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One small stamp for man

Blog

One small stamp for man

Ian Kerr

This year marks 19 years since the release of The Dish. It’s also fifty years since man first landed on the Moon. Australia Post and the US Postal Service are both launching stamps (not into space, alas) to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing.

In case you’ve been living under a rock (or you’re one of those folks who think the Moon landings were faked), Neil Armstrong took man’s first steps on the Moon on 20 July 1969. Footage of the landing was beamed live to televisions around the world - and Australia’s role is celebrated in the Australia Post stamp issue.

The Parkes radio telescope radio telescope, located in central-west New South Wales, was one of two Australian stations to receive the signal from the Apollo 11 spacecraft when the Moon was hidden from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. Its role has been immortalised (with a fair amount of artistic licence) in the film The Dish. With a diameter of 64 metres, it’s one of the largest single-dish telescopes in the southern hemisphere dedicated to astronomy, as well as an unusual cricket pitch.

The first nine minutes of the Moon landing telecast, including the moments when Armstrong first set foot on the Moon, were transmitted from NASA’s Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, near Canberra. The 26 metre dish opened in 1967 for the purpose of supporting the Apollo program.

Australia Post’s stamps don’t just remind us of NASA’s Australian connection - there are also stamps featuring the first Moon walk and the lunar module Eagle.

Meanwhile in the USA, the US Postal Service is releasing two stamp designs commemorating the historic milestone. One stamp features Armstrong’s iconic photograph of Aldrin in his spacesuit on the surface of the Moon (yes, the same one used on Australia Post’s stamp). The other stamp shows the landing site of the lunar module, Eagle, in the Sea of Tranquility. The site is indicated on the stamp by a dot.

And now we must wait for the stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of Skylab crashing in the Australian desert. (Yes, Australia Post and the USPS have missed the boat for this month’s 40th anniversary…)

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