That first step on the moon was our’s damnit!

johnboy 16 July 2009 49

With all the hoopla surrounding the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon (a feat we’re unable to replicate today) the Courier Mail has a definitive piece explaining how the ACT’s Honeysuckle Creek was the real hero of those iconic images, and not Parkes which stole the glory in “The Dish“, and from thence into popular culture.

    After years of confusion and controversy over whose pictures were used when, most now agree Honeysuckle Creek relayed the pictures of Armstrong’s historic first step.

    Houston then switched to Parkes for all but the first eight minutes or so of the two-and-a-half-hour broadcast.

    The reason? Armstrong caught everyone on the hop by deciding to venture out ahead of schedule.

    The astronauts were supposed to sleep for six hours, but who could sleep? They had just landed on the moon.

    Parkes was set up to be the main Australian station, but the moon had not quite risen there yet.

Sure, they did two hours and twenty odd minutes of astronauts goofing around on the lunar surface, but who gives a toss about that compared to the one small step?

[Photo courtesy of Colin Mackellar’s Honeysuckle Creek tribute page]

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49 Responses to That first step on the moon was our’s damnit!
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Spectra Spectra 12:05 pm 16 Jul 09

Such a shame that all that’s left of such an historic site is a bunch of concrete slabs and a couple of signs 🙁

Danman Danman 12:12 pm 16 Jul 09

Vandals made sure early that was all to be left spectra…

Ill be going to Orroral and Honeysuckle this weekend, doing comparative photo studies of now and then

Yay for space geekerism…a trip to Kennedy Space center made sure of that for years to come.

Thumper Thumper 12:23 pm 16 Jul 09

+1 Spectra.

Look at the grass in the photo!

p1 p1 12:41 pm 16 Jul 09

Look at the grass in the photo!

Wow! that is awesome. I wonder how they got the roo’s of the grass long enough to take the photo?

trevar trevar 1:17 pm 16 Jul 09

Thumper said :

Look at the grass in the photo!

That’s not grass! Whoever heard of grass that was green?!?! How ridiculous!

Spectra Spectra 1:19 pm 16 Jul 09

Whoever heard of grass that was green?!?!

Well, it is on the other side of that fence…


Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 1:31 pm 16 Jul 09

On this topic, have received the following open invites:
The Canberra Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the local section of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics
(AIAA) proudly presents


by Mike Dinn – former Deputy Station Director, Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station

Join Mike Dinn, former Deputy Station Director at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, for a fascinating insight into Australia’s role in the Apollo 11 mission. July 21st is the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon. Australia provided communications and tracking for the Apollo 11 mission, through the ACT’s Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla facilities, as well as CSIRO’s Parkes radio-telescope and WA’s Carnarvon. Mike will give an overview of the Apollo mission, the worldwide and Australian resources used, and present a short DVD showing the first step, with synchronised network audio. This includes the precise sequence of video sources selected by Houston for release to the world. The first step video came from Honeysuckle Creek.

This public lecture is FREE and all are welcome.

Date: Tuesday 21st July 2009 at 6:00pm
Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Building #30, Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Drive, Canberra For more information contact Andrew Neely via No RSVP required.

by Wayne Lee, Altair Vehicle Systems Manager, NASA JPL

This public lecture is FREE and all are welcome.

Date: Thursday 23rd July at 6:00pm
Location: Japan Theatre, Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra More info: Contact Michael via No RSVP required. All welcome.

Talk Summary
“As we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.” Back in 1972, nobody thought 35 years would pass with that message from Apollo
17 commander Gene Cernan still standing as the last words transmitted from the surface of the Moon. Today, NASA is working to fulfill its pledge to return astronauts to the Moon by 2020. This time plans call for a crew of four to explore for up to seven days at a time with the eventual goals of possibly building a permanently occupied lunar base.
Doubling both the crew and stay time from the Apollo flights will take a booster larger than the original Saturn V Moon rocket and a lunar lander taller than a two-storey house.

In this talk Wayne Lee will describe NASA’s current lunar exploration plans as well as the gigantic machines currently under design to make it possible.

Speaker Biography
Wayne Lee is Altair Vehicle Systems Manager at NASA. Previously Wayne enjoyed great success as the mission planner for Mars operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. During the mission, Wayne would work with all the elements of the flight team to coordinate trajectories, science plans and spacecraft operations into the overall mission itinerary. Originally from San Diego, Calif., Wayne has degrees from Berkeley in electrical engineering and from the University of Texas in astronautics. Wayne has published a book on spaceflight mechanics for the layperson.

