Canberra’s space heritage on show during Moon landing anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing is the perfect time for Canberrans to get to events and immerse themselves in the rich space history of our region.

On 21 July 1969 AEST, an estimated 600 million people around the world watched Neil Armstrong take a small step on to the Moon.

Less than a minute before that historic moment, NASA switched over the live broadcast feed from Goldstone in the USA to the higher quality feed from Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

The images of Neil Armstrong’s extraordinary first steps and his immortal words were broadcast from right here in the ACT.

The station was heavily involved in the following Apollo missions and later helped provided vital data tracking spacecrafts in deep space. The station supported Voyager 1 and 2’s journeys through our outer solar system along with Pioneer 12’s trip to Venus.

In 1981, the station closed and the antenna was relocated to Tidbinbilla where it still stands today as a monument to our tremendous efforts.

Australia has continued to play an important role in the global space sector and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla helps track the Mars Rovers, the Hubble telescope, and dozens of other spacecraft.

Canberrans can celebrate ACT’s role in space exploration at a range of upcoming exhibits and events:

  • Learn about the role the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station

    The ACT Government commissioned new signage and facilities to be unveiled this weekend. Everybody can experience these new installations from Saturday afternoon including a ‘star lounge’ for visitors to lay back and look at the stars, signage about the cultural connection between Ngunnawal people and the stars, and signage that links Canberra’s three space sites with engaging walking trails.

  • Experience Canberra Moon Week’ with a deep-dive into all things space related

    From 17-20 July, the ACT Government has partnered with the ANU to deliver a suite of activities and events to commemorate the Apollo 11 missions including public panels with former Australian astronaut Dr Andrew Thomas, stargazing at Mount Stromlo, meteorite displays, public lectures and talks, fireside chats with local Ngunnawal Elder Wally Bell, guided bus tours of Canberras space and Moon sites and a number of different art and science exhibitions.

  • Gain first-hand insight with activities organised by The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Committee.

    From 18-21 July, the ACT Government is supporting a range of receptions, talks, plaque unveilings, photo opportunities, and a celebration lunch. The committee is a group comprised of ex-employees of the tracking station and the manager of the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

Commemorations have also extended throughout 2019. The annual Canberra and Region Heritage Festival adopted the theme of Space earlier in the year, and Lights!Canberra!Action! as part of 2019 Enlighten Festival was themed ‘One Small Step’. This year’s Floriade will include programming and entertainment celebrating the moon landing.

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