Mars Live – Australian Tour

Mars Live Australian Tour
Mars Live – 20% Off

Presented by: National Geographic Live – Mars Live!

Exploration has always been a defining feature of what it means to be Human. Today this distinctly Human trait is as strong as ever with the exploration of space at the forefront of our achievements. Many believe that Mars represents our future and our ability to ensure the survival of the Human race.

Human exploration and an eventual permanent presence on Mars is no longer a distant dream but a realistic objective for the human race.

For the first time, National Geographic Live is bringing the world’s leading authorities together for a unique major live event to discuss global space agency plans and the immense challenges awaiting Humankind’s next great space adventure.

Mars Live! Be there and join our Host Ray Martin as he presents live on stage, Apollo Legend and Mars advocate ‘Buzz Aldrin’, with leading authorities from US and European global space agencies including Prof. Mark McCaughrean Senior Science Advisor European Space Agency in a world first National Geographic Live event. Special guest appearance by Astrophysicist Dr Katherine Mack.

Using stunning images and footage from global space agencies and National Geographic Channel’s landmark new television series ‘MARS’, directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer, audiences will experience live an exciting journey to the Red Planet our future new home.


Would you like to catch up with me –Robert Brand –  at or before the Sydney event? Leave a comment on this page and I will organise what we will be doing – possibly an early get together before the Mars Live event, but certainly a huge opportunity to meet with some of great people that love space that live around Sydney.


CLICK HERE FOR 20% DISCOUNT: www.ticketek.com.au/mars20

Packages

SYDNEY ONLY VIP COCKTAIL PARTY
CANBERRA ONLY PREMIUM VIP
MELBOURNE ONLY PREMIUM VIP

Mars Live Tour Dates:
Ticketek is selling for the following venues only

Fri 4 Nov 2016
Melbourne Town Hall, VIC
Sun 6 Nov 2016
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Mon 7 Nov 2016
Llewellyn Hall, Canberra, ACT

Save on Low Cost Payloads to the Stratosphere

Save with payloads to the StratosphereOFFER EXTENDED TO 21 Nov 2016

Save A$1,100 on Sending Payloads to the Stratosphere.

We are trying to fill our calendar with low cost flights to the Stratosphere so you save A$1,100 min each flight. Our minimum price is usually $3,000 carried out by the world’s most successful team. 28 flights to date.

Our flights are conducted in Australia but you don’t have to live here to have us fly your payload.

Save: Save with the most consistent team on the planet.bookings can be up to 12 months in advance, but the promotion is only valid for 2 weeks and expires on:

Midnight the 21st Nov 2016.

Book a flight for your payload and then, when we give you a price, claim and save with your discount of $1,100. This way you know that we are giving you the real deal. All deposits must be made by 22nd Nov 2016 over the counter and as usual are not refundable. We immediately order gas, book travel, accommodation and register the flight with CASA, Rex Airlines, QantasLink and others. In other words, it compensates for work and other material bought or held aside for your flight.

Commercial work starting from A $1,900

Book and save in the next 2 weeks and we will cut the basic price to $1,900. We still require $1,500 up front for the balloon, gas, labour and other costs before the flight, but you would be getting the world’s best high altitude team. After 28 flights in Croatia and Australia, HABworx has recovered all payloads

We have been helping others make the most incredible flights for amazing reasons. There are always cameras, but our customers have their own requirements. We have had signage change during flight; we have taken up 360 degree immersive video cameras, radio systems; sensors and musical noise makers.

UpLift-19 Space ChickenWe have flown payloads for :

  • Bulla Cloud9 Yogurt online advertising
  • Several record launches
  • Conservation (Karl the Cassowary)
  • Art (Sounds in the Stratosphere)
  • Science competition (20 experiments flown in Croatia)
  • Science Week education – Albury lectures tracking a live flight
  • Product launches
  • Sydney University – Science
  • Toyota Team Bonding.
Balloon Burst4 seconds after the event - UpLift-19

Balloon Burst 4 seconds after the event – UpLift-19

What you get:

  • The most consistent team on the planet – with a 100% recovery success with 28 payloads released (at time of publication).
  • Released 2 flights in Croatia
  • Working with Murdoch University and a UK University for 2 separate Mars missions that will require precision balloon flights.
  • The experience of 28 flights under our belts.
  • Difficult projects that require old and new logo reveals, multiple cameras and 360 degree photography.
  • Ground photography of the release site and in vehicle photography of the chase.
  • Drone photography of the release site.
  • We will even wear special suits and tee shirts for the project.
  • Save $1,100 per flight.

Listen to what a difference a high altitude balloon campaign can make.

Hear and see more directly from the customer!:

Below is one the individual flights.

That was me (Robert Brand – the head of HABworx) in the closing scenes picking up the payload. It was definitely frozen! We limited the height of payloads by the size of the balloon fill. This ensured that they would come down before warming in the stratosphere. There were 41 people involved for 2 days in central NSW. The projects can be big or small – it is up to you.

Contact: contact @ projectthunderstruck . com   —  remove the spaces!

Save by using a small team. The locals always take an interest.We will give you a price for your project that will make it a reality!

The price of $1,900 would be a single flight in central NSW with 2 to 3 cameras (yours!) to usually above 30Km. We provide the tracking and everything else for the flight. You can even  track the flight from your armchair at home – or come with us for the adventure of releasing the balloon and tracking the payload to a field and recovering the payload!

Email me with your flight request and finalise payment within 2 days and let us send your payload to the Stratosphere.

A Guide to Prices and How to Save

  • Basic Price $3,000: We fly your payload with our trackers – Up to 4Kg – 2.5Kg will usually get to 30Km altitude or more). We travel 6 hours drive to West Wyalong on day 1, fill and release early on day 2; recover the payload and return home on day 2
  • $1,000 for additional per day for any customer reason (excluding second balloon flight).
  • $2,000 for additional balloon flight and recovery on the following day
  • $2,000 for a second tracking team for their first flight
  • $1,000 for a second tracking team for additional flights
  • $2,000 for us to build the payload and provide cameras (GoPros) for any flights with small mascots or logos – excluding new logo reveals.
  • $1,000 for a reveal mechanism – pulls the old logo away and reveals the new logo.
  • Other work will need to be discussed and quoted.
UpLift-28 Released. Our latest flight. The customers will tell you that we saved them a lot of money compared to doing it themselves.

UpLift-28 Our latest flight. The customers will tell you that we saved them a lot of money compared to doing it themselves.

Our Growing Tracking Ability

Our Pajero Tracking VehicleJan 2016

Pajero Tracking Vehicle Update

So lets look at what my son, Jason (14), and I have done and are doing about our tracking vehicle. We will have more, but we are planning on at least having our 4WD SUV ready for anything that is headed our way, but tracking is all important. Note that this tracking article appeared on our Project ThunderStruck website some months ago. read more

Lots of Balloon Flights

LaunchA-3Space Rich, Time Poor

It has been too long since we posted about our activities in space. I apologise. We have been so busy and time to do “things” has been scarce. Website updates have stopped for some time. None the less we have still been doing balloon flights. Yes, that is my son Jason (14) and me releasing the first balloon flight in this set. (image right)

We did 4 flights recently in Australia: UpLift-24 to UpLift-27. The project is under commercial wraps for the moment but I can say that it was a  set of weather balloon flights for a big company. They were for their internal restructuring and next few years of corporate direction. Because of the importance of the project, we had several camera including a 360 degree x 240 degrees video camera. We will have the entire 360 degree video available once the company concerned uses it internally.These snaps are from that camera The camera uses a fish eye lens and the software allows the image to decompress and normalise the view. This means that you can, with your PC or smart phone, that you can look around the image. Look in front, look down, look left, right or rear. It is like sitting in a bubble under the payload and balloon.

