n MNASSA : Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa - Johannesburg Moonwatch recalled : satellite tracking




South Africa played a very important role at the dawn of the space-age because of its strategic position on the globe, being the first land mass over which satellites launched from the US, would pass. It is thus logical that America invested in tracking stations here. One such method was called Moonwatch where an "optical fence" was set up, detecting the satellite as it passed through it. However, this required a lot of manpower, which was supplied by keen volunteers who wanted to be part of the space age. Prof Peter Spargo, then a WITS student, was the youngest member of the Johannesburg Moonwatch and shares his memories of this experience here.


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