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21 July 2019 Speech

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I would also like to begin by acknowledging the Wiradjuri people as the Traditional Owners of the land that we're meeting on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past and present.

Good Afternoon

Thank you all for being here today, especially our distinguished guests, Deputy Prime Minister – Hon Michael McCormack, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology – the Hon Karen Andrews and Ambassador Culvahouse.

Today marks an incredible occasion, 50 years since the Apollo 11 Moon landing. I can still recall sitting cross legged on the wooden floor of Seaforth infants school watching this moment on a tiny black and white telly with a few hundred of my closest friends.

I had no idea at that time of the ingenuity and collaboration behind the Apollo program. Nor how Australia played such an important role in sending TV images to 600 million people around the world. I don't think there has ever been anything quite like this mission, which brought the entire world together in one incredible moment. A moment that would go on to inspire future generations to push space exploration into unimaginable territory.

Witnessing this "giant leap" was made possible by our Australian teams at NASA's Honeysuckle Creek tracking station near Canberra and here at CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope. I would like to say a special hello to David Cooke and Ben Lam - our radio engineer and site electrician who both worked here back on that day in 1969. It's great to have you both with us here today.

Armstrong called the Apollo 11 mission "a beginning of a new age" …but right now feels like a new beginning again; with NASA's call to return to the Moon and the creation of Australian Space Agency to inspire the next generation of children to make the impossible possible. The opportunities that lay before us are as unlimited as space itself.

For me, back in that tiny classroom, watching the Moon landing as a kid, gave me inspiration to study physics, not just science, but the science of how the universe works.

It wasn't just the final steps, but the whole journey - watching them build the rocket, test it, move it to Cape Canaveral – it was by far the greatest show on Earth.

It was in that moment I believed anything was possible. But belief became reality when I learned that CSIRO's journey to the moon actually started 30y earlier when Australia needed us to create radar to defend Darwin during the war. Radar led to us creating Australia's 1st computer, then the dish, and then WiFi.

It's now time to turn our attention to a much bigger screen, to watch the broadcast as it happened in 1969, this time with hundreds of new friends.

Learn more about CSIRO's role in Apollo 11