• Short Summary

    ASCENSION ISLAND - 38 SQUARE MILES OF VOLCANIC ROCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC - IS PLAYING A VITAL PART IN THE CURRENT U.

  • Description

    ASCENSION ISLAND - 38 SQUARE MILES OF VOLCANIC ROCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC - IS PLAYING A VITAL PART IN THE CURRENT U.S. GEMINI SPACE PROGRAMME, AND IS DESTINED TO PALY AN EVEN GREATER ROLE IN THE DRIVE TO PUT A MAN ON THE MOON. AT THE MOMENT THE U.S. TRACKING STATION IS WORKING ROUND THE CLOCK ON THE GEMINI SEVEN FLIGHT, AND IF GEMINI SIX GOES UP ON WEDNESDAY, ITS PROGRESS WILL ALSO BE MONITORED ON EVERY ORBIT.

    THE BARREN RAIN-PARCHED ISLAND, WITH 35 EXTINCT VOLCANOES, LOOKS LIKE A SCIENCE FICTION VIEW OF THE MOON'S SURFACE ITSELF. THE TINY ISLAND-DOT WHICH FOR SO MANY CENTURIES HAS BEEN LITERALLY IN THE 'MIDDLE OF NOWHERE', NOW IN THE SPACE AGE IS DEFINITELY 'SOMEWHERE'. ITS IMPORTANCE AS A SATELLITE TRACKING BASE HAS ALREADY LED THE UNITED STATES TO INVEST MORE THAN 100-MILLION DOLLARS IN THE TRACKING STATION AND THE ASSOCIATED AIR BASE. IN THE FUTURE, AS SPACE EXPLORATION, TRAVEL AND COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES DEVELOP, THIS ISLAND OF VOLCANIC ROCK IS GOING TO BE WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD.

    SINCE 1899 WHEN CABLES WERE FIRST LAID FROM ST. HELENA, ASCENSION ISLAND HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT LINK IN WORLD CABLE COMMUNICATIONS. IN 1939 THE CABLE AND WIRELESS COMPANY BEGAN OPERATING A WIRELESS RELAY STATION. DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR THE ISLAND TOOK ON A STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE AS WELL. THE UNITED STATES ESTABLISHED AN AIR STRIP AS A BASE FOR ANTI-SUBMARINE ACTIVITY AND A STOPPING POINT FOR PLANES BEING FERRIED FROM THE UNITED STATES TO NORTH AFRICA. THE AIR STRIP HAS SINCE DEVELOPED INTO A SUBSTANTIAL AIR BASE, AND THE U.S. HAS BUILT THE TRACKING STATION - ONE OF A SERIES ROUND THE WORLD - TO HELP IN CONTROLLING ITS GEMINI AND OTHER SPACE PROGRAMMES.

    THERE ARE ABOUT 600 U.S. PERSONNEL ON THE ISLAND, AND WHEN THE GEMINI CREWS ARE FLYING, THE MONITORING EQUIPMENT IS MANNED RIGHT ROUND THE CLOCK...AND SPEAKING OF CLOCKS, THE ATOMIC CLOCK AT THE STATION IS SO ACCURATELY TIMED THAT IT WILL ONLY LOSE ONE SECOND IN 50 YEARS.

    THE TRACKING STATION ALSO BEEN LASER LIGHT BEAM EQUIPMENT - A NEW WAY OF COMMUNICATING WITH ASTRONAUTS IN ORBIT. ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11TH, DURING THE CURRENT GEMINI SEVEN RECORD BREAKING FLIGHT, THE LASER LIGHT BEAM WAS USED FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME FOR SATELLITE-TO-GROUND COMMUNICATION. THE EXPERIMENT - SUCCESSFUL AT THE SECOND ATTEMPT - WAS CARRIED OUT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE HAWAII TRACKING STATION, BUT IN FUTURE LASERS ARE LIKELY TO BE USED FOR COMMUNICATING WITH OTHER GROUNDS STATIONS AS WELL.

    THE ADVANTAGE OF LASER BEAMS RATHER THAN RADIO, IS THAT MORE CHANNELS CAN BE INCLUDED ON A SMALL WAVELENGTH AND TRANSMITTERS WEIGH LESS. BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE UNABLE TO PENETRATE CLOUD COVER, LASERS ARE LIKELY TO BE MORE IMPORTANT FOR SPACECRAFT-TO-SPACECRAFT COMMUNICATION RATHER THAN FOR GROUND-TO-SPACECRAFT MESSAGES. NEVERTHELESS THE EXPERIMENT WAS OF THE GREATEST IMPORTANCE, AND ONE MORE PIECE IN THE SCIENTIFIC JIGSAW THAT MUST BE SOLVED BEFORE A MAN CAN GET TO THE MOON AND BACK.

    (ASCENSION ISLAND IS 760-MILES (1223-KMS) FROM ST. HELENA AND 900-MILES (1449-KMS) FROM CAPE PALMAS, WEST AFRICA. IT REMAINED UNINHABITED UNTIL 1815 WHEN BRITISH SAILORS AND MARINES OCCUPIED IT TO PREVENT FRENCH ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE NAPOLEON EXILED TO ST. HELENA. THE "LOCAL" PEOPLE COME FROM ST. HELENA. THE ISLAND'S TOTAL POPULATION, INCLUDING UNITED STATES AND BRITISH PERSONNEL AND FAMILIES, TOTAL NEARLY 1400. THE ISLAND'S CAPITAL IS GEORGETOWN. THE BBC IS SHORTLY TO ESTABLISH A RELAY STATION TO SERVICE WEST AFRICA AND SOUTH AMERICA; BUT THE BIGGEST PROJECT SCHEDULED FOR THE ISLAND IS THE NEW CABLE AND WIRELESS SATELLITE COMMUNICATION TRACKING STATION BEING BUILT FOR THE UNITED STATES APOLLO MOON PROGRAMME.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA62MUNOB8H4YQ546EUP22DBVF
    Media URN:
    VLVA62MUNOB8H4YQ546EUP22DBVF
    Group:
    Reuters - Incuding Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    13/12/1965
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:03:27:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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