It was a small step for a man, a giant leap for humanity and only a small stumbling block to disaster.
The moon landing broadcast was the most dramatic television broadcast of all time and it was a small group of Australians who worked under extreme pressure and made it a success.
People first walked on the moon 50 years ago and almost half of that time two Australian scientific teams disagreed as to who beamed the first historical images around the world.
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It was a small step for a man, a giant leap for humanity and a small stumbling block for total calamity. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is depicted on the moon near the lunar module
The moon landing broadcast was the most dramatic television broadcast of all time and it was a small group of Australians who worked under extreme pressure and made it a success. Pictured is the CSIRO radio telescope in Parkes in the center of West New South Wales
Neil Armstrong (left) was the commander of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon in July 1969. Michael Collins (center) was command module pilot and Buzz Aldrin (right) pilot of the moon mirror. President John Kennedy had sworn in 1961 that the US would put a man on the moon
The management of the tracking stations in Parkes, in the center of New South Wales, and Honeysuckle Creek, near Canberra, each wanted to claim credit.
The Parkes Observatory is run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of the United Kingdom and Honeysuckle Creek was a NASA-led facility.
Only in 1993 – 24 years after the moon landing – the two stations finally agreed in writing which team deserved the honor of transmitting the moon landing images.
The release in 2000 of the popular Australian film The Dish, which featured a dramatized version of the role of the Parkes radio telescope in the operation, further disturbed the truth.
The first grainy images of Neil Armstrong who set foot on the moon were broadcast to 600 million viewers around the world – one-fifth of humanity – from the 26-meter-long antenna at Honeysuckle Creek.
Parkes quickly took over and provided better quality coverage of the rest of the moon walk through its 64-meter satellite dish.
The Tidbinbillla tracking station, now known as Canberra's Deep Space Communication Complex, also supported the Apollo 11 mission.
But a fire in the power supply of the transmitter at Tidbinbilla two days before landing stopped playing every role in the broadcast.
The first grainy images of Neil Armstrong who set foot on the moon were broadcast to 600 million viewers around the world – one-fifth of humanity – from the 26-meter-long antenna at Honeysuckle Creek. That satellite dish was depicted after he moved to Tidbinbilla, outside of Canberra
The 2000 release of the Australian film The Dish, which featured a dramatized version of the role of the Parkes radio telescope in the moon landing broadcast, further disturbed the truth. From left to right, actors Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Sam Neil and Keith Harrington are depicted
Backup schedules have been formulated for every other conceivable problem.
The Parkes staff has learned how to move the board manually and must switch to diesel power during the operation if the power fails.
NASA wanted to use its American station at Goldstone in the Mojave Desert in California to transfer the moon landing, but in all that excitement someone forgot to skip one switch there.
That mistake and other unforeseen circumstances meant that a mission that had been planned for years had to be adjusted in the last minutes.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong took his & # 39; one giant leap for humanity & # 39; at 12.56 pm on Monday, July 21, 1969 in the Australian Eastern Standard Time (2.56 pm Greenwich Mean Time).
The Eagle Moon Module had exceeded the intended landing site by about 6 kilometers too far and was on its way to a boulder area before Armstrong took the hand and landed on the Sea of Tranquility.
There was only about 30 seconds of fuel left in the Eagle.
NASA had intended to use its American station at Goldstone in California to transfer the moon landing, but in all that excitement someone forgot to switch one switch. Shown is a screen grip of a special report from CBS News in which the lunar module is shown on the surface of the moon
After they first walked on the moon in July 1969, American astronauts were back on the moon surface in November that year. Depicted is Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad with the American flag
Armstrong's biomedical data, checked at Honeysuckle Creek, showed that his heart rate peaked at 112 beats per minute when he stepped on the moon.
(The normal resting heart rate for a person varies from 60 to 100 beats per minute).
That step fulfilled half of President John Kennedy's important goal in 1961 – & # 39; before this decade is over, a man lands on the moon and brings him safely to Earth & # 39 ;.
Armstrong's first job when he left the landing module was to turn on a camera with a view of the eagle's ladder, which he did.
The engineers were in California waiting to receive that weak signal, but when Armstrong began his descent, the photos that Goldstone sent to mission control in Houston were upside down.
Glen Nagle of the Deep Space Communication Complex in Canberra near Tidbinbilla recently explained what happened next to James Carouso, the American deputy head of mission in Australia.
& # 39; Hundreds of thousands of people are working on the Apollo missions, millions of people around the world are waiting to see it on television, and they have an upside down image, & # 39; Nagle said.
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong is pictured in the Eagle Moon module shortly before he was the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong was followed by Buzz Aldrin
& # 39; So they have to find another photo and be fast. Neil is already on the ladder – he will not wait for anyone.
& # 39; So NASA is looking at Australia. We were kind of the rescue.
& # 39; They went to Honeysuckle, they had a photo, it was a great photo and it was the right way up.
& # 39; They switched the switch just in time for 600 million people around the world to see how Neil took those last few steps up the ladder to plant his left foot on the moon's surface.
