Pine Gap, Australia

1966 is a long time ago now, yet that is when what is referred to today as Pine Gap, but it’s official title was originally “Joint Defence Space Research Facility”. That seems fairly innocuous doesn’t it. After all, many people are interested in space from amateur astronomers to highly qualified astro-physicists.

Pine Gap by Skyring
Skyring, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, the facility was renamed in 1988 to Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap. It’s a subtle change, but does it reflect a change of mission for the CIA, NSA and the Australian government operating at this site?

Has the research phase of space been completed and a new phase of defence preparedness begun?

Like RAF Menworth Hill in Yorkshire, the base has expanded rapidly since it’s inception and the ray domes, colloquially known as golf balls in the UK, have sprouted up protecting the dishes they hide. Views of Menworth Hill use to be easy to get with a decent camera however last time I passed there, some clever landscaping had been done to restrict views for the public. I wonder if it is the same at Pine Gap.

So if you find yourself near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, why not have a trip out in the car the south west and see what you can see. Is the Australian Government any more open than the UK Government? Or do they have their own version of the camo dudes from Area 51. It would be interesting to find out.


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