TEXAS Tracking Station

The NASA tracking station in Corpus Christi played an important role in manned space flight. Referred to as TEXAS, or "TEX," it was located on Rodd Field, an auxiliary airfield used to train flight students from nearby Naval Air Station Corpus Christi during World War II.

 

Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Pete Conrad trained at NAS Corpus Christi before serving in combat. In the 1960s, Rodd Field became a strategic location for tracking because orbiting spacecraft normally flew over the station.

In 1965 it became one of the first tracking stations with the ability to command a spacecraft instead of simply tracking it. Over TEXAS, Gus Grissom in Gemini III performed a maneuver to change the orbit of a spacecraft for the first time in history. This was necessary to demonstrate the rendezvous capabilities for later Gemini and Apollo missions.

 

TEX was also one of the first two stations equipped with an RCA slow-scan converter to adjust signals from the spacecraft to commercial standard television. When Apollo 7 broadcast the first live images from space, the television show began over Corpus Christi, and ended over Merritt Island, Florida, where the other similarly equipped tracking station was located.

Sadly, all that remains of the TEX location is part of the pad on which the 30 foot Unified S-Band dish sat, and a base for the VERLORT (Very Long Range Tracking) radar.

Thanks to Colin Mackellar in Sydney, Australia. This pamphlet cover and much of the information about tracking stations come from him. His website honoring the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station and his personal website are highly recommended.

Images of TEX Tracking Station

Images of Rodd Field

Newspaper articles from the Corpus Christi Caller Times

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