& # 39; And of course to express those immortal words. & # 39;
& # 39; It was that little dish in Honeysuckle Creek, the smallest dish in the world that played a role in the Apollo 11 mission that actually got those first pictures and broadcast them all over the planet. & # 39;
Parkes, Honeysuckle Creek and Goldstone all received and sent images that day and there are still some minor discrepancies about what exactly happened.
Four days after the lunar landing, astronauts Neil Armstrong (left), Michael Collins (center) and Buzz Aldrin (right) are hailed by US President Richard Nixon while still in quarantine
Eight and a half minutes after the first images of Honeysuckle and Goldstone disappeared, NASA switched to the television signal received by the Parkes radio telescope.
Parkes provided footage for the next two hours and 12 minutes of live broadcast while Armstrong was accompanied by Buzz Aldrin and the couple explored the surface of the moon.
& # 39; While the Parkes telescope successfully received the signals, the opportunity did not go without problems & # 39 ;, says the CSIRO website.
& # 39; The lunar module landed at 6.17am AEST. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to rest before the moon walk, but Neil Armstrong wanted to get started.
& # 39; The astronauts slowly got into their suits and when they came out, the moon was over Parkes. & # 39;
During the flight to the moon and while the astronauts were orbiting the Earth, the weather at Parkes would have been perfect.
Then suddenly a violent squall threatened to ruin months of work.
A close-up of the boot and footprint of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon's surface has been photographed with a 70mm lunar surface camera. Twelve men have walked on the moon
& # 39; The telescope was completely inverted, waiting for the moon to rise, when a series of strong gusts – 110 kilometers per hour – strikes & & # 39 ;, says the CSIRO.
The telescope was suddenly subjected to the worst barrage of bad weather in history – wind force ten times stronger than what was considered safe.
& # 39; They shuddered the control room and threw the telescope back at its zenith axis accelerations. & # 39;
Aldrin photographed that storm of the moon.
Fortunately the wind slowed down but the weather was still bad and the Parkes telescope worked far beyond the safety limits for the duration of the moon walk.
NASA network officer Ernie Randall said during the broadcast of the Apollo 11 TV: & Tell the Parkes people that their work was not in vain, they have given us the best TV so far. & # 39;
NASA & # 39; s Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station, now known as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (photo), also supported the Apollo 11 moon landing mission
The TV signals that Parkes received were sent to Sydney and then split. One was sent to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and one to Houston for the international broadcast.
& # 39; The international signal was supposed to travel halfway the world from Sydney to Houston, with a delay, & # 39; states the CSIRO.
& # 39; The Australian audience saw Neil Armstrong's historic first step 0.3 seconds before the rest of the world. & # 39;
There was too much work going on for a big party at the tracking stations. The first steps of Armstrong on the moon were received with cheers, but it was just that.
The scientists who worked at the tracking stations did not even have the best view of what happened on the moon.
Staffer Neil & # 39; Fox & # 39; Mason, who was at the control desk leading the Parkes telescope, could not turn around to view the incoming photos.
Instead, Mason had to keep a close eye on the telescope's tracking in case the weather deteriorated.
There was too much work going on for a big party at the tracking stations when man first walked on the moon. Neil Armstrong is pictured working on the Eagle moon module
David Cooke, receiver recipient among Parkes staff, recently told the Herald Sun that it was difficult to explain what it felt like to play a role in the mission.
& # 39; I saw Armstrong's photo come down the ladder and put his feet on the moon on that little green TV screen, & # 39; said the 87-year-old.
& # 39; After everything was over, I went outside and the moon was of course still above us.
& # 39; I was pretty surprised to think, well, there were men up there and we had been a part of helping them there. & # 39;
The Apollo 11 mission was only the last in Australia's involvement in space exploration in the United States.
The country has played a role in every deep space mission that NASA has undertaken.
The Parkes radio telescope continues to contribute to space exploration and remains one of the best facilities of its kind in the world.
Honeysuckle Creek was closed in 1981 and the original antenna was relocated to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla.
CSIRO manages and operates Tidbinbilla (photo), which is one of three tracking stations that form NASA's Deep Space Network. The other two are in California and near Madrid
There are now five working antennas at Canberra station: a 70-meter and four 34-meter radio dishes that communicate with vessels in space.
CSIRO manages and operates Tidbinbilla, one of the three tracking stations that form NASA's Deep Space Network.
The sister stations of Tidbinbilla are the facilities at Goldstone and another one near Madrid in Spain.
These three stations offer permanent contact with more than 30 spacecraft, including missions to study Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Pluto, the moon and the sun.
Tidbinbilla has been involved in hundreds of missions, except for Apollo flights, including the Skylab space station and early flights from the space shuttle.
It currently supports Mars missions, including the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, the Messenger spacecraft around Mercury and the New Horizons spacecraft traveling to Pluto and beyond.
A rare copy of restored images from the landing of Apollo 11, previously given by NASA to the CSIRO, was recently transferred to the National Film and Sound Archive.
The donated images are one of only three copies in the world and the only one preserved outside the US.
Australia has played a role in every deep space mission that NASA has been undertaking since 1957. The Parkes radio telescope (photo) remains one of the best facilities of its kind in the world
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