorative envelopes were cancelled at this tracking station in NSW.

During the early days of the Gemini and Apollo projects a vast number of commemorative envelopes were cancelled at a variety of places by individuals, companies and institutions throughout the world. I have a collection of quite a number of those bought sight unseen in postal auctions. 

Parkes telescopes
Tidbinbilla telescope
Narrabri telescopes
Mount Strombo telescope
Island Lagoon telescope