Author Archives: Kerrie Dougherty

The Story of Australia’s First Airmail-part 2

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Maurice Guillaux flying his Blériot monoplane over Victoria Racecourse. Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Maurice Guillaux flying his Blériot monoplane over Victoria Racecourse. Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Flying in Cloudland! Looping the Loop! The World’s Most Daring Aviator! Aviation Extraordinary! Not long after his arrival in Sydney on April 8, Maurice Guillaux began to make headlines, as his promoters and newspaper reporters searched for superlatives to express the excitement of Guillaux’ aerial performances.
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The Story of Australia’s first Airmail-part 1

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A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

Soaring above the Transport exhibition is one of the Powerhouse Museum’s treasures, a tiny Blériot XI monoplane. With fewer than 30 aircraft made before World War 1 still preserved around the world, this aircraft would be significant for its rarity alone. But this Blériot, together its French pilot, Maurice Guillaux, also holds an important place in Australian aviation history, pioneering civil aviation in this country by carrying the first airmail from Melbourne to Sydney in July 1914.

To celebrate the centenary of the first Australian airmail, I will be contributing a series of posts on this blog over the coming months, charting the story of Maurice Guillaux, his aircraft and their important contributions to early aviation in Australia.
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Roving the Moon Forty Years Apart

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A full scale replica of the Soviet Lunokhod remote-controlled lunar rover, that operated on the Moon in 1973, can be seen in the Museum’s Space exhibition

A full scale replica of the Soviet Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled lunar rover, that operated on the Moon in 1973, can be seen in the Museum’s Space exhibition

Right now, China’s Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) roving vehicle is exploring the Mare Imbrium region on the Moon, in the early stages of a mission scheduled to last for three months. The Chang-e 3 lander that delivered Yutu to the Moon on December 14 was the first spacecraft to soft-land on the lunar surface since the former-Soviet Union’s Luna 24 sample recovery mission in August 1976. Its successful arrival makes the People’s Republic of China only the third nation, after the USSR and the United States, to place a spacecraft on the Moon. The rover itself is the first remotely controlled vehicle to operate on the Moon’s surface since USSR’s Lunokhod 2 explored the lunar terrain for four months in 1973.
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Fifty Years in the TARDIS: the golden anniversary of Doctor Who

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A TARDIS-shaped housing for an early prototype computer-based interactive being developed for the Powerhouse Museum in 1981

A TARDIS-shaped housing for an early prototype computer-based interactive being developed for the Powerhouse Museum in 1981. Image : Powerhouse Museum

The weekend of November 23/24, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first screening of the iconic British science fiction television series Doctor Who First screened in the UK on November 23, 1963, the adventures of the nameless wandering time traveller and his British police-box-shaped time machine, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space, if you’ve always wondered what that acronym meant), have been shown in countries around the world and become firmly embedded in global popular culture. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few of the Museum’s links to Doctor Who.

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Missing Russian spacecraft, Mars 3 may have been found

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A 1:2 scale model of the Mars 3 spacecraft in the Powerhouse Museum collection. The model shows Mars 3 in its interplanetary cruise configuration with the lander tucked under the conical atmospheric entry heat shield at the top of the orbiter.

A 1:2 scale model of the Mars 3 spacecraft in the Powerhouse Museum collection. The model shows Mars 3 in its interplanetary cruise configuration with the lander tucked under the conical atmospheric entry heat shield at the top of the orbiter. Collection Powerhouse Museum

When the Powerhouse Museum opened in 1988, its Space-beyond this world exhibition included several replica Soviet spacecraft on loan from the then Soviet Academy of Sciences. Amongst this collection of reproduction spacecraft was a 1:2 scale model of the USSR’s Mars 3, the first spacecraft to make a successful touchdown on the surface of Mars.
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“Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short…”

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The official portrait of the Apollo 1 crew. (l. to r. ) Edward White (Gemini IV, first US spacewalker on Gemini IV), Mission Commander Virgil Grissom (second US astronaut, on the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury flight, and Commander of Gemini III), and Roger Chaffee (his first space flight)

The end of January and beginning of February is always tinged with sadness for those interested in space flight, for it is within this period that the anniversaries occur of the three US space disasters that resulted in the loss of astronaut lives.
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Puppet master Gerry Anderson (1929-2012) in a promotional portrait taken in 1996. Photo copyright David Finchett 1996

Farewell Gerry Anderson-master of marionette magic and merchandising

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Puppet master Gerry Anderson (1929-2012) in a promotional portrait taken in 1996. Photo copyright David Finchett 1996

Puppet master Gerry Anderson (1929-2012) in a promotional portrait taken in 1996. Photo copyright David Finchett 1996

Readers of this blog post may not be familiar with the name Gerry Anderson, but you’ll almost certainly know his most famous television series Thunderbirds, which, after premiering in Australia in 1968, has been a staple of Saturday morning children’s television, screening almost non-stop since 1977.
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Apollo 17-An Unexpected Legacy

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How the “Blue Marble” view of the Earth actually looked, with South at the top. Courtesy NASA

The “Blue Marble” view of the Earth, said to be the most widely reproduced image in history. Courtesy NASA

You’ve probably seen the image above many times: it is, after all, said to be the most widely reproduced image in history. However, you may not be aware that it was taken during the Apollo 17 mission, NASA’s last lunar landing mission, that came to a successful conclusion 40 years ago today.

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History Week 2012 Threads – Dressed for Space

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Sokol KV-2 spacesuit worn by Soviet cosmonaut Gennadi Manakov in 1990. Image Courtesy Powerhouse Museum

Previously, my colleague Margaret Simpson wrote about clothing worn during Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 expedition in the extreme environment of Antarctica. Space is also an extreme environment that requires its explorers to wear a specialised garment for survival: the spacesuit. A spacesuit is like a miniature spacecraft in itself, designed to protect the wearer from the harsh vacuum environment of space while conducting an extravehicular activity (‘spacewalk’), or in the event that the life support system of their spacecraft fails.

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The Man who took that One Small Step-Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

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Neil Armstrong’s official Apollo 11 astronaut portrait. Courtesy of NASA

Neil Armstrong’s official Apollo 11 astronaut portrait. Courtesy of NASA

In July, just after the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, I wrote a blog post about the passing of first US woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride. Little did I imagine at the time that a month later I would find myself writing another blog to commemorate the passing of the commander of that mission, Neil Armstrong.

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