Project ThunderStruck

Project ThunderStruck set to Break Barriers ThunderStruck vertical

by Robert Brand

Here is a story of what my son is about to do and I will of course mentor him. If anyone is interested at any level, please contact me. 0448881101. The launch site looks like it will be at Longreach Queensland in early April 2015

The piece below was written for another group, but it tells the story. We are after sponsors, so if you can help nail down a sponsor we will pay 10% commission. That is standard in the industry.

Imagine a time when a 12 year student could build a supersonic glider 2.5m / 8ft long, attach it to a huge helium or hydrogen balloon and take it to the edge of space, release it, fly it into a dive back to earth that will reach Mach 1.5 / 1,800kph / 1,120mph and land it. Well that time is now and the student is Jason Brand from Sydney Secondary College / Balmain Campus. He is in year 7 and has already broken plenty of records. Breaking the sound barrier will be another cool record. His flight will break a lot of other records too. Continue reading

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Saving Apollo 11 – erh – no!

Spaceflight-Cover-2014-12Spaceflight Interview.

As most of my old ex-otc mates know, I am heavily involved in the space sector and even bump into Bill Barrett occasionally. I recently had this interview published in Spaceflight magazine. Note that I did NOT put the title on the page “Saving Apollo 11”, nor did I say anything so stupid – seems the editor thought that a nice touch. It was in a prestigious UK space magazine: “Spaceflight”

My words are very tame in the interview in that regard. My friend Nick Howes (the interviewer) from the UK also thinks I am being humble when I tell him I didn’t do much other than wiring. I was asked by Wayne Ozarko to lend a hand along with fellow trainee Paul Davies (never heard from Paul since he went to the UK around 1970). Editors want to sell magazines. They embellish the facts. Continue reading

Apollo Heritage Interview

Hangout-Ad006Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Hangout – Apollo Heritage and the GLXP.

by Robert Brand

Well the Apollo Heritage event is over and I had a lot of fun with the interview or should I say “armchair chat”. It was a very comfortable discussion. I am excited to tell you that there is a video of the event. It was recorded and the link is below. I must say that I am very taken with Dr. Pamela L. Gay (the host) and her interview style. I was never left with a feeling of “what will happen next”. Continue reading

Apollo 11 45th Interview

Hangout 006 GLXP Apollo 11 45thRobert Brand is a Special Guest for Apollo 11 GLXP Hangout

Not much to say, but to follow the link below and be part of the Apollo 11 special event for the Google Lunar X Prize Team Hangout.

I will be discussing my experiences wiring up the Apollo 11 gear in Sydney – not that this was an amazing event, but since I am part of a group building a mission to go to the moon with a Rover, it appears that I am about the only person in the GLXP with a connection to the Apollo 11 event. Continue reading

Personal Spacecraft in Orbit

kicksatKickSat Mothership Achieves Orbit.

by Robert Brand

Remember the small prototype of a KickSat (photo right)? I wrote about it in an earlier post. In mid April, 2014 it was tucked inside its mothership and that was inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that blasted into orbit with the ISS resupply cargo module.

Wikipedia says:This was the SpaceX CRS-3, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, contracted to NASA, which was launched on 18 April 2014. It was the 5th flight for SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft and the third SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract.” Continue reading

Andy from Melbourne Launches High Altitude Balloon

High Altitude Balloon Success. Payload Recovered from almost 37km Altitude.Andy PS1 Preparing to fly

Jason and I went to Deniliquin NSW (Australia) to help a good friend, Andy from exOTC Melbourne, launch and recover a high altitude balloon and payload. My son, Jason (11), and I have launched and recovered 16 of our own payloads to date and assisted with many others and we love High Altitude Balloons (HABs) so giving Andy a hand was a real pleasure.

If you were working for OTC in Melbourne in the early 1990s, you will know Andy. He does not want his last name mentioned online. Continue reading

Personal Update – Robert Brand

Robert Brand ParkesPersonal Update

By Robert Brand

Sorry for the lack of posts – it has been 5 months, but life has gone to being extremely ridiculous workload-wise.

The OTVA has their Autumn Social event on Friday 5th April at the Bowlers Club located at 95-97 York St Sydney.  RVSP to Peter Bull so that he can submit the numbers to the Functions Coordinator prior to the day. Respond early to avoid disappointment. Continue reading

Life After OTC

Robert Brand Part 4

by Robert Brand

So far I have not had anyone else telling me what they are up to after OTC so I will update you on some very new developments in my life. Yes, new in the last few weeks.

Life takes some pretty interesting turns and my headlong rush into the space sector only started 3 years ago as mentioned. We all had something to do with Space missions for NASA or ESA, whether you were in Accounts or Ops. It was what OTC did, but it was the terrestrial and satellite side. Continue reading

Weather Balloon Success

UpLift-2 Payload Recovered

by Robert Brand

As I mentioned previously I was flying a weather balloon on Sept 25th. I cannot tell you too much about the helium filled weather balloon flight other than it was a success, because of a “Non Disclosure Agreement” (NDA). Since it was also carrying a Mars Mission Payload I can tell you that all objectives were met. It carried an amateur radio APRS tracker that sent back GPS details every 20 seconds. Continue reading

Want to Join a Weather Balloon Launch?

