Today marks the end of the Paardefontein Tracking Station near Hammanskraal in the Northern Transvaal, founded after mutual agreement between the South African and the French governments in January 1964.
This protocol agreement allowed CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) to establish a satellite tracking station on a 51,4 hectare site at Paardefontein, the CSIR as the agent of the South African' government in the execution of the protocol stipulations.
In March 1968 the agreement was extended to allow for the use of Paardefontein as a CNES site for the launching of scientific balloons. In April 1973 a further agreement provided for the management and operation of the Station by the CSIR on behalf of CNES.

In January 1974 the CSIR appointed Jack Goddard, who was formerly operations manager of the Deep Space Station at Hartebeesthoek as Manager of the Paardefontein station.
A new agreement between the CSIR and CNES was' reached in January 1978, providing for the sharing of the operating costs of the station by the two organizations.
In September 1980 it was decided that tracking operations at Paardefontein would be transferred to the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre at Hartebeesthoek after the end of 1980.

From January 1981 to July 1981 the Paardefontein station was kept operating with a reduced staff so as to support the delayed launching of the Ariane II rocket.
They were Robert Guedj, station manager, Suzan van Bellinghen, secretary, Paul Jordaan (operator), Johan Helberg operator and general factotum and Bryan Reith (operator).
This rocket was successfully launched in June 1981, placing three satellites in geostationary orbit. One of these was Meteosat II, which is a satellite of very great, importance to South African meteorologists.
Although the station will close down from today, the site at Paardefontein will be used in future mainly as an antenna test facility. Selected balloons will still be launched from there as well.
The five remaining members of staff are being transferred to Hartebeesthoek.


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