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In mid-Jan I sent out the first progress report:
I made one resolution which I intend to keep - that is, to get cracking on the preparations for the event in July and to keep people informed of progress.
Despite the lack of messages, progress has been made - but of course lots more has to be done. The rudimentary pages at http://jsaxon.org/space/hsk/Reunions/40th2009 are no longer true - it's not just a committee of one any more. I have been joined by Geoff Seymour, Mike Linney and Phil Maier - only slight coercion was required. But other offers of help have also been received!
Colin Mackellar (www.honeysucklecreek.net ) has volunteered to contact astronauts and ex-Houston staff re messages and possible attendance. Colin will also be producing a new and improved DVD for the event.
A gentleman call Mick Stanic in Melbourne (who is very keen on the HSK site) has volunteered to make a DVD of the event and has contacts with a graphics design company who will be making logos, and other designs for memorabilia.
Tony Gerada has not had much response re the plaque for the HSK site. So it looks as though the names will be limited to those who were working there during the Apollo-11 mission (we have the address list for Nov 1969).
Glen Nagle at Tidbinbilla is working on some great ideas for our visit there on Mon 20th.
John Sarkissian at Parkes is working with CSIRO and the IYA (international Year of Astronomy) people on some exciting possibilities.
We have been promised some "Where are they now" type publicity by the Science Festival and IGY people. I would also like to emphasise that ex-tracking station staff and their significant others are all invited. The publicity may kick off in Feb or March.
Books are being completed and there is a growing probably attendance list from here and overseas.
This week we have fixed the venue for our 'signature' event - the lunch on 21st July. We have settled on the Woden Southern Cross club for a number of reasons.
1. Car parking there is great - if their 3 floors of parking are full then there is loads of parking opposite the club which is free for the first 2 Hrs and reasonable thereafter.
2. The club has built new functions rooms which are now virtually complete and due to be officially opened in March. We have booked the large room which has about the best facilities I have seen in Canberra. Better than the Hyatt which is MUCH more expensive.
3. The CEO of the club has agreed to support us to the tune of several thousand dollars with no strings attached!
4. Despite the above it will not be really cheap by my standards. We are still collecting information about costs. But I hope to have booking forms and costs on line by the end of next month
Lots more I could say but we'll leave it at that for the moment - I'll let you know when the reunion Web pages are updated. All the best - JohnS
Then in early March
A fair bit has happened since the first progress report in Mid-Jan.
1. We have over 200 acceptances and 'expressions of interest' so far, and I know of many people who will definitely come along but who have not 'put it in writing' yet. But when the publicity machine cranks up.....
Re Publicity: We have had one small bit in the Canberra Times so far, and I will be giving a talk in the National Convention centre on 31st May as part of the Australian Science Festival. The ABC has made an approach for info on the Anniversary so this could help. Hopefully more publicity will add some more attendees.
2. Some 'old hands' may wonder why we are so keen to get more people to the main event/s. The answer of course is cost. Despite generous contributions from the Southern Cross Club, CSIRO and Raytheon, the 21st July lunch cost could have been up to $70 per ticket. Hopefully we will keep it below that.
Stop Press: Geoff & I did some calculations today and it's beginning to look like the final price for the 21st lunch event will be closer to $50 (and less of course for children under 12) - but we will not know for sure (and post sign-up forms etc.) until some time in April
3. I visited TID, and Mirium Baltuck the CSIRO Director and Alan Graham the Raytheon Company Manager agreed to host (up to 200 of us) to lunch at CDSCC on the 20th. We may have to limit the 20th to Apollo people and their immediate families. I am also hoping that they will help us pay for a couple of coaches on that day.
4. I did mention in another message that the threat of Caravans on the HSK site is hopefully averted. During that visit I looked for good places for the Plaque and a time capsule burial. I think there are lots of possibilities.
5. On the subject of Plaques - Due to the efforts of Tony Gerada and Hamish Lindsay I'm happy to say the wording has been resolved and can be found on my Web site at http://jsaxon.org/space/hsk/Reunions/40th2009/plaque.htm I have asked Glen Nagle at CDSCC if he would consider a similar plaque there to commemorate the staff there who played such a major role during Apollo.
Parkes erected a plaque at their site during their 35th celebrations.
6. Phil Maier and Mike Linney have been doing a great job coming up with ideas for Memorabilia. And I am meeting with Mick Stanick from Melbourne this weekend to see what his friends from the Graphics Design company have come up with. Much more on this subject later!
7. We have received some enquiries about accommodation around Canberra during the celebrations. I have checked around and the only event I can see (at the moment) is Sydney Swans versus St.Kilda or some such, playing a round of some obscure brand of Football the following weekend. So as Canberra has absolutely loads of accommodation - it should not be a problem at all. But I am doing the rounds of a few likely places to try to organise some group booking rates. More on this later as well.
Then in Late April
Sorry - this is long overdue - lot's happening.
1. Firstly - due to the generosity of the CSIRO Director of CDSCC and the staff at Tidbinbilla - not only will they provide us with a light lunch but also they will pay for two 52 seat coaches for the day on the 20th. The coaches will pickup in a reasonably central location and take us to Tidbinbilla for the ceremonies there and then up to the Honeysuckle site before returning to Canberra. As there will only be 102 seats available - please consider using your own car if you can manage that.
