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Did you know? The Apollo missions

This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon with a few little known facts of the Apollo missions. Where were you when the “one small step for man” was taken?

Australia played an important role in the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing with the Parkes telescope - “The Dish” - broadcasting to the world the first pictures of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the Moon.

One of the experiments left on the Moon from Apollo 11 is still in operation. The Lunar Laser Ranging Retroreflector measures the distance between the surfaces of the Earth and Moon using laser ranging. Seen below (l to R) the Retroreflectors left by Apollo 11, 14 and 15 (credit NASA).

Lunar ranging reflectors (credit NASA)

When Apollo 11 touched down it had only 25 seconds of fuel left !

The first meal eaten on the Moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin consisted of bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, pineapple grapefruit drink, and coffee.

The Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions was so powerful spectators had to watch it take off from 5 kilometres away. It shook the windows in nearby buildings and had a noise level of around 204 decibels (140 decibels can cause hearing loss).

Memorable quotes from the Moon … and on the way to the Moon

“Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”

Neil Armstrong. Apollo 11. Touchdown and first humans on the Moon.

“That may have been a small one (step) for Neil, but that's a long one for me”.

Pete Conrad. Commander Apollo 12. Pete Conrad was short in stature and was playfully paraphrasing Neil Armstrong’s famous words.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem”

Jack Swigert. Command Module Pilot. Apollo 13. Apollo 13 suffered an explosion two days into the mission and did not land on the Moon. After four harrowing days the crew made it safely back to Earth.

“Let’s get this mother out of here”.

Gene Cernan. Commander Apollo 17. Last person, and mission, on the Moon. Reportedly the last words ever spoken from the Moon as they lifted off from the surface.

The Apollo missions left a lot of objects on the Moon. Apart from the famous Apollo 11 plaque stating “We came in peace for all mankind” also up there are the descent stages of the lunar modules, six American flags, three Lunar Roving Vehicles, a photo of Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke and his family ……. and two golf balls !!. These were hit by Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard who was an avid golf player.

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