So I have taken 5 frames from the video and looked around the frame in 4 different directions. Because it is an extremely wide angle lens, the images closest are very big. Jason thus looks very big compared to me in the above image. None the less, there will be nothing but a few clouds near the camera once we leave the ground. Here are 4 images from each frame. The town is Rankins Springs in NSW, Australia. Balloon Central in Australia.

The Balloon Release:

LaunchA-3   LaunchA-2

LaunchA-1   LaunchA-4

10 Metres off the Ground:

LaunchB-4   LaunchB-3

LaunchB-1   LaunchB-2

60 Metres off the Ground

LaunchC-4   LaunchC-3

LaunchC-2   LaunchC-1

The Balloon Above the Clouds

3km-4   3km-3

3km-2   3km-1

The Balloon in the Stratosphere:

Max-4   Max-3

Max-2   Max-1

You can click on each of the images for a full screen view. As I said, these are clips from a single frame from a video. We will soon be able to show you the full 360 degree fully immersible video. You can even use a VR headset or google Cardboard. Please enjoy these images for the moment.

No, we are not being obsessive about dust – it was for the video for the company. It will be magnificent. We had cameras mounted on the tracking vehicle looking forward and back to the windscreen. There was even a drone following the launch and above the tracking vehicle traveling down the highway and down dirt roads. More on these videos as soon as we can release the videos.

Oh yeh – We still have 100% recovery rate – 27 flights and 27 recoveries. There were night recoveries with this one. Two were in the dark! A first for us.

Moving House – the Essential Workshop

Building a New Workshop in Limited Space.

Warning – mess in progress!

It seems simple – move house, but setting up my home office and rebuilding my aerospace workshop has been a demanding exercise, but we are on the last legs of the work. The workshop requires a lot of connectivity and power. It is a last ditch line of defense against loss of power and connectivity. So what does it have:

  • 240 volt mains power
  • 2 banks of 48v batteries
  • 2 x 12v feeds (from the 48v batteries via 2 down inverters)
  • 240 volt AC inverter
  • Provision for solar power DC (coming)
  • A wired data link to one of our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – we have 2 x ADSL and one via cable
  • A dedicated PC
  • Off air TV and links to my NAT and media server
  • Links to my 2 digital TV records and receivers
  • HF, VHF and UHF antennas
  • HF 100w HAM transceiver
  • APRS Kenwood D710 UHF and VHF transceiver
  • Test equipment.
  • Video surveillance (and its recording media and interface to the Internet is not necessarily in the garage).
  • Oh yes, tools of course and a small bar refrigerator for summer
  • Also soon we will have an air compressor and a power generator.

In fact we have less space than at our old house, but we will have much better facilities. This means it is currently hard to place the tools anywhere until we are finished, but you will get the idea of what it will look like. Jason and I will have opposite sides of a workbench. At the moment a smaller bench top is in place to make it easy during construction.

In the picture below you can see the smaller workbench covered with tools and construction gear. Also you can see the two racks for power and radio equipment. Beside them you can see the sets of small draws for small objects. Behind the workbench are some of the test equipment and lab power supplies, speakers and some of the outlets that will go on the strip of word below the shelf. The bench top will be twice as wide as the one shown here. Under the all in one PC in the left side of the shelving, you can see Jason’s HF radio and antenna tuner.

It takes a while to set this all up. Please excuse the mess for one more week until finished.

Workshop being built

Below you will see the wooden strip that will house a variety of inputs and outputs. I am holding one unit with 3 stereo inputs or outputs, an “N” connector and 2 earth points. As I will be drilling out the wood, I will not need the mounting blocks so the panels will be flush with the wooden surface. Other units have a variety of RF connectors, RJ45 data connectors, switched 12 v outlets, switched 50V outlets, Speaker connectors, USB connectors, mains connectors and much more. I was drilling the holes in the wood for the panels when I took this photo – you can see the sawdust below the panel on the next shelf down.

DSCF2108

Below I have secured power boards, audio amplifiers and a data switch under the shelf to save space. Below the data switch and to the right you can see one of the units to go on the wooden panel. It has the RJ45 and the switched 12 supply – these are connected via circuit breaker of course. You can see the LED to indicate that power is present.

Workshop being built

Below: Of course what every aerospace workshop needs – a good supply of helium gas.

Workshop being built helium bottles

I will revisit the workshop when finished and you will see the final outcome. This is a work in progress and although there is a lot of stuff on the workbench, this will disappear as we become more organised. Soon we will have peg board to hang the large tools and better organisation of the stuff currently stored in boxes.

Two Commercial Balloon Flights (HAB)

UpLift-1 Securing the neck and the payloadTwo Commercial Balloon (HAB) Bookings

Along with our other aerospace work and some non-commercial flights we have new bookings for two commercial balloon flights – one in August and one in September. These will be normal flights and both will have our new cutdown system onboard. We expect to operate it and full test it even if the balloon bursts first.

Both commercial flights are for advertising and we are seeing an upturn in the number of bookings we are receiving.

General Update:

Lots happening:

The WotzUp website was down for 2 weeks. It appears that they gave me the wrong restoration file! it was empty. I finally found a support person that finally understood my problem and tonight we are back “on the air” – just back on hour ago from the time of this post.

Jason is well involved with the Riverwood Squadron of the Australian Air League here in Sydney. They meet on Friday nights at 7pm. You can find your nearest squadron here:  http://www.airleague.com.au/

I now publish the daily Space News. Sure you can scan the news on the right on my Twitter feed, etc, but you can also get it in a daily publication:  http://paper.li/robertbrand/1407014053

Apollo 11 45th Interview – GLXP

Hangout 006 GLXP Apollo 11 45thRobert Brand is a Special Guest for Apollo 11 GLXP Hangout.

Not much to say, but to follow the link below and be part of the Apollo 11 special event for the Google Lunar X Prize Team Hangout. I am part of Team Stellar – one of the GLXP teams

Many of you will not know that I was one of the many OTC employees that worked on the Apollo 11 comms here in Sydney. I was 17 years old at the time doing work experience. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the regular staff needed help. OTC was Australia’s government run international carrier. It was merged with our national carrier when the country deregulated the telco sector in 1992.

I will be discussing my experiences wiring up the Apollo 11 gear in Sydney – not that this was an amazing event, but since I am part of a group building a mission to go to the moon with a Rover, it appears that I am about the only person in the GLXP with a connection to the Apollo 11 event. I have learned a lot from others in the old company where I worked and from personal research. Hopefully I will do an adequate job. I was 17 years old back on the day of the landing.

http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/blog/connect-explorers-watch-google-lunar-xprize-team-hangouts

Note that although the poster states the time as 6PM PST, the time is actually daylight saving time 6PM PDT – That is 11am Sydney time.

I bumped into Buzz Aldrin 2 months ago when I was presenting a talk at Spacefest in Pasadena. I have learned a lot about the missions by talking with these guys.