Launch and Recovery.

by Robert Brand.

This is not about OTC, but since there are many that are interested in HAM radio and technology, I am posting this as a general interest post. If you want to take part of find out more or even track the flight, you can find out more here:

http://wotzup.com/

This post is straight from my WotzUp website:

I mentioned to many people that I would like to launch a high altitude balloon flight in the next School Holidays here in NSW, Australia. I had thought that it would be an experiment in stability and camera work, but it appears that another opportunity has arisen and the experiment has changed – more on that later Continue reading

Team Stellar

The Google Lunar X Prize

by Robert Brand

Three years ago I had nothing to do with space other than Moon Bounce – using amateur radio to bounce signals off the moon and back to earth.

Today I just accepted the roll of manager for Communications, Navigation and Data (CND) for an attempt to land a probe on the moon and beam back video from a rover that has to travel 500m. The team is called Team Stellar and it is new. The team is in competition for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP). What is the GLXP? From their website:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit. Continue reading

OTC Trainee Tool Kits 1968

The Right Tool for the Job

by Robert Brand

Seems that there would be few of us exOTC people with a pretty good intact OTC tool kit that was issued as far back as 1968. Well, say hello to three of them! The big one I was issued as I started work in 1969 as a Technician in Training at the DCA Regional Training School at Waverton. The other two smaller kits were picked up from ITMC Sydney staff that left and their tool kits were not collected from them.

The reason I collected the extra kits was that there were tool kit checks and you had to produce your kit and it had to have all the tools or you had to replace them. The other two kits were considered by me as donor kits as tools often went missing through no fault of your own. Tools strayed when you had a large job and a few people were involved. I do not expect that they were intentionally taken, but accidentally. Continue reading

Business Today

Keeping it in the Family

by Robert Brand

1. Camping Out

Life goes on and business is business. Most of us have gone on to other things very diverse from OTC days. None so diverse as our old OTC mate Bruce Boler. After traveling the world with OTC and installing comms systems in the most unusual of places he now runs a camping trailer business based at this home in Hurstville. Sydney Camper Trailer is an accredited franchise of Johnno’s Camper Trailers. Continue reading

OTC at Spacefest IV 2012

OTC’s Space History on Display.

by Robert Brand.

Many of you may not know that I have recently moved (partially) into the Space sector, but I am not talking about just comms. I am talking about designing and engineering a space mission. In mid September I will announce the details of a mission I have become deeply involved in that will see probes land on another planet. Continue reading

The ITMC Lunchroom Phone

Shrinking the Paddington ITMC Orderwire Desk to Size

by Robert Brand

If you have ever been on a 3 person shift and 2 are busy and it is your lunch break and you are sitting in the lunchroom, you just know the phone will ring and you have to hike it out to the orderwire desk quick-smart and answer the phone. The result has been burnt food, lost calls and plenty of annoyance. Continue reading

Paddington Telephone Exchange Hacking

ITMC PaddingtonThe First Australian International Phone Hack

by Robert Brand

In researching the first telephone exchange to be installed at the OTC Paddington terminal, Peter Bull today came across this reference. It is from a very well documented site on Australian Communications. http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/tia/559.html Continue reading

Life After OTC

Robert Brand Part 3

Gene Cernan and Robert Brand

Life takes some pretty interesting turns and my headlong rush into the space sector started 3 years ago as mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2. Pat Barthelow, a HAM radio operator from the US, asked the OTVA to organise a Moon Bounce for the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 back in June 2009. After the next 12 months my knowledge of space had grown considerably as I was posting stories on my Echoes of Apollo Website.

http://echoesofapollo.com Continue reading

Life After OTC

Robert Brand Part 2

The Wireless Institute of Australia Magazine Article WMBD

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD). Much of it was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) Continue reading

Life After OTC

Robert BrandRobert Brand – Part 1
World Moon Bounce

A lot has happened since my departure from OTC but a quick note to say that I am extremely involved in the space sector these days. I still work in comms for mines, but also satellite and beyond. What is interesting is that 3.5 years ago the OTVA got contacted by a gentleman wanting to do a commemorative HAM radio event between the Jamesburg Earth Station and the Parkes Radio telescope. Basically bouncing signals off the moon and back to earth and using big dishes to do the work. In the week before the Apollo 11 40th Anniversary (July 2009) dishes from all over the world took part in World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD) and it was a great success. Notably Jamesburg and Parkes never took part! Continue reading

Visiting Jamesburg Earth Station (USA)

AT&T’s Jamesburg Dish – by Robert brand

In early June 2012 I visited the Jamesburg site with the intention of surveying the site and turning it into a data centre. The site was abandoned by AT&T in 2002 following the attacks on the NY World Trade Center buildings. It was thought by AT&T that Jamesburg was too vulnerable to aircraft attack of a similar nature. I recently set up a company that is now looking to buy the site. The 2 day visit was like a trip back in time as many of the site’s offices and systems were still fully intact.

Continue reading