Hercsie Hercsie 1:56 pm 16 Jul 09

I was working out at Ororral Valley in 1989 and at that stage the buildings there were still standing but everything else including all the porcelain – toilets and hand basins were smashed.

The old Univac computer was still largely untouched – lol – it filled a room and had I think 4K of memory – as I plug in a 4Gig USB stick……..

For some reason the vandals had left it alone I wonder what ever happened to it.

Hercsie Hercsie 1:58 pm 16 Jul 09

Thanks for passing on the invites Al!

Trunking symbols Trunking symbols 2:24 pm 16 Jul 09

One thing a lot of people don’t know is that the original NASA video of the moon landing went missing within days, presumably stolen. The film we have seen over the years was achieved by pointing a camera at the TV screen during the landing.

chewy14 chewy14 2:31 pm 16 Jul 09

Trunking symbols said :

One thing a lot of people don’t know is that the original NASA video of the moon landing went missing within days, presumably stolen. The film we have seen over the years was achieved by pointing a camera at the TV screen during the landing.

That was because the resolution between NASA’s footage and TV at the time was different.
And apparently they have recently found the original footage.

Peewee Slasher Peewee Slasher 3:08 pm 16 Jul 09

I’ve actually looked at the chart recorder paper that was measuring Neil Armstrongs heartbeat as he stepped onto the Moons surface. It peaked seriously.

NASA said dump everything and some employees were wise enough to keep a few souvenirs.

My heartbeat increased when I saw it, and heard from the man who was working there that day/night.

I believe he’s instrumental in the re-union that’s coming up.

Pandy Pandy 3:19 pm 16 Jul 09

I walked through both Honeysuckle and Orroral on the same day in ’89 during a bushwalk. 20 years ago! Yes the toilets were busted, and wiring stripped for the copper. Some of the equipment was still there but. The cooling oil in the transformers at the power station at Honeysuckle was spread all over the ground. Fascinating to go through the canteens and command rooms. Still one of my favourites sites for a picnic.

For anyone who is space cadet:

Pelican Lini Pelican Lini 3:44 pm 16 Jul 09

Parkes will be devastated at the loss of their (fake) ID.
Oh well, they’ve still got Elvis … sort of

Spectra Spectra 4:22 pm 16 Jul 09

Vandals made sure early that was all to be left spectra…

Indeed, but for such a piece of history, surely between NASA and the Australian government they could have found the spare change for a security guard or two…

After all there’ll never be another point in human history when, for the first time ever, we set foot on a celestial body other than Earth. It is, depending on your point of view (and certainly in my opinion), one of the defining moments in our history as a species.

Oh well – should’a, would’a, could’a. Can’t bring it back now 🙁

andym andym 4:35 pm 16 Jul 09

The Honeysuckle Creek antenna is due to be decomissioned soon from Tidbinbilla. Wonder what is going to happen to it? Be nice to se it reinstalled back up at Honeysuckle if its just going to be scrapped.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 4:50 pm 16 Jul 09

Well, if nothing else, the road to the old Honeysuckle Creek site is a jolly nice one. Just watch out for the jump, haha!

Feathergirl Feathergirl 4:58 pm 16 Jul 09

The picture featured looks so different to what is at the Honeysuckle site now it is a little hard to believe it’s the same spot. The bush has really taken back the area. It’d be cold up there at this time of year, has anyone seen any snow up there if they’ve been up recently?

Danman Danman 6:11 pm 16 Jul 09

Feathergirl, I hope to see snow this weekend…see post #2

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 6:23 pm 16 Jul 09

My dad had a friend who worked in the Deakin phone exchange (at least that’s what they *called* it 😉 )
He was able to sit with him and listen in on the transmissions between our bases and NASA.
I have to be satisfied with crowing that I watched the footstep on the only TV (tiny B&W) that Red Hill Primary had. My memory consists of teachers trying in vain to shush us all, and barely more than black and white blotches on the TV itself. But at least I saw it…
AndyM – great idea! And where is Honeysuckle Creek anyway (he says knowing he should just google it…) – I know I went there as a kid because I recognise it from the photo above.

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