Buzz Aldrin at Spacefest 2014

Buzz Aldrin at Spacefest 2014

Sydney video scan converter. Photo by Richard Holl left yo right: Ted Knotts, Dick Holl and Elmer Fredd standing in front of the Parkes scan converter at OTC Paddington following the mission

Sydney video scan converter. Photo by Richard Holl left to right: Ted Knotts, Dick Holl and Elmer Fredd standing in front of the Parkes scan converter at OTC Paddington following the mission

Robert Brand – Speaker

Robert Brand Speaking at Spacefest VI 2014

Need a Speaker for that Special Dinner?

Want a passionate and entertaining speaker for your event? Someone that motivates, tells a story with enthusiasm and clarity, someone that has done it all!

Robert spoke at Spacefest in Pasadena, Ca in May 2014 and received comments such as “that presentation alone was worth the cost of registration”.

Twitter messages continued for weeks after the event. This one from @cybernova: Reminiscing on how incredible the 3D images of Mars and the lunar landing looked. Huge thanks to @robertbrand for putting that together! – 29 May 2014

So why the excitement? Robert is a skilled presenter who speaks about topics ranging from Space to Inspiring kids to think big.

Robert presenting in CroatiaYes Space! Robert is one of Australia’s leading space entrepreneurs and building space services and some a space craft. At the age of 17 he even worked on the Apollo 11 switching centre in Sydney that brought the world the feed of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Since then he has worked in supported most of NASA’s Apollo missions, Skylab, Voyager and was stationed at the Parkes Telescope for ESA’s Giotto probe to Halleys Comet.

Robert worked in Communications for these space events, but at the age of 59 migrated quickly into the Space sector, making an instant hit world wide. He has appeared many times on ABC Radio on such shows as Linda Mottram’s Morning Show in Sydney (702), Richard Glover’s Drive (702) The Science Show, Radio Australia’s Breakfast Club and many stations around Australia.

ABC Radio’s Linda Mottram: Robert Brand’s expansive vision for Australia in aerospace is inspiring and exciting. He has the kind of energy and vision that could easily make Australia a leader. How starkly it contrasts with the mundane pronouncements from political leaders that leave so many of our best brains running for the door.

Internationally he has appeared on Radio in the UK, The Space Show in the US and This Week in Science (US). He has also had many TV appearances in Australia commenting on current space matters.

Robert speaks regularly at Spacefest in the US where he competes for a speaking spot with space experts from all over the world. He has spoken for the last 3 consecutive years on the same program as Apollo astronauts, mission controllers, planetary scientists and the key note speakers like Prof. Brian Cox (UK) and Dr Carolyn Porco. He has also spoken at ISDC and space conferences throughout Australia as well as Engineers Australia. The video below shows Robert and his son Jason (12) in Croatia launching balloons and being interviewed on Croatian TV. Robert is not just someone that did something great in the past, he is pushing forward into new and amazing frontiers.

Robert’s subjects although they appear mainly science and space oriented; include:

  • Motivating youth to achieve their goals
  • 3D slide presentations
  • Using Social Media to accelerate career change
  • Thinking outside of the box to stimulate new ideas and create change when budgets diminish
  • Wild Sports. Diving with sharks, cave diving, flying ultralights, gliding, climbing, abseiling, etc
  • Stratospheric balloons – 19 successful flights and recoveries – breaking records.

His presentation slides are mainly original material from many of his exploits, balloon and space work, but he does not repeat any text from the screen. His presentations are all about natural speech and because “he knows his stuff” he talks effortlessly to engage the audience.

Robert and Jason presenting in CroatiaHe sometimes speaks with his 12 year old son Jason. Jason is an accomplished speaker and demonstrates how a young mind can grow when not limited by normal constraints. Jason will be attempting to break the sound barrier with a Radio Controlled aircraft in the next 12 months. He will fly it as if he is in the cockpit using a video radio link and home built equipment all of his design.

Jason has spoken at Engineers Australia with his father and in front of 100 scientists in Croatia.

Robert Brand’s speaking fees are $3,000 for a dinner, lunch or breakfast engagement in Sydney. Other cities or engagements will need to be subject to a quotation.

As an introductory offer, for 2014, his standard fee, if booked direct, will be 50% off.

$1,500

Robert’s style is passionate and energetic and he moves and gesture a lot. Boring is not in his vocabulary. He sometimes challenges the audience so there is usually a bit of interaction. He also uses the occasional prop. A cordless microphone is preferred. A projector and laser pointer are essential and he must use my own PC if doing a 3D presentation.

Balon Stellar - Stratosfera 30km and RoverRobert is also the head of the Communications, Tracking and Data for Stellar – a space company sending a rover to the moon in the next three years. Jason is the Australian Student Representative. Together they travel internationally to talk about Space and to launch Stratospheric Balloons with student payloads to help stimulate space science in those countries. They have just returned from Croatia.

Robert will speak at “no cost” or a cost recovery basis on occasional Radio and TV interviews as well as presentations for small associations, not for profit groups and student focused groups. Simply ask.

Call +61 448 881 101

Robert and Jason presenting in Croatia

Our New Online Shop Opening Soon

Totex 100 gram Red BalloonGreat News – Our Shop is Opening Soon

We will be setting up an online shop and selling weather balloons, balloon equipment, radio systems and much more for those interested in flying High altitude weather balloons and much more. I will also be selling general comms equipment from time to time and HAM radio equipment to verified HAM radio operators. Keep watching!

Note that we are located in Australia and the shop is for the convenience of Australians who may not be able to wait for a delivery from overseas. We will not be the cheapest, but we will be the best.

Right now I have 44 x 100 gram Totex Red Balloons ($20 each), some 350 gram weather balloons ($50 each) and 2 x 3kg weather balloons. These 3Kg balloons are well over their expiry date (maybe about 3 years old – good for displays ($150 each). If you want any of these you will need to contact me on 0448 881 101.

I will calculate postage by Australia post depending on what you order. eg 500 gram express post bag can handle 4 X 100 gram balloons + bubble wrap and costs $15. The same to New Zealand will be $20 postage; to the US $25 postage and to anywhere else $30 postage.

Balloon specs here: http://www.esands.com/pdf/Meteorology/Totex_TA_Balloons_070213_web.pdf for Totex

We will be supplying NEW Totex weather balloons, although we may have the odd balloon from another supplier for time to time. I can also organise large orders if needed.

Totex 100 gram Red Weather Balloon Box

ITAR and Australia – Not Happy!

Tidbinbilla NASA Deep Space Network DSN 70m dishThe US ITAR Regulations and Australia

My rant for the day about ITAR. Well, I am ranting about ITAR most days! It is a rather difficult situation where another country’s regulations are imposed on your country. Well how did this happen? First I had better explain what ITAR is. This from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Traffic_in_Arms_Regulations

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of United States government regulations that control the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML). These regulations implement the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), and are described in Title 22 (Foreign Relations), Chapter I (Department of State), Subchapter M of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) interprets and enforces ITAR. Its goal is to safeguard U.S. national security and further U.S. foreign policy objectives. The related Export Administration Regulations (Code of Federal Regulations Title 15 chapter VII, subchapter C) are enforced and interpreted by the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Commerce Department. The Department of Defense is also involved in the review and approval process. Physical enforcement of import and export laws at border crossings is performed by Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

Simply put, Australia has forged a close trade alignment with the USA and to obtain those trade concessions, we had to agree to ITAR. This makes it very difficult indeed to work in the space sector and still obey Australian laws and ITAR. One simple issue is Australian Discrimination law. These are strong and rigidly enforced and in essence making everyone equal. Even those with temporary visas that allows work in Australia. There are also those with dual or multiple citizenship and ITAR has issues with this. It even affected NASA’s Australian Deep Space Network near Canberra. I was there last April and recently posted this on Facebook:

I was invited to NASA’s 40th Anniversary celebrations of the 70m (230ft) diameter dish at their Deep Space Network (DSN) site near Canberra in Australia. It was in April 2013 – earlier this year. Note the three flags in the image below – the US, Australian and CSIRO. The CSIRO is an Australian organisation that has been contracted to run the site for many years – CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.  Continued below…

IMG_0827
Australia has close security arrangements with the US and we have access to ITAR restricted material under special trade arrangements with the US government. Australia is therefore somewhat controlled by the ITAR regulations in unusual ways. CSIRO ran into issues with ITAR as some of their employees were legally citizens from other countries. This is a bit of a red flag under ITAR rules and it is also a breach of Australian law if you remove staff from certain areas because of race – we have strong anti-discrimination laws here in Australia. The only way that we got around this was to absorb all the Australian DSN staff into the government as government employees and that satisfied ITAR. So basically we now have rules written by a foreign government that are also enforced in Australia – crazy. I guess if they change ITAR, we also have to change!

