Feeds

Woomera: Ghosts of Britain's space past

El Reg treads the Prohibited Area

Build a business case: developing custom apps

During our recent Oz roadtrip in pursuit of the World Solar Challenge, El Reg's Special Projects Bureau made a lightning visit to Woomera, where Britain's space programme was played out and, ultimately, laid to rest.

The town (pictured below on Google Earth) was established in 1947 as the core of a joint Anglo-Australian testing range - the vast Woomera Prohibited Area, which might be, we thought, the perfect place to launch our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) spaceplane.

Aerial view of Woomera

We had only 40 minutes or so to recce Woomera, before getting back on the Stuart Highway to Adelaide, some 480km to the south. It's a spooky place, as those readers who've been there will confirm. Although it once housed thousands of people, the only sign of life we detected was the distant sound of some kids splashing around in a swimming pool.

Although Woomera is evidently not dead - and testing in the Prohibited Area continues to this day - the UK space programme it once hosted certainly is.

On 28 October, 1971, a Black Arrow rocket launched from Woomera and carried the Prospero satellite into orbit, even though the British government had already cancelled the programme.

On that day, Britain became the only nation ever to develop a successful home-grown satellite launching capability, and then abandon it completely.

By a strange co-incidence, 28 October was the date of our successful Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) aircraft launch last year, which got us thinking that perhaps a British scientific return to Woomera is destined to be, by way of tribute to all those who flew the flag Down Under, only to have their work ultimately thrown away by politicians.

Wiping a small tear from the corner of our eyes, then, we cruised the streets of Woomera, in the tyre tracks of a previous visitor - a Google Orwellian spymobile whose all-seeing eye has served up the whole place on Street View:

Woomera streets on Street View

The Woomera missile park, seen on Street View

As perhaps is appropriate for ghostly Woomera, the Street View car managed to capture a ghostly image of itself as it passed the Woomera Village Store...

The Woomera Village Store on Street View

...which is almost as interesting as the words "BOTTLE SHOP" writ large. Let's face it, there's no way the LOHAN team is going to go mob-handed to Woomera if it can't source cold stubbies.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Next page: 1:

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.