I am a member of the Space Topics Study Group of the USA and the Australian Space Research Institute as this helps me to keep in touch with the progress of space activities worldwide. My own interest in this particular hobby started in the middle sixties when I was an employee of the then Weapons Research Establishment known as (WRE) where I lived and worked with my family on the Woomera Instrumented Range. I was a member of the “Woomera Fire Brigade " (now changed to Woomera Emergency Services). Employed in the carrying out of many duties relating to my position in the Fire, Ambulance and Airfield Crash Rescue section. These duties were carried out in the huge prohibited area within the Commonwealth Hill, Ingomar, Mabel Creek and other numerous sheep and cattle stations that surrounded the ' Woomera Instrumented Range'.
It was during this early period of my working life at Woomera that I commenced the hobby of collecting "Astro Philatelic envelopes” envelopes with a space-oriented theme. In 1976 however due to declining trial activity on the range I was transferred to the now (Defence Science and Technology Organization) based at Salisbury in South Australia. I still continued to follow my hobby however and early in 1984 I started to compile a more concise record of the variety and quantity of commemorative envelopes that had been produced for the launchings of these rockets. I obtained this information from some of the documentation supplied to me by the various individuals who had produced these envelopes. Over the years I have been able to contact other persons who were involved in the early production of those commemoratives, two of whom unfortunately have now passed away. It was fortunate that I saved this information because I now had some sort of back up record that I could use to check some of the older issues that are sometimes offered at auction sales. I had found a few variations when checking some of my recent acquisitions when the recorded date on the envelope differed from the actual launch date of the rocket. However this did not happen often and generally the envelopes seemed to match the information that was recorded on them. Some of the Universities who bought time and space on a project obviously wanted to keep a pictorial record of the trial series and produced a variety of these commemoratives. I have no knowledge as to how many were produced for each launch though as no one appears to have kept any records. However as I have been collecting them for nearly forty years I have gained a reasonable knowledge of the type of project that the envelopes were made for. So by checking that particular launch vehicle with the date of launch I can substantiate whether or not the detail on that particular commemorative envelope was correct.
The following photos of the rockets, envelopes and text show a selection of the different types of launch vehicles and mention a little of their history. All of the rockets pictured definitely had commemorative envelopes made for them and were launched from the Woomera Instrumented Range between the years starting as early as 1964 and up to the present day. Since 1987 I have been responsible for continuing to produce a very small limited edition of some 50, 75 or 100 of these envelopes for most of the worthwhile activities on the range. There were of course many other launchings of rockets, rounds and missiles from Woomera in those early days but these were not made known to the general public as they were on the restricted list. Just as a point of interest a small amount of WRE'S (Weapons Research Establishment) new sounding rockets with two exceptions were named after Australian birds. Cockatoo, Kookaburra, Corella and Jabirus for instance. Trials had commenced in Woomera from as early as 1947 but as far as I know there were no envelopes made for any trial activity until about the start of the HAT and HAD trials of Upper Atmosphere Research Rockets in the early sixties. I have updated my Island Lagoon site with pictures of the preparation of the site, several views of the Radar dishes, and the buildings and baker Nunn camera. There were commemorative envelopes made for the (Baker Nunn Camera) and Radar Dish, “pictured “at the NASA Deep Space Tracking Station at Island Lagoon. I have included all of the Australian tracking stations involved in projects during those busy early years of space exploration. These are followed by a selection of commemorative envelopes dated in order of their issue that were made for trial sequences which followed the setting up of this and other facilities on the range.