I am glad that we have good security arrangements with the US, but it is hard for me to work in the space sector when one of my main aerospace engineers at PlusComms holds three passports! I remain concerned about the ITAR minefield I am crossing in my company.

This is also a minefield for our team in the Google Lunar X-Prize – Stellar Aerospace – our new name. We have many countries involved and their laws on exporting knowledge and equipment are all part of the equation.

Robert Brand

Slingshot Effect

Robert brand 2013Also Free Return Trajectory

I mentioned in a recent post on another website (Facebook) about the real issues about “slingshot Effect” and what it really was all about.

The following is a short bit of discussion on that. It has relevance to my current work as Tim Blaxland and I are working on Stellar’s Google Lunar X Prize documentation. Tim (below) is Stellar’s navigator or to use a more colourful word, our “Astrogator”. He joined the discussion.

Tim BlaxlandThere was some small confusion as I was aware of the Apollo free return trajectory. Note that my comments refer to the fact that even with free return, there are rockets and thrusters to be fired / used for a number of different reasons such as speed and improving the target of the flight. Apollo 13 yhad added dificulty as the lunar module’s thrusters were not arond the centre of gravity of the mass and those steering the three joined vehicles were at the rear end of the vessel.

I will add more detail if there are more posts on the subject.

I was asked about “slingshot effect” and found the wiki article is reasonable for a beginner. It is hard to understand the finer points of the poorly named effect.

This gives the basic info. Obviously it is never as simple as the basic equation as you can pretty much never change direction 180 degrees. If you tried to do this with the moon to slingshot back to earth, the gravity and speed would be wrong. No matter what you would need engines to get the equation right for an earth return. The further away you are, the less the effect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_slingshot

Gravity assist – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org

In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement (e.g. orbit around the sun) and gravity of a planet or other celestial body to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, typically in order to save prop…
Cassini_interplanet_trajectoryThis from Wikipedia about the above diagram:The Cassini probe – multiple gravity assistsThe Cassini probe passed by Venus twice, then Earth, and finally Jupiter on the way to Saturn. The 6.7-year transit was slightly longer than the six years needed for a Hohmann transfer, but cut the extra velocity (delta-v) needed to about 2 km/s, so that the large and heavy Cassini probe was able to reach Saturn, which would not have been possible in a direct transfer even with the Titan IV, the largest launch vehicle available at the time. A Hohmann transfer to Saturn would require a total of 15.7 km/s delta-v (disregarding Earth’s and Saturn’s own gravity wells, and disregarding aerobraking), which is not within the capabilities of current launch vehicles and spacecraft propulsion systems.

  • Hitesh ॐ Mohan “Although the lunar landing was aborted (Apollo 13), the crew continued toward the moon and circled it so its gravity could provide a slingshot effect for the return to Earth.”

    http://sservi.nasa.gov/…/

    sservi.nasa.gov

    Apollo 13 Commander Remembers the Aborted Moon MissionApollo 13 crew arrive on the prime recovery ship U.S.S. Iwo Jima following the ocean landing and rescue in the South Pacific. Exiting the helicopter are (from left) Fred Haise, mission Commander James Lovell and John Swigert. Click to Enlarge. Cr…

  • Kurt Kammeyer Technically, it was called a “free return trajectory”.
  • Robert Brand you still have a lot of maneuvering and firing of rockets / thrusters to make that happen. Things have to be very precise.
  • Robert Brand “After circling the Moon once and creating a speedy free-lunar return trajectory, the LM descent engine was fired twice to establish an even faster return path. The descent engine was fired twice during the return flight to correct the spacecraft’s trajectory.”
  • Hitesh ॐ Mohan What was the escape velocity from the the moment the lunar module, escaped the lunar atmosphere and at what speed did the craft sail at to return home?
  • Robert Brand Firstly there is no lunar atmosphere (well, nothing to write home about). I do not know the speeds.Maybe someone can advise.
  • Royce Jones This effect could be used to help power a Starship.
  • Tim Blaxland Robert, you can do a free return, literally free. Apollo 8, 10 & 11 used this trajectory. I have simulated these trajectories to verify. Later missions didn’t use true free return trajectories because they were trying to squeeze more payload onboard and open up a wider range of landing sites. True free return trajectories we just too restrictive. The hybrid trajectories were similar but required some thrust to get back to Earth. The deviation of the hybrid trajectory from the free return trajectory was limited so that a return could be achieved using either the SPS, DPS or SM RCS (but not the LM RCS). There is a very good essay on the subject here:

    http://history.nasa.gov/afj/launchwindow/lw1.html.


    Launch Windows Essay
       history.nasa.gov
    Let’s go to the moon. When shall we go? Right away. Where shall we go? Copernicus, Gassendi, Marius Hills? Let choose along the way.
  • Robert Brand Great to know Tim. There must have been a very lucky relationship with the size of the moon, the orbital speed of the moon, etc. I understand that once the mass is big enough, it is all a matter of distance from the object to get the free return trajectory right, but I was unaware that the moon was right. None the less, as I said, if the free return was possible, it was going to take some firing of rockets / thrusters, etc to get her home because the trajectory would not have been accurate enough. I read that it was a free return, but there was no way they were escaping the need to burn the LEM descent engine – in this case – twice! The burn coming out of the moon was two fold – much of it was to give them more speed to hasten their return trip to get back to earth. The final one was to course correct or end up cinders. They still had to orient the capsule after jettisoning everything so that they did not skip off the earths atmosphere and into space. Plenty to go wrong. My point was that they had to use thrusters and engines to get home. It was not quite hybrid, but it was a real problem. With the thrusters gone on the service module and I believe the command module (could someone in the know verify), it is like driving a car from the trunk / boot. Very hard indeed. The thrusters would not have been in the centre of mass.
  • Tim Blaxland Yes, the CM RCS were disabled to keep enough energy in the CM batteries for reentry, along with everything else they could possibly turn off.
  • Robert Brand Yes, I believed that the thrusters were non operational on the CM.

13th Australian Space Science Conference Pt2

13th ASSC Uni NSWTriple Play in the Space Sector

by Robert Brand

As I mentioned in the last post, I was fortunate to present at the 13th Australian Space Science Conference at Sydney University a little over a week ago. The only unfortunate thing was a mix-up by yours truly and I ended up there on the wrong day. I was meant to be delivering a talk on “Triple Play in the Space Sector” and poor Alice Gorman, who was hosting the panel, was asking if I had turned up. My biggest apologies ever Alice!

