50th Anniversary: Canberra’s role in the Moon landing

50th Anniversary: Canberra’s role in the Moon landing

# 21 July 2019 AEST marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and many Canberrans don’t realise the crucial role the ACT played in the Apollo mission or the region’s rich Space heritage.

An estimated 600 million people around the world watched Neil Armstrong take a small step on to the Moon. Less than a minute before Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon, NASA switched over the live broadcast feed to Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Those images of Neil Armstrong’s extraordinary first steps and the audio of his immortal words were received and relayed from right here in the ACT.

The Space industry is a big deal in Canberra and in the 1960s the ACT had three separate tracking stations at Tidbinbilla, Honeysuckle and Orroral Valley.

The Honeysuckle Creek station was part of The Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) and was able to communicate with Apollo spacecraft at lunar distances. When NASA turned their focus to Deep Space tracking, the station followed suit and assisted with the tracking of the Viking and Voyager space probes.

# In 1981 the station closed and the antenna was relocated to Tidbinbilla. Now it stands there as a monument for all to see. These days the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla helps track the Mars Rovers, the Hubble telescope, and dozens of other spacecraft.

Nowadays Honeysuckle is a camping ground that allows an escape from the city. The picturesque location is prefect to pitch a tent, lay back and look to the stars at a site that will always have a connection to Space.

Are you now feeling a sense of wonder? Everyone in Canberra can celebrate the role the ACT has played in space exploration over the years with these useful links:

Also keep an eye out for fun facts and amazing pictures on our ACT Parks and Conservation Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the week!

Photos:

  • Honeysuckle at night by Hamish Lindsay
  • Full Moon at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station by Ari Rex