Satellite Tracking Station Records,
1953-1968

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 263
Creators:
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Satellite Tracking Program
Dates:
1953-1968
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
10.9 linear meters.
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
This record unit consists mostly of records documenting the administration and operation of the STP tracking stations and includes files on the stations kept by the Photographic Observation Section, 1956-1961; SOD, 1961-1965; and STADAD, 1965-1968. The station files consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence and memoranda, reports, and technical data concerning satellite tracking operations; station fiscal matters; the construction and maintenance of station buildings and facilities; conferences and meetings held at the stations; the procurement of equipment and supplies for the stations; station personnel; and special projects conducted at each station. Also included are administrative records of SOD and STADAD; station files and administrative records of the Engineering Section of SOD and STADAD, mostly concerning the operation of the Baker-Nunn tracking cameras at each station; station financial statements; and records documenting relations between SAO and foreign countries or states where tracking stations were located.
Many of the files in this record unit are arranged in a numerical-subject records management system instituted at SAO about 1964. In the system, records were assigned a number code based on subject classification and filed numerically. Often records prior to 1964 were refiled using the numerical-subject system. Retrieval of records using the system is difficult. For a detailed explanation of the SAO numerical-subject filing system, see appendix 1 in the Archives.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Created in 1956 as part of the International Geophysical Year, the Satellite Tracking Program (STP) of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) was a world-wide network of stations responsible for the optical tracking of satellites. From 1956 until June 1959, the program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. In July 1959, funding was assumed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The goal of STP was to obtain photographs of satellites in sufficient number and accuracy to allow the determination of highly precise orbits. Data derived from the orbits provided information concerning variations in the density and temperature of the upper atmosphere and helped construct new representations of the earth's gravitational potential and geometrical figure. Twelve camera stations were established around the world between 36 degrees north and 36 degrees south of the equator. Stations were located at Jupiter, Florida (closed in 1967); Organ Pass, New Mexico (moved to Mt. Hopkins, Arizona in 1968); Maui, Hawaii; Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, West Indies (moved to Natal, Brazil, in 1966); Arequipa, Peru; Villa Dolores, Argentina (moved to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, in 1966); Shiraz, Iran (moved to Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, in 1966); Olifantsfontein, South Africa; Naini Tal, India; San Fernando, Spain; Tokyo, Japan (closed in 1968); and Woomera, Australia (moved to the Space Research Site at Island Lagoon, Australia, in 1964). Cooperative programs enabled STP to track satellites at United States Air Force stations at Oslo, Norway, and Johnston and Kwajalein Islands in the Pacific Ocean; the Royal Canadian Air Force station at Cold Lake, Alberta; Harvard University's Agassiz Station; and the geodetic station at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. A special satellite tracking camera, designed by James C. Baker and Joseph Nunn, was installed in each station.
When it was created in 1956, STP was a part of SAO's Upper Atmosphere Studies Division. The 12 satellite tracking camera stations were administered by the Photographic Observation Section, under the direction of Karl G. Henize. In 1961, STP became a separate Department of SAO. At that time the Station Operations Division (SOD) was created within STP for the administrative direction and logistical support of all satellite tracking camera stations, for maintenance of equipment and development of new equipment and techniques, and for technical support in observing procedures. SOD was organized into three sections: Administrative, Operations, and Engineering. Richard C. Brock became the first chief of the Station Operations Division in June 1961. Other incumbents included Jan Rolff, 1962-1964, and Carl W. Hagge, acting chief, 1964-1965. In 1965, SOD was abolished and replaced by the Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Department (STADAD). STADAD assumed the duties of its predecessor and was also responsible for administering SAO's Meteor Simulation Project station at Wallops Island, Virginia. STADAD was comprised of five divisions: Optical Tracking Division, Moonwatch Division, Wallops Island Division, Engineering Division, and Administrative Support Division. John I. Hsia was appointed the first manager of STADAD in 1965. Other incumbents included Jack A. Coffey, 1966-1968, and Harry Albers, 1968- .

Notes
SI Records

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 263, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Satellite Tracking Program, Satellite Tracking Station Records

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Albers, Harry R. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brock, Richard C. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coffey, Jack A. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hagge, Carl W. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Henize, Karl Gordon, 1926- Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hsia, John I. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rolff, Jan Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Satellite Tracking Program (SAO) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Satellite Tracking Program (SAO). Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Department (SAO) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Department (SAO). Satellite Tracking Program (SAO) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Station Operations Division (SAO). Satellite Tracking Program (SAO) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Upper Atmosphere Studies Division (SAO). Satellite Tracking Program (SAO) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Air Force Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Astrophysical observatories. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
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