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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2424

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply a question relating to an announcement made yesterday in another place by the Minister for Supply that the Island Lagoon tracking station near Woomera in South Australia would be closed if planned alterations to the American space programme were carried out. What effect would this have on the activities at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury? Will consideration be given to alternative operation of the facilities at Woomera or Salis- bury to take up any slack that may arise?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I do not know whether I have all the information which the honourable senator seeks, but before coming into the chamber J did make it my business to get some information on this matter. I understand that at present there are no approved programmes between the end of America's Skylab project due to be completed by the end of next year and the first orbit of the space shuttle project which will not be before 1978. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has advised that it has under consideration a number of changes brought about by its changed activity in space. Included in these changes is a reduction in the number of tracking stations from 23 or 25 to about 15. The Honeysuckle Creek tracking station will be converted to a deep space station, and this will lead eventually to the closing down of the Island Lagoon tracking station which is a short distance from Woomera. NASA's plans with regard to Carnarvon are tentative, but it is expected that there will be a reduction of activity there after 1974.

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