Footage from 1969, 1989 and 1999

BY ADAM BLACKSHAW

We are marking the 50th anniversary of the July 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing by sharing these clips, including footage from the NFSA 'Newscaf' News and Current Affairs collection.

It was US President John F Kennedy who, in 1961, first announced that the goal for NASA was to send people to the Moon before the decade was out. And so on 16 July 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.

Four days later around 650 million people watched as Armstrong said perhaps the most famous words of the 20th century, ‘One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind’:

Pre-flight press conference

The Apollo 11 crew participated in a number of press conferences before the launch. In this clip Buzz Aldrin, with Armstong seated to his right and Collins to his left, talks about the three things the astronauts will leave behind on the lunar surface:

The footage captures a remarkably calm trio in the face of their significant mission. There is a sense of deep respect and almost hushed reverence from the assembled media. Apart from the occasional quip from the crew during this conference to break the tension, this clip illustrates the enormity of the task ahead and the seriousness with which they approached it.

Apollo 11 – 20th Anniversary

Twenty years after the Apollo 11 mission, this news segment recalls the crucial role that the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, just outside Canberra, played in beaming live images of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the lunar surface on 21 July 1969:

This Capital Television news item utilises some wonderful archival footage of the launch and the operations of Honeysuckle Creek itself. Then station director Tom Reid is interviewed and it's surprising to hear him give such a laconic reflection of what was a major international event. The images of the defunct and neglected tracking station seem to illustrate Reid’s lament about no longer living in a ‘can-do’ era.

Apollo 11 – 30th Anniversary

The year before the start of the new millennium saw commemorations for the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The three crew members, now men in their late 60s, received fresh honours from then US Vice President Al Gore in recognition of their achievement:

This NBN news segment is a concise piece of media showing a clearly emotional Neil Armstrong accepting the honours on behalf of the crew. The archival footage is used sparingly but never ceases to lose its power. It’s interesting to hear Buzz Aldrin comment on how they dealt with fear on the mission. The comment that it had been 27 years since a spacecraft took humans to the Moon is a reference to Apollo 17, which launched on 7 December 1972.

See details of our Moon Landing: 50 Years events and screenings in Canberra on 19 and 20 July 2019.