RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "Tidbinbilla"

NASA head visits Australia

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who visited Australia this week.

THE ADMINISTRATOR OF NASA, Charles Bolden, was in Australia this week, flying the flag and interacting with students at a number of venues across the east coast.

Mr Bolden, a former astronaut (with four shuttle flights) and a former Major-General in the US Marines, became NASA Administrator in 2009. He came into the job at a challenging time, as the global financial crisis was underway and with science budgets under intense pressure.

At a lecture at the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, Mr Bolden spoke of the work NASA does in space and here on Earth, and encouraged students in the audience to work hard and follow their dreams.

He praised the work done by the staff at the tracking station at Tidbinbilla near Canberra. Known as the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, it is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network, paid for the by the USA but staffed by Australians and managed by the CSIRO.

“Canberra is playing a critical role in tracking the Mars Science Laboratory that we’re going to be landing on Mars on August 6,” Mr Bolden said. “We’re really excited about everything they do.”

At the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Mr Bolden spent time with students and teachers involved in the Pathways to Space programme. Pathways to Space gives students a chance to learn more about science and technology by taking a “hands-on” approach, including operating rovers in a simulated Mars environment called the Mars Yard. They also get to work with professional scientists and engineers involved in space research.

The Mars Yard at the Powerhouse Museum

The Mars Yard, a simulated Mars environment, at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. This photo doesn't do it justice – it's a very slick working environment where students interact with science and technology professionals.

The Mars Yard at the Powerhouse Museum

Another view of the Mars Yard.

A remote-controlled Mars Yard rover

A remote-controlled rover in the Mars Yard.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the Mars Yard.

Administrator Bolden, more accustomed to flying space shuttles, takes the controls of one of the Mars Yard rovers.

Pathways to Space is a collaboration between the Powerhouse, the Federal Government, the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, and CISCO Systems.

Taking the controls of one of the rovers, Mr Bolden spoke about the importance of encouraging students to put their ambitions into action and to think big … making the point that today’s students will be tomorrow’s explorers of Mars.

Your editor had a brief moment to speak with Mr Bolden, and we discussed the rarity of having a NASA Administrator visit Australia.

“I’m told there was only one previous occasion, way back in 1973, when Administrator Fletcher visited Australia as part of dealings to help set up the Deep Space Network here,” Mr Bolden said. “Let’s hope it won’t be another 30 years before another Administrator gets the chance to visit.”

More information

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Pathways to Space

Powerhouse Museum

Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex

Story and images by Jonathan Nally. Bolden portrait image courtesy NASA.

Get daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Like this story? Please share or recommend it…

Aussie tracking stations honoured

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla near Canberra, a part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

  • NASA’s tracking stations in Australia
  • One current, two former
  • Made sites of Historic Aerospace Significance

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla and former tracking stations, Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley, near Canberra, have been honoured by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) as sites of Historic Aerospace Significance.

Managed by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), the CDSCC host a plaque-unveiling ceremony at Tidbinbilla on Tuesday, May 25.

The three ACT tracking stations are being recognised as part of the AIAA’s global register of Historic Aerospace Sites which includes other important sites such as; the NASA Ames Research Centre, Moffett Field, California; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.; and Tranquility Base on the Moon.

The former launch facility at Woomera, South Australia, is the only other AIAA Historic Aerospace Site in Australia.

This award recognises the significant role these three Australian tracking stations have played throughout the last 50 years, and the hundreds of men and women who have worked at each site in support of NASA’s manned and robotic space missions.

This recognition comes during the 50th anniversary of treaty-level cooperation between Australia and the US in space exploration.

“CSIRO is honoured to accept this designation on behalf of the dedicated alumni of the Honeysuckle Creek, Orroral Valley and Canberra Deep Space tracking stations,” said CDSCC Director Dr Miriam Baltuck.

“Australia’s role in the exploration of space has been ‘mission critical’ for over half a century, and we look forward with pleasure to continuing in that role in the decades to come.”

US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich attended the ceremony and AIAA President David Thompson (founder and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation) formally designated the three ACT sites.

Adapted from information issued by CSIRO.