Greetings from Carnarvon!
Letter from the Chairman
Australian Astronaut Andy Thomas' visit to Carnarvon to open Phase Two of the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum on September 19 - 20 was a huge success.
Thousands of hours work by our volunteers transformed the old OTC main operations building to our new home. Painting, electrical work, carpentry work, air conditioning, building, video productions the list is very long, but all came together...just in time. The following is my recollection of the 2014 Carnarvon Space Festival.
The two day visit by Andy Thomas commenced in Perth airport where he met nearly 50 space enthusiasts and supporters of the museum.
Following our two hour Skippers Aviation charter flight from Perth to Carnarvon, Andy was welcomed by Carnarvon Shire President Karl Brandenburg at a special meet and greet for the volunteers of the museum and former OTC and NASA Tracking Station staff.
The town tour and ceremonies continued when Andy spoke to over 400 children at St Marys school, followed by a Q & A session. Andy was very impressed with the questions asked of him.
Following an interview with Channel 7's Today Tonight program was the formal presentation by Andy at the "Woolshed." The lighting and decorations was just right, giving the venue a "spacey look which is in tune with the museum's look. Andy's presentation was perfect, with a mix of NASA videos and personal videos describing his experiences of being an astronaut... from Adelaide.
Approximately 200 people attended this fundraiser which was the highlight of the Carnarvon social calendar. We had lined up a special treat for the attendees, a live hook-up to the International Space Station, where we could ask current astronauts on the ISS questions. However at the last minute this was cancelled.
At the time no reason was given, but we found out later that it was due to an unscheduled space walk that needed to take place to make repairs to the ISS. Andy didn't want the kids that were going to ask the ISS astronaut a question to be disappointed, so he stood in his place. Having been to the ISS he was very qualified. Mark Cox also presented Andy and myself with a special tie pin. Today Tonight's Graeme Butler was the MC for the evening and did a great job.
Saturday September 20 was the official opening of Phase Two of the museum. Following speeches by Vince Catania, Karl Brandenburg, myself and Andy Thomas a now traditional part of the ceremony took place. This is where our visiting astronauts place their hands in a wet cement slab.
This has taken place since the 1960's with Alan Shepherd, Wally Schirra, more recently Buzz Aldrin and now Andy Thomas leaving a permanent memento of their visit to Carnarvon. We also raised the Australian flag for the first time on this site since it was closed in the 1980's.
A symbolic gesture to show that the small town of Carnarvon is now back in the space industry. Following the festivities a crowd of 150 people entered the new museum for the first time.
Inside they found many new displays, interactive computers, a new 50 seat theatre (thanks to a Lotterywest grant) and the most popular "ride" in Carnarvon..."The Apollo Experience".,/
This is a full size mock-up of an Apollo Command Module where you can climb in and feel what it was like to launch in Apollo 11. It is a video and surround sound experience that would not have occurred without the support of Neil Haring of Irvin Bullbars in Perth. He built and donated the capsule, and with the help of Phil Lentz, David O'Brien and Geoff Stewart made all the technical things work.
Well what a busy 9 months it has been since signing the lease for the former OTC building. I'd personally like to thank all of those who helped achieve my vision. I promised Paul Dench and the Trackers that I would deliver a museum acknowledging their important role in the space program. I hope they are as proud of it as I am.
A special thank you also to Andy Thomas who is one of the friendliest and easy to get along with guys I've met. He spent a lot more time speaking with anyone who wanted to speak to him along with signing autographs and being in countless photos.
Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum