Have you seen the real thing… come and see
The inspiration for our City of Light event are files from the City of Perth, one of the many local government authorities represented in our collection. The files include a summary from then Lord Mayor, Sir Harry Howard, detailing his concerns about the effectiveness of the idea of a light for John Glenn, as well as his later warm endorsement for the project. Sir Harry later travelled to New York to take part in the ticker tape parade to welcome home John Glenn, where he himself became something of a celebrity.
Other files, from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, provide background into Project Mercury – the NASA project which included John Glenn’s orbit. As part of Project Mercury, a tracking centre was established at Muchea and John Glenn’s communications were relayed from there to the wirelesses of countless West Australians. It was the first time that an Australian had spoken to a space traveller.
Following on from the success of Project Mercury, NASA engineers worked with the Australian Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia and the Shire of Carnarvon to establish the tracking station at Carnarvon which was later to play its own role in space history, with the 1969 moon landing.
As part of the City of Light event, the State Records Office will be displaying pages from some of these files.
Lise Summers, PhD