Reunion in the land of the sky spies

Few places are as packed with secrecy and discovery as “Rosman station,” as it was long called. Now the people who have worked at this remarkable facility are holding their first reunion, and you’re invited.

The Friday, June 15, gathering (see details below) could prove to be a remarkable assemblage of people who pursued such intriguing endeavors as space travel, international espionage and advanced astronomical research.

Rosman is a small town in the mountains near Brevard that landed a huge federal boon in 1963 when NASA established a tracking station there to help get the country’s space-flight program off the ground. The facility assisted with lunar missions and other astronomical adventures until the late 1970s, when satellite technology made it obsolete.

Enter the National Security Agency, the deeply secretive outfit that conducts the nation’s eavesdropping operations by listening to and intercepting all manner of international communications. The NSA ran Rosman station from 1981 to 1995, when the facility was again shuttered. Enter the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, or PARI, which acquired the site and today runs it as an research and educational center that hosts top astrology students from throughout the University of North Carolina system and, indeed, from around the world. (For the full history of the facility, including its top-secret phase, see the 2004 Xpress article “Land of the Sky Spies.”)

Now PARI wants to bring those who worked at Rosman station through the years together to share memories. “Everyone is invited to attend this event,” PARI founder Don Cline said in a press release, “but we especially encourage people who have worked at the site to visit and make this a true ‘reunion.’ If you worked here at any time during the site’s history, or if you were involved in any aspect of the site’s operation, we hope you will come and share your experiences with us and the others in attendance.”

The event will feature a site tour, a historical presentation and a space-observation session.

The reunion starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 15. Pre-registration, which will be accepted until 3 p.m. the day of the event, is required. To register, contact PARI Science Educator Beth Harris at (828) 862-5554 or e-mail to bharris@pari.edu. For more details, visit the PARI Web site.

— Jon Elliston, news editor

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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