I did however get a chance to present in the education stream and I am including this presentation here. My son Jason came along to help me as it was school holidays. Luckily every talk was about some of the work that he does with me, so it was pretty interesting most of the time.

Below is the PDF version of my PowerPoint presentation. It is interesting to note that we are doing so much that I can easily put together a complete presentation during a few other people’s talks. As you can see I gave my WotzUp website a plug!

You can download it here: Click to Download

Download (PDF, 1.4MB)

Robert Band at Spacefest IV 2012 (Archives)

Australia’s Space History at Spacefest IV

by Robert Brand.

As many of you know that I have recently moved into the Space sector, but I am not talking about just comms. I am talking about designing and engineering a space mission.

Because of this I was asked to speak at Spacefest IV. It was held at Tucson Arizona in the US. My talk was on a bit of the past and the future. In fact it was this talk detailing my experiments at 20-30km that got me the space mission job.

After 18 hours from waking to arriving at Las Angeles with no sleep, I drove the 10 hours to Tucson.Quite a trip and I did try to sleep and rest along the way, but managed to get there safely. It was an amazing resort (J. W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort) with a facilities you can only dream about like the massive circulation pool and water slide. This picture was taken close to my room.

I was in interesting territory. This all started just over 3 years ago when I was contacted to do an amateur radio moon bounce event to celebrate the Apollo 11 40th anniversary. Since then things have grown and I was drawn into amateur rocketry and amateur satellites. My balloon experiments at 20km and 30km got noticed as did my current attempt at purchasing the  Jamesburg Earth Station. I ended up on the speakers’ list at Spacefest IV and I was amongst some formidable speakers. I was amongst Apollo astronauts and moon-walkers, mission controllers and planetary geologists. I certainly had to given them their money’s worth (they were paying). Until my talk I was enjoying the visual feast of the area and the people. There were about 18 astronauts and mostly Apollo astronauts.

All the astronauts are pictured here – That’s Al Worden with his shoes off. He was getting annoyed at the long time it took to shoot the photos and got a little fidgety:

Above: There is a crew member from every manned Apollo flight represented in this photo. Apollo 7: Cunningham, Apollo 8: Gordon, Apollo 9: Scott, Apollo 10: Cernan, Apollo 11: Aldrin, Apollo 12: Bean, Apollo 13: Haise, Apollo 14: Mitchell, Apollo 15: Scott & Worden, Apollo 16: Duke, Apollo 17: Cernan, Skylab 2: Weitz, Skylab 3: Bean & Lousma, Skylab 4: Gibson, ASTP: Brand.

I even got to meet the elusive Buzz Above: Aldrin, but he does not let his guard down easily and unless you are signing a $400 autograph it is hard to speak with him..

My talk went over very well. I told the story of Carnavon, Paddington and Moree’s contribution to Apollo 11 and other missions such as ESA’s Giotto probe to Halleys Comet. It was a fantastic opportunity to remind the US that they did not do this all by themselves. Well they pretty much did, but I certainly reminded them that Australia was important in the actual mission as the earth turned!

Above: Even my namesake Vance Brand, command pilot of the Apollo Soyuz mission was on hand and we got along famously just because I had the same name as his brother! That is us below:

The talk covered the Paddington site, manned by NASA staff:

Above: In the lead up to talking about NASA and OTC’s Carnarvon site I mentioned this story that I published here a few months ago – in fact it is a cut and past from the exOTC website:

 

Above: I went on to talk about the current high altitude experiments and the future of Do-It-Yourself Space – experiments that I am doing with my 10 year old son Jason who has his amateur radio license

 

I am looking forward to next year’s Spacefest where I expect to be in late May 2013. Here is a video of a few parts of my talk. The photographer accidentally interprets the bit about  the Giotto mission as tracking rogue asteroids, but he only filmed fragments and put some words together. Thanks to my good friend John Sullivan for the video.

High Altitude Balloon Experiments

Here is a picture taken at 26km from a recent weather balloon flight from Rankin Springs in central NSW:

You can click and click again to enlarge the image. Use the “Back” button to return here.

Below is a little image to show how amazing the results are even at 26 km. my photos are unaltered and taken from the above image:

The Sydney Morning Herald did a story on one of the flights. Here is the video:

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/sydneys-very-own-space-agency-brand-and-son-20120116-1q26j.html

After Spacefest I traveled to Jamesburg and I have already written about that in an earlier post.

 

 

Jamesburg For Sale (Archives)

Jamesburg Earth Station For Sale

Robert Brand and Jamesburg Earth Station.

It was about when I was 17 years old that I (Robert Brand) first heard of Jamesburg Earth Station. I was a second year trainee at the Dept of Civil Aviation Regional Training School at Waverton and assigned to the International Maintenance Centre (IMC) at Paddington for field training. I was asked to wiring up some Apollo 11 jumpering for Wayne Ozarko and I learned of this site as the received dish for the transmissions from Moree for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

I ended up doing most of the TV broadcasts each morning when I was on duty and was talking with Jamesburg staff each and every day. The location and history of the site was of little interest in those days and the Internet was not invented for the public so data, photos and everything else we take for granted was just not there to be able to find anything out at all. That has changed and I now know Jamesburg inside out.

The site was basically abandoned by ATT in 2002 and sold as a farm with a unique set of buildings. It has sort of been a holiday home in a valley mainly producing wine and way of the beaten track.

So what is different? “Jamesburg for sale” is now on a sign at the front gate.  Today, my small company, PlusComms, is considering buying the Earth Station!

Whether this eventuates or not is still in the hands of the owner. He may have other offers or waiting for a better offer. Although I would like to buy a dish in the US, this one is no where near perfect for the job I would like it to do and to that end I am actually only after the 2,000 square metre building that is part of the site. Simply it will make a great boutique Data Centre.

Much of the old building will need clearing of all the old office partitions and such, but the data centre is a valuable commodity. It is worth far more than the very badly damaged dish. The feed window was broken at some stage and the whole assembly was filled with water for many years. When the dish was moved from stow a few years ago, it was evidently like waterfall.

If any exOTC people are interested in this project and feel that they can contribute, please contact me ASAP on 02 9559 6879 or robert.brand@pluscomms.com

I will post more on Jamesburg in the next few weeks after I return from a site inspection. In the meantime here are a few historic videos:

Above: Jamesburg Earth Station Part 1 of 3 (no audio – slideshow only)

Above: Jamesburg Earth Station Part 2 of 3 (no audio – slideshow only)

Above: Jamesburg Earth Station Part 3 of 3 (no audio – slideshow only)

World Moon Bounce – Part 2 (Archives)

Robert Brand - Parkes

World Moon Bounce – 2009

Posted on by

The Wireless Institute of Australia Magazine Article WMBD

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD). Much of it was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) A key objective was to involve and interest school children in science and amateur radio by allowing children to hear voices from the moon. The event was supplemented by amateur Earth Moon Earth (EME) stations all around the world and particularly those with SSB capability on 23 cm.

Within Australia the University of Tasmania agreed to take part using their 26 metre dish which was originally used by NASA in the Orroral Valley near Canberra between 1964-1985 after which it was gifted to the University and transported to Mt Pleasant, near Richmond in southern Tasmania. Our involvement was to provide amateur EME equipment, help set up and test the system and operate the station on the day. As it eventuated the availability of large dishes provided the opportunity to explore QRP EME at as low a level as possible and we are pleased to report completion of a JT65 EME contact between the University of Tasmania’s 26 metre dish and a Dutch 25 metre dish, PI9CAM, with the Tasmanian end running only three milliwatts.

