Tag Archives: Space Archaeology

Orroral Valley Tracking Station

All the way back in February this year, I accompanied Alice Gorman on her field work at the former Orroral Valley Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park, Canberra. Also along for the ride was Rob Koch (Tafe SA) and Ian Moffat (ANU).

Of course, we happened to make the 15 hour car trip to Canberra on one of its wettest weekends since 2002. The average rainfall for February is 55.4mm – that weekend they received 104mm. The rain did not however curb our enthusiasm, we donned our rain coats and went about recording and mapping the site using differential GPS and geophysical techniques.

The Orroral Valley Tracking Station, operational from 1965, was established as part of NASA’s Spacecraft Tracking and Date Acquisition Network (STADAN). The station closed in 1985, and today is visible only through the foundations of the buildings, a ‘footprint’ left as a reminder of the past.

Over the past few months I have been partaking in a Practicum as part of my Masters in CHM. This has involved looking into the history and use of Microlock networks, Minitrack stations and Baker Nunn cameras (all used in the tracking of satellites) at Orroral Valley and within Australia. Hopefully, this will assist Alice in her attempts to record and document the site so that an in-depth understanding of its contribution to Australia’s space history can be established.

Stay tuned for my results…

Assessing Significance: Nigerian Space Programme #3

I finally completed my directed study last week! :)

The last part of my research was assessing the significance of the sites, artefacts and places and producing a statement of significance for each of them. I used the Australian Burra Charter to do this and its associated headings of scientific, historic, aesthetic and social value.

I have put a few reasons for why I found these sites, artefacts and places important below. There is much more to it however. If you’re interested you may find a copy of my study in the Flinders Library at some point.

So, I found that the six Nigerian Space Centres (dedicated to furthering education and space technologies) are historically significant for reasons like:

• They represent Nigeria’s determination to free itself from its problematic past through technological revolution and;

• All six of the centres have and will come to hold various artefacts that may be looked upon as historical objects associated with the programme at some time in the future.

I also assessed the significance of NigeriaSat-1 (Nigeria’s first satellite – part of a disaster monitoring constellation).

The social significance I found attached to NigeriaSat-1 was that:

• The successful launch of the satellite has come to be embraced by many Nigerian people as a central focus of national sentiment and pride: ‘”It makes me proud to be a Nigerian”’, said Prosper Sunday, a 27-year-old security guard in Lagos. “It shows our nation is progressing, we’ve joined the space age”’.

Lastly, I assessed NigComSat-1 (Nigeria’s second satellite).

I found it to hold social significance as:

• Popular terms for explaining the NigComSat-1 project by the Nigerian community became ‘debacle’ and ‘white elephant in space’, whilst one newspaper joked that ‘Nigeria has exported its electricity generation problems into space’. The satellite, unlike NigeriaSat-1 became a disappointment for many Nigerians who were left wondering why the government had spent so much money, and if in fact they had benefited from the project at all.

So that is my final blog about my directed study! This arvo I’m giving a presentation on my findings. I will tell you all about how this went next time!

Julia Garnaut

Space Heritage Sites

Well everyone the searching is over, as far as I know, and my search has not been totally exhaustive, there are five space heritage sites on national registers. I’m sure most people will guess the first one…. Cape Canaveral, but that is the only one that I had heard of. Many Cold War enthusiasts might have heard of the Newbrook observatory, but that is the only other potentially well-known site I found. That doesn’t mean the sites I found were unimportant, just not known about. Of course if you are all really excited about what they were and why they are important, feel free to find my hopefully, beautifully written and well received book in the Flinders library, as I think that is where one ends up.

The Nigerian Space Program Part 2…

So somehow it’s already the beginning of June, and I’m almost finished my study!!!

For those who missed my last post, my name is Julia and I have been working toward a directed study on the Nigerian Space Programme as part of my Masters in Cultural Heritage Management.

The aim is to find and assess all artefacts, sites and places associated with the programme. Obviously I can’t get on a plane and go to Africa, so most of my research has been internet based. Little has been written on the program thus far, so it’s kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together – and the puzzle just keeps getting bigger!!!

So far I have found six centres which were established to further the programme in all areas, including technology and education. I have assessed these as sites or places related to the space programme. I have also established Nigeria’s two launched satellites, NigeriaSat-1 and NigComSat-1 to be artefacts significant to the program.

My next step is to create significance statements for these sites, places and artefacts. Something I will attempt to do using the Burra Charter and understandings of historic, aesthetic, scientific and social significance.

Stay tuned!

Julia :)

Heritage of Space

Well things have been progressing quite nicely since the last time I posted here. My worldwide study of the protection of space heritage sites has now been reduced to looking at 14! On the plus side at least there are 14 nations that have online registers.

I’ve have searched all of the registers I could find, and if I can venture my personal opinion, the best one would probably be the one used by the USA, all the sites are split by category, or architect or location, whereas most other countries either have a LONG list of sites or only a keyword search engine which, unless you guess the right wording for the type of site you are looking for, makes my kind of searching rather difficult.

The downside that I have found is that most of the countries with large amounts of heritage sites, mainly the USA and UK, have not got complete records online, the USA hasn’t got around to digitising all of the paper ones, and the UK only has a handful of counties online. This means my worldwide search is now an incomplete search of a dozen countries….. Oh well, I suppose this is what happens.

Also out of the tens of millions of sites that can be found on all of these registers, the number of ones which have a space significance can be counted on one hand……. I get the feeling national governments do not place a high significance on these types of sites.