Moon landing 50th anniversary: a joint initiative with CSIRO

ATTENTION: CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope around the time of the 1969 Moon landing. A change of plan meant the Australian stations became the primary point of contact for the moonwalk. Picture: CSIRO

ATTENTION: CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope around the time of the 1969 Moon landing. A change of plan meant the Australian stations became the primary point of contact for the moonwalk. Picture: CSIRO

The tracking stations needed to keep in touch with the command module orbiting the Moon, the lunar module going down to the surface, and then the astronauts as they roamed outside.

As the Earth turned, different tracking stations around the world would see the Moon at different times.

Originally NASA's 64-metre dish at Goldstone in California was to cover the moonwalk, with CSIRO's Parkes telescope being a backup.

The astronauts were to go outside soon after they landed, well before the Moon rose at Parkes.

Parkes would step in only if the moonwalk was delayed and the Moon had set at Goldstone.

Two months before Apollo 11 launched there was a change of plan.

The astronauts were now scheduled to rest for a few hours after they landed, and give the lunar module's fluids and systems time to stabilise after the landing.

It also meant the moonwalk would start when the Moon had set at Goldstone but was well up for Australia.

The Australian stations were now in the hot seat.

Honeysuckle Creek would coordinate all Australian tracking, and it and Tidbinbilla would track the command and lunar modules, while Parkes was set to receive the TV signals.

Honeysuckle too would be able to receive TV and a new link was installed between Honeysuckle and Canberra for carrying TV pictures.

NASA signed off the mission's 350-page flight plan on July 1, 1969.