Mount Pleasant Radio Telescope UTAS

Setting up the University of Tasmania dish

While Dr Jim Lovell of the University of Tasmania willingly offered their dish and the support of the site technician Eric Baynes (VK7BB) it was first necessary to consider what was practical. At our first meeting it became clear that transmitting any sort of high power as required for SSB would be out of the question as the dish is fitted with five extremely sensitive liquid helium cooled receivers working from 4 to 22 GHz. There is no protection for RF and we could not risk damage to these receivers which are involved in ongoing international research programs. Accordingly, the Echoes of Apollo team where advised that we would contribute to the event but as a receive station only.

40 Year Anniversary Apollo 11The feeds and receivers for the 26 metre dish are mounted in a small feed cabin (a cube approximately two metres per side) behind a Teflon window approximately one metre in diameter. Within the cabin there is a remotely controlled three axis focus frame that allows the feeds and receivers to be moved into the correct focal position depending on which feed is in use. There is space for a two GHz non-cooled feed and receiver which fortunately was not required around the time of the Echoes of Apollo event and the University agreed that this could be removed and replaced with a 23 cm antenna. Because of space limitations it was decided to use a small three turn helical. There is over 100 metres of LDF-4-50 coax between the dish and the control building where we could operate and for this reason we decided to down-convert at the feed and receive on 144 MHz. Eric constructed a down-converter and the VK7MO EME station provided pre-amplifiers, 144 MHz receiver, GPS frequency reference, computer running WSJT and bandpass filters at 1296 MHz and 144 MHz to limit interference from microwave systems at the nearby Hobart airport.

A few weeks prior to the event tests were conducted with Dave VK2JDS, with JT65c signal levels much worse than expected at -9 dB and no prospect of copying SSB. A sun noise test gave around 18 dB compared to 27 to 28 dB determined with the VK3UM EME calculator. The time for testing was limited as this is an operational radio astronomy research facility but the system was gradually refined with additional pre-amps and filters and through adjusting levels at all stages – as well as resolving the occasional “Murphy” problem. Finally we decided that the helical feed must be the remaining limitation and did some estimates to see if a Septum feed and choke ring could be physically mounted. Initially it fouled other equipment but after a redesign of the mount is was successfully installed. In the end we achieved a sun noise of 25 dB which was within a few dB of what could be expected. Every time the system needed adjustment Eric had to don a safety harness and go up in a cherry picker .

The story above is part of the article in the Amateur Radio magazine, a publication of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

World Moon Bounce – Part 1 (Archives)

World Moon Bounce 2009 & 2010 – Part 1

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Robert BrandJust before the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2009, I got contacted by a gentleman wanting to do a commemorative HAM radio event between the Jamesburg Earth Station and the Parkes Radio telescope. His name was Pat Barthelow. Moon Bounce is basically bouncing signals off the moon and back to earth and using big dishes to do the work. In the week before the Apollo 11 40th Anniversary (July 2009) dishes from all over the world took part in World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD) and it was a great success. Notably Jamesburg and Parkes never took part!

We had support locally from the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and financial support from the OTVA to make this happen. Kids from all over the world took part in WMBD. We broke records with a 3mW transmission from the old NASA Orroral Valley dish (now in Tasmania with UTAS) and a dish in the Netherlands – both 30m dishes. The data was successfully decoded and a new record set. The gain in these dishes is massive – about 60dB each for the technical. It is great to think that the gains of dirt on the surface of the moon where shaking ever so slightly and reflecting back the voices of children for a global hookup.

The story of World Moon Bounce Day and the 2010 World Moon Bounce event is below and taken from the Echoes of Apollo Website. The 2010 event turned more into a week long event as my partner in crime in the US – Pat Barthelow – managed to secure the Aricebo Dish for a week or so! This was written before the 2010 event:

World Moon Bounce Events:

World Moon Bounce Day Logo 2010

EOA April 17th 2010

This major event will add a new word to most people’s vocabulary – Moon Bounce. Moon Bounce has been happening for almost as long as the oldest of us can remember. From the early days when it was thought to be a  means of communications that the military could exploit right through to today’s more peaceful use by amateur radio hobbyists. So what is moon bounce? Also known technically as Earth-Moon-Earth transmissions (EME), it is simply bouncing radio waves off the moon’s surface and back to earth. Every day hundreds of people enjoy doing just that and they do it as everyday people using mainly homemade dishes and antennas and  a mix of “do it yourself” systems, electronics and “off the shelf” equipment.

So why hold World Moon Bounce Day? At Echoes of Apollo we are both interested in space (especially the moon) and amateur radio. We created an event to highlight both of these amazing areas of interest. We are also looking to the commercial world to take part soon and make this an event for the whole world to enjoy

On Saturday, April 17th, many of the world’s large parabolic antennas (sometimes called dishes) along with hundreds of amateur radio operators and their gear will stop their normal work and swing around to track the moon when it rises. Volunteers will then use the EME or Moon Bounce transmissions to link up with other dishes and antennas worldwide via the moon. Signals are literally being bounced off the moon’s surface and back to other stations on earth where they are received some 2.5 seconds later. Yes, at an atomic level we are actually shaking each atom on the moon’s surface every so slightly and they then radiate the signal back into space and to earth where we again use our high gain antennas and dishes to receive them

moon_bounce

The sites will be run by volunteers from the amateur radio community and they will be helping local youth talk to other youth from around the world in a “Jamboree of the Air” style event. This type of activity has happened before but never on this scale. One  fantastic demonstration was a small Moon Bounce occurred in 2007  to celebrate the UK’s Jodrell Bank Telescope’s 50th anniversary generated press and TV coverage. Children read and listened to their poetry being bounced of the moon. Jodrell Bank held another event in 2009, but it was a small event with a local transmitter.

The first World Moon Bounce Day held in June 2009 was huge by comparison with much high voice quality in comparison given the sizes of the big dishes at both ends that were involved. The bigger they are, the more effective power they will radiate and also the more power they gather and concentrate for reception.

Web video of World Moon Bounce Day on June 27th will be available on this website with feeds from multiple sites, so you can see all the action taking place. We have invited some of the world’s biggest dishes an a wealth of important people. We already have several large antennas taking part and we will provide a list shortly.

Why April 17th 2010?

At Echoes of Apollo we celebrate the amazing achievements of the Apollo astronauts and their vast numbers of support staff, whether part of the rocket design team, mission control or NASA‘s global communications network. We simply have the most incredible team ever assembled with a single goal that was beyond anyones expertise at the time of its announcement 10 years earlier. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 with out first annual World Moon Bounce Day and this year we will be honoring Apollo 13′s return to earth 40 years earlier. Echoes of Apollo still believe that this mission was one of the most amazing and riveting stories of the space age. It is the only Hollywood movie made of any of he Apollo missions.

Arecibo Puerto Rico

This year, April 16,17,18, Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce, a fun, educational, science outreach activity, will conduct 2 way Voice communications by bouncing radio signals off the Moon.  One day of the event, Saturday, the 17th, has been assigned the Moniker, “World Moon Bounce Day”.  Commonly known among the specialist amateur radio operators (hams) that do this,  as EME, for Earth-Moon- Earth,  this time, the Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce event is quite special, and opens a big door of opportunity for Science outreach.The Arecibo Observatory amateur radio club has built an amateur radio EME station at the Arecibo 1000 ft dish.  Angel Vazquez, club president, is working with his team of radio amateurs and have produced a 500 watt station that will operate in the 70cm band, on 432.045 mhz.  The 500 watts at the feed of 58 dbi gain dish will produce a very loud signal that will be bounced from the moon, and can be heard, using very modest antennas.

