Jamesburg in a Movie

Battleship (2012) uses Jamesburg Earth Station (graphically).

Sure Jamesburg Earth Station is not the only dish with this design, there are two others. One still in use in South America and another somewhere in the US – possibly Alaska from memory. The identical AT&T sister dish on the east coast was demolished many years ago. Jamesburg, however is the most well photographed and documented of the remaining dishes and thus attracts attention.

I was watching a movie set in current Hawaii (Battleship) on the weekend and was surprised to see this very early dish design from 50 years ago being used to contact aliens from a distant star system. It was hard to concentrate on the movie each time the dish came into view on the screen. In fact there were three of these dishes on the island mountain top and all equipped with a very modern system to beam signals somehow to a relay satellite. Yes, the movie was technically unbelievable anyway, but this made it worse. It was also heart wrenching to see the three dishes explode at the end of the movie.Of course the dishes were graphically reproduced as were the explosions.

So how close was the reproduction. Well, extremely close. They added a box to the top of the subreflector quadropod and the base was a bit slimmer, but that was it. The staining was also identical, but emphasised in the movie. I doubt that we will ever see Ceduna, Moree or Carnarvon dishes in this way, but if one relic from the past can manage a resurrection, then who knows?

While I was visiting the Jamesburg site, a film crew was actually filming the dish for an iPad interactive game to be called “200 seconds” so we can expect to see it emerge again from the archives!

Here is a comparison and some shots from the movie:

Note that the structure on the right of the movie dish is on the original also, but obscured due to the angles

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