2. I'm very sorry if this will adversely affect some people's plans - but as only a relatively small number of people expressed an interest in visiting Parkes on Wed 22nd July, we have decided to replace the trip with a less strenuous day. We will be showing two Apollo related movies - never before shown in Australia and before their official release down under. They are "The Wonder of it All" see http://www.thespacereview.com/article/996/1 and "Live from the Moon" see http://www.spacecraftfilms.com/ (you should see some familiar Australian faces in that one). Again due to the generosity of the producers of both movies and the Director and Staff of Questacon - see http://www.questacon.edu.au/ this will be FREE and exclusive for attendees of our celebrations.
As I have mentioned before - Parkes
are holding their own celebrations on Sat 18th and Sun 19th July - See
If you are keen to visit Parkes and attend the celebrations (Suggest Sat18th) let me know either via Email or in the comments box of the sign-up form (see below). I will see if it's possible to organise a small coach or mini-bus. This will be a 'user pays' trip as I have been unable to line up any sponsorship/support so far.
3. Hopefully this weekend I will
start providing much more information by adding more pages to the Web site. I
a) 4 or 5 pages - one for each day's events.
b) A page for accommodation suggestions and Maps.
c) A page covering other events celebrating the 40th Anniversary around Canberra and further afield.
d) A page of Memorabilia items that are being organised for our celebrations.
e) The all important Forms for you to sign-up for the events (and to start sending us money :-).
4. On the subject of the sign-up forms - they are almost ready! I just have to tidy them up a bit and then we can start moving into high gear. Might even get them out this weekend.
5. Lastly - we have quite a number of people on our contact list who do not have Email addresses. Most have no street address either so they are unfortunately a 'lost cause'. But take a look at the HSK contact list at http://www.jsaxon.org/space/hsk/contact/contact.htm if you get a chance and see if you can fill in any details....
You will need the User name 'jsaxon_hsk' and Password 'people' (no quotes and sorry about the jsaxon_ bit, it seems to be a default in my domain hosting service). As usual - please ask friends and family to come along (particularly on the 21st :-).
I'll keep you advised on the web site progress.
Then in late May
The pace is hotting up - less than 2 month to go.
Another page has been added to the web pages for the celebrations. That’s a page for Memorabilia items - which we hope will get us out of the Red! We are selling Fleecy outer vests and polo shirts with embroidered badges, Bottles of Wine with one of a kind labels, engraved Wine glasses and glass photo frame coasters (with photos). Other items such as DVDs will be added later. We can't afford to buy in the clothing in the huge range of colours and sizes without taking orders. The risk is too great that we will be left with stock. So if you want to order clothing to be picked up (on the 19th & 21st July) at the celebrations - then pre-order SOON. Check out all the items at http://jsaxon.org/space/hsk/Reunions/40th2009/memorabilia.htm or follow the link from the main page.
A few other things to report (we need to keep a few things as surprises :-). Glen Nagle at CDSCC is busy with preparations for the event on the 20th July. I hope he will post an update to this list. During our visit to the HSK site - we hope to unveil the plaque to the workers. It turns out this may be a federal Government item rather than ACT, and those wheels can grind rather slowly... I visited CDSCC recently and saw the Time Capsule that we plan to bury at HSK. It's MASSIVE! A 30cm Dia by 1.5M long stainless Steel tube weighing around 100KG! Actually it's a Hydraulic cylinder that used to be on the 70M antenna at CDSCC. We are hoping that the Namadgi National park rangers will kindly help us with transportation and hole digging etc. And a reminder - Glen is still collecting material for the capsule - so if you would like to provide something from your collection - it will be most welcome.
The 21st lunch is getting to be bigger than Ben Hur! There will be non-stop entertainment (much of it background so there will be plenty of talk time as well). We expect a heavy media interest but mostly it is rather vague this far out. The U.S. Embassy is kindly helping us with real money and will have a small (but nice :-) present for all who attend. The Chargé d'Affaires will be attending and may well present some interesting items. There will be door prizes and at least one raffle as well as well as memorabilia sales. So don't miss the 21st!
The 22nd movies are 'in the bag' as we say in the business. These will definitely be the first time they are shown in Australia, and if you want to see them again - you will have to pay money! Due to the generosity of the Director of Questacon (the science centre here in Canberra), the theatre will be provided to you and your guests free!
Now before I finish.
We were very grateful for those who completed our initial 'survey' last year, and also to those who completed the 'Expressions of interest' earlier this year. They gave us some good insight into what sort of events you wanted and a feel for the numbers as well. BUT - it doesn't matter if you completed either or both - you will still have to formally SIGN-UP for July by using the web page. If you don't sign-up we can't let you into the events without a name badge, which you can pickup on the 19th, or at the entrance to the events on the other days. Many of the 'usual suspects' have not signed up yet and we really want you to do so as soon as possible. It will help a lot. And once you have signed up (if you have said you would like to come on the 21st) we would like some money from you!
My next small project is to do a password protected Web page showing the list of signed-up attendees. This may help you to decide if you see someone is coming from USA, CA, UK, NZ or one of the Australian States and you would like to catch up with them again.
Well that's all from me this time. A lot more to come later!
Cheers - JohnS
P.S. For those who are new to this mailing list (and are a glutton for punishment). Please checkout the links at the top of the page below - including one which shows the previous progress reports.
P.P.S. If you are in Canberra and interested - I am doing a talk called "Apollo and the ACT - Why did it happen here?" as part of the Australian Science Festival. It's in the Southerland Theatre at the National convention centre next Saturday 30th May at 2:30pm.
John Saxon 25 Apr 2009