On March 19, and 22, Arecibo conducted a test of their station on the air, establishing 2 way Moon Bounce contact with many ham radio operators all over the world.  The test, established that the very strong return signals from the moon, can be picked up, using radio communications receivers capable receiving 432.045 MHz  SSB and/or CW signals, and equipped with small, yagi antennas.

As a science/Education  outreach activity,  EOA  co founder, Pat Barthelow, has arranged for amateur radio mentors, and teachers, to supervise the construction of very simple, cheap yagi antennas that can be used to hear the moon bounced signals, returned to earth.  The yagi antennas are easy and cheap to build, according to published designs, and made from wooden  1 x 2 sticks, about 3-6 feet long, and welding rod,copper or aluminum wire.

 

Pat Barthelow: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1535563951&ref=ts

Robert Brand: http://www.facebook.com/Echoes.Of.Apollo?ref=profile

So far we have moon bounce-capable stations in the US, Europe,  and,  of course Arecibo in Puerto Rico. (Look up on Google Earth, latitude 18.33 degrees north, and Longitude 66.75 degrees West

Some other stations in Europe planning on participating,  are:

Dwingeloo dish run by the CAMRAS group in Holland, http://www.camras.nl

HB9MOON 10 meter Dish, in Chur Switzerland,  run by Christoph, HB9HAL:

http://www.radiosky.ch/home.php?nav=amateurfunk&page=eoa

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dishes at their Haystack facility. MIT based  Radio Amateurs are anticipated to be active with MIT station setup and operating.

The world wide event,  will have different stations around the world communicating whenever the moon is visible between them, and in the case of Arecibo, there will be two hour windows of operations, each of the three scheduled days. Arecibo only has limited time viewing the moon due the limited “steering” of about 20 degrees

On this weekend, this translates to operating times from Arecibo of:

Apr 16 1645 – 1930 UTC

Apr 17 1740 – 2020 UTC

Apr 18 1840 – 2125 UTC

FFI:   Pat Barthelow AA6EG (Founder of Echoes of Apollo)

Echoes of Apollo

apolloeme@live.com

Here is a video of the event from UTAS in 2009:

The large antenna, pictured below, at Mt Pleasant in Tasmania, Australia (University of Tasmania) is typical of the antennas that will be involved in Moon Bounce and it took part inthe 2009  World Moon Bounce Day. Photo by Jim Lovell of UTAS.

mount_pleasant_observatory

Another big dish was the SRI – Stanford 150ft Dish (45m). The reports from the site were amazing and the excitement high. Pat Barthelow reports via phone during the final 5 hours of the 2009 event as they were working Europe and Australia was coming back into view. You can hear Pat’s report below.

http://www.echoesofapollo.com/audio/World_Moon_Bounce_Day_20090627.mp3

Christop Joos from Switzerland reports on our 2009 Event

http://www.radiosky.ch/images/spaceparty/EoA_Kids_hb9moon.jpgClick the link below to hear Swiss greetings via the moon

Greetings from Switzerland via the moon

Kids talking via the moon for World Moon Bounce Day.

“First of all many Thanks to all who helped us talking to our non Radio Amateurs, Visitors and Children of course. Special Thanks to Dough VK3UM how had to answer many questions about his “Crocodile” in his shack :-)

More than 300 Visitors, many Families, Swiss Television, News Journalists, joined our outstanding Party.

We also had ON4BCB, Walter on board and many Swiss Radio Amateurs and youngest YL too. 45 Children took this chance to send a short Message to the Moon. And a few did a great job and learned very quickly how we communicate. Who knows maybe one of them will become Hamsone day  too… Swiss Television will report from EoA HB9MOON on Monday evening during Prime-time! It was an unforgettable event for us!

Christoph, HB9HAL / HB9MOON

The following is Swiss TV coverage of the Echoes of apollo event on World Moon Bounce Day 2009:

Our June 2009 event featured Apollo astronaut Bill Anders who reportedly had a great time talking to the world via the moon. We are hoping to have an even bigger lineup of guests and they will be featured in interviews with the Echoes team after the event. You will be able to listen to the broadcast via the moon on the Internet. We have some large dishes taking part and that announcement will be coming soon so please stand by for more information. Echoes of Apollo salutes all the amateur radio operators that make this event possible.

Is There any Science Being Done?

Yes, plenty. Even setting this gear up is a major challenge to get it right. Not only do many of the scientist that take part find the effort rewarding, they all find that they learn a lot from working with amateur radio operators. The staff at the Mt Pleasant dish (above) also broke world records during our 2009 event sending data to the moon and having received as viable data in the Netherlands and their transmitter was only 3 milliwatts – about 1/1000th the power of a bright incandescent flashlight. The gain and accuracy of big dishes can achieve some amazing results.

What Frequencies will be used?

Any frequency that operators can legally utilise. Most amateur radio operators will be using frequencies of about 1.3GHz which is almost half that used in microwave ovens and Wireless computer networks. This frequency is the best for bouncing signals off the Moon’s surface. Some possible commercial operator may use frequencies as high as 12GHz.

———————————————————————————-

World Moon Bounce Day 2009

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day. Much of the article was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) A key objective was to involve and interest school children in science and amateur radio by allowing children to hear voices from the moon. The event was supplemented by amateur Earth Moon Earth (EME) stations all around the world and particularly those with SSB capability on 23 cm.

Within Australia the University of Tasmania agreed to take part using their 26 metre dish which was originally used by NASA in the Orroral Valley near Canberra between 1964-1985 after which it was gifted to the University and transported to Mt Pleasant, near Richmond in southern Tasmania. Our involvement was to provide amateur EME equipment, help set up and test the system and operate the station on the day. As it eventuated the availability of large dishes provided the opportunity to explore QRP EME at as low a level as possible and we are pleased to report completion of a JT65 EME contact between the University of Tasmania’s 26 metre dish and a Dutch 25 metre dish, PI9CAM, with the Tasmanian end running only three milliwatts.

Setting up the University of Tasmania dish

While Dr Jim Lovell of the University of Tasmania willingly offered their dish and the support of the site technician Eric Baynes (VK7BB) it was first necessary to consider what was practical. At our first meeting it became clear that transmitting any sort of high power as required for SSB would be out of the question as the dish is fitted with five extremely sensitive liquid helium cooled receivers working from 4 to 22 GHz. There is no protection for RF and we could not risk damage to these receivers which are involved in ongoing international research programs. Accordingly, the Echoes of Apollo team where advised that we would contribute to the event but as a receive station only.

The feeds and receivers for the 26 metre dish are mounted in a small feed cabin (a cube approximately two metres per side) behind a Teflon window approximately one metre in diameter. Within the cabin there is a remotely controlled three axis focus frame that allows the feeds and receivers to be moved into the correct focal position depending on which feed is in use. There is space for a two GHz non-cooled feed and receiver which fortunately was not required around the time of the Echoes of Apollo event and the University agreed that this could be removed and replaced with a 23 cm antenna. Because of space limitations it was decided to use a small three turn helical. There is over 100 metres of LDF-4-50 coax between the dish and the control building where we could operate and for this reason we decided to down-convert at the feed and receive on 144 MHz. Eric constructed a down-converter and the VK7MO EME station provided pre-amplifiers, 144 MHz receiver, GPS frequency reference, computer running WSJT and bandpass filters at 1296 MHz and 144 MHz to limit interference from microwave systems at the nearby Hobart airport.

