Lee Grant

Moonstruck: The Trackers of Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla

Since 1957, Australia has played an integral role in every deep-space mission NASA has flown. In the 1960s, three space-tracking stations were built in the region around Canberra: the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla (1964), Orroral Valley (1966) and Honeysuckle Creek (1967). Only a few of the many thousands of personnel who operated each station are featured in Moonstruck, a series that portrays seven space trackers who actively supported Apollo (and other) missions from Australia.

I wanted to show each tracker gazing skywards, to the moon perhaps or to infinity and the potential beyond. By shooting in B&W, I thought of some of the earliest B&W images made of the moon.

Each portrait is paired with an object of significance representative to that person; mementoes symbolic of their professional work, and pride in an achievement that today remains as incredulous as it did 50 years ago. By including objects, I wanted to reference the very analogue nature of space exploration at the time of the moon landing. Very big things were achieved with very basic technology. Yet at the heart of these big things were people. Everyday people, who in working together became part of something bigger than themselves.

Of course, every one of the trackers stated that they “were just doing their jobs” but I suspect that even they knew (if not at the time) that the race to the moon was something altogether extraordinary, and that all of them, with the benefit of hindsight, understand that their legacy is larger than they might have ever imagined.