On July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person in history to set foot on the surface of the moon. It’s one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and holds a special place in the heart of every American—but we didn’t do it alone!
In order to receive telemetry and communications from the Apollo 11 crew, we turned to our friends in Australia for help. After all, at the estimated time of the landing, the moon would be positioned over Australia, not the United States, meaning communications would be better received there.
For the mission, three tracking stations were set up. One in California, and two in Australia: the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station and CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope. Honeysuckle is where the first images of a man on the moon were seen, but Parkes had the clearest images, and so was used for almost the entirety of the broadcast.
Images were sent to Sydney, and from there they traveled to both Mission Control in Houston and directly into Australian homes. Since anyone living outside of Australia saw the footage via Houston, and it took slightly longer for the footage to travel halfway around the globe than it did to travel into local television sets, the first audience to see the historic “one small step” was Australian!