Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum

Gemini-capsule-Carnarvon

Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum

Carnarvon is probably the last place that you would expect to find an excellent Space and Technology Museum.

For starters, Carnarvon is a long way from anywhere.

It is 913 kilometres north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.  With no towns at all on the main road between Northampton and Carnarvon – a distance of 428 kilometres.

It was precisely because of its location that Carnarvon was chosen by NASA as a communications station for its manned space ventures; specifically the Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions.

NASA built its tracking station 10 kilometres south of the town on top of a hill.

You can drive around the original site but, sadly, all that remains these days are the slabs where the buildings and satellite dishes once stood.

Just a couple of kilometres closer to town is the old OTC Satellite Earth Station, which formed part of a global communications system.

It is at this site that the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum has been established.

 

Origins of the Museum

The Museum is poorly funded, and is the result of a labour of love for a small, but dedicated, team of volunteers.

Considering the meagre resources that were available, the museum is a simply wonderful reminder of Carnarvon’s role in the space race to the moon.

The space communications station played a vital role in NASA’s space programme for it was the last station to communicate with the space capsules leaving the earth orbit, and the last to make contact with them before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The station, at its peak, employed 220 personnel, and they, and their families, made up a significant proportion of the town’s population, which even now consists of only about 4,500 people.

The museum consists of a lot of equipment that was used to communicate with the spacecraft, plus much audio visual material and a theatrette which shows films about the NASA programs, all of which is very well presented.

One of the most interesting exhibits is a full size replica of the Apollo Command Craft.  You enter the craft, lie on your back with your feet touching the ceiling, as the original Apollo astronauts did, close the door and experience takeoff, complete with actual audio and onboard vision, plus the realistic rumble of the capsule as it begins its journey skyward.

There is also a full size replica of the Gemini capsule, and both vessels make you realise just how compact they really were.

Whilst it is unrealistic to expect visitors to travel all that was to Carnarvon just to experience the Space and Technology Museum, it is certainly an experience that shouldn’t be missed when visiting the town.

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