A few weeks prior to the event tests were conducted with Dave VK2JDS, with JT65c signal levels much worse than expected at -9 dB and no prospect of copying SSB. A sun noise test gave around 18 dB compared to 27 to 28 dB determined with the VK3UM EME calculator. The time for testing was limited as this is an operational radio astronomy research facility but the system was gradually refined with additional pre-amps and filters and through adjusting levels at all stages – as well as resolving the occasional “Murphy” problem. Finally we decided that the helical feed must be the remaining limitation and did some estimates to see if a Septum feed and choke ring could be physically mounted. Initially it fouled other equipment but after a redesign of the mount is was successfully installed. In the end we achieved a sun noise of 25 dB which was within a few dB of what could be expected. Every time the system needed adjustment Eric had to don a safety harness and go up in a cherry picker .

The story above is part of the article in the Amateur Radio magazine, a publication of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

Much of the credit for the 2009 World Moon Bounce Day success can be directly attributed to the efforts of the OTVA and other exOTC staff. This has been a fantastic experience and we are looking to grow the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day to even great success. Yes, a world first for OTC staff involvement and a world record! Plenty of Australian amateur radio people got involved and were active bouncing their signals off the moon. I am Now organising the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day for early April. If you wish to help, feel free to raise your hand.

Jamesburg in a Movie (Archived)

Battleship (2012) uses Jamesburg Earth Station (graphically).

*** Retrieved from Archives ***Posted on by

My company is currently looking to buy Jamesburg Earth Station with a view of using it as part of a deep space network. Sure Jamesburg Earth Station is not the only dish with this design, there are two others. One still in use in South America and another somewhere in the US – possibly Alaska from memory. The identical AT&T sister dish on the east coast was demolished many years ago. Jamesburg, however is the most well photographed and documented of the remaining dishes and thus attracts attention.

Jamesburg in a Movie

I was watching a movie set in current times in Hawaii (Battleship) on the weekend and was surprised to see this very early dish design from 50 years ago being used to contact aliens from a distant star system. It was hard to concentrate on the movie each time the dish came into view on the screen. In fact there were three of these dishes on the island mountain top and all equipped with a very modern system to beam signals somehow to a relay satellite. Yes, the movie was technically unbelievable anyway, but this made it worse. It was also heart wrenching to see the three dishes explode at the end of the movie. Of course the dishes were graphically reproduced as were the explosions.

So how close was the reproduction. Well, extremely close. They added a box to the top of the subreflector quadropod and the base was a bit slimmer, but that was it. The staining was also identical, but emphasised in the movie. I doubt that we will ever see Ceduna, Moree or Carnarvon dishes in this way, but if one relic from the past can manage a resurrection, then who knows?

While I was visiting the Jamesburg site, a film crew was actually filming the dish for an iPad interactive game to be called “200 seconds” so we can expect to see it emerge again from the archives!

Here is a comparison and some shots from the movie:

Note that the structure on the right of the movie dish is on the original also, but obscured due to the angles

Occasionally, s

A Visit to Honeysuckle Creek

hsk_1971_tnMy Return to Honeysuckle Creek

It had been 42 years since I visited Honeysuckle Creek. I was still a teenager at the time – 19 years old. I had just been working on comms for Apollo missions and had completed a lot of work wiring up comms for Apollo 11 gear at OTC Paddington. I had been on a pilgrimage to know ground zero zero for the reception of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon – Honeysuckle Creek. Many may have been mislead by the movie “The Dish” that indicated that Parkes had been the site that brought us those first steps. It was Honeysuckle Creek. Parkes did bring us the majority of the moonwalk, just not Armstrong’s first steps. The dish was about 30m and now resides at the NASA Deep Space Centre in Tidbinbilla near Canberra.

I had come to Canberra with my son Jason who had just turned 11. It was a massive space weekend. We came down for the 40th anniversary of NASA’s 70m dish at Tidbinbilla. We visited Mt Stromlo, Had dinner with the Honeysuckle Creek staff and wives, we were live on Canberra’s Fuzzy Logic science show with Robert Brand, Jennie and Len Limpus at Honeysuckle Creek in 1971Rod Taylor (2XX) for a whole hour and then we went to visit the Honeysuckle Creek site. Only foundations and storyboards are left at the site, but we had our own tour guides and what guides they were! Some of the original staff that brought those moon pictures back to earth. This picture (above) is of a young Colin Mackellar who has created a fabulous history of the Honeysuckle Creek site and even the role that my government department (I worked for OTC(A)) played in the the Apollo missions.

I too have a photo from my visit in 1971. I went there with some friends and my new bright red Toyota Corolla. Honeysuckle Creek was out on Apollo Road in the mountains south west of Canberra and south of Tharwa.

Our trip to the site was very pleasant and easy to drive since the entire road was sealed when the NASA site was established in the 60s. It is a campground now and an absolutely beautiful place to visit. The open areas are still grass. John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) gave us a really great tour of the site, explaining the operations and what the staff had to do. Jason loved rubbing shoulders with those history makers and enjoyed the drive, tour and the entire weekend.

John Saxon and Hamish Lindsay ex Honeysuckle Creek staff

John Saxon and Hamish Lindsay – ex Honeysuckle Creek staff

To visit the Honeysuckle Creek site website: CLICK HERE

Below are some photos from our visit.


“This was the site of the dish that brought the world Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon..”

From Honeysuckle Creek ACT. Moon Central. Posted by Robert Brand on 4/15/2013 (12 items)

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Australia’s Space Policy – Interview

 Space Show Southern FMRobert Brand Interviewed on Australia’s Space Policy

This interview was with a group to discuss Australia’s upcoming Space Policy. Australia’s Space Show originates in Melbourne. It is broadcast on Wednesdays between 7pm and 8pm on 88.3 Southern FM

INTERVIEW: by Andrew Rennie – February 6th 2013.

Space activities in Australia. Discussion on the soon-to-be released Australian National Space Policy. Featuring:

David Reneke
Astronomy lecturer and teacher
NSWRobert Brand
Director of Spacecraft Communications
Team Stellar
Sydney, Vic

Lachlan Thompson
Associate Professor
Aerospace Design
RMIT University
Melbourne, Vic

Len Halprin
Space Association
East Brighton, Vic

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Queensland Spaceport on Brisbane Radio

Spenser_Howson on ABC RadioRobert on Radio 2 re: Queensland Spaceport

The last couple of days have been spent talking to people about the possibility of a Queensland Spaceport. This has come from some someone outside my company and it is about space recreational activities. The media seems hopeful to discuss the possibility of a Queensland Spaceport. Previously Queensland was discussed as a possible launch site for more traditional rockets. I was contacted by Spencer Howson of Australia’s ABC radio network to talk about this. I try to keep my distance from the recreational side of space and concentrate on the benefits of having a spaceport in this country. Spencer broadcasts the breakfast show on Brisbane local Radio.

There is plenty of discussion about Team Stellar and what Australia is doing to land a private mission on the Moon.

P.S. I forgot to mention Team Stellar’s name! Please mentally insert into the broadcast.

The audio file (edited)  is here: Click here to play (PC users can “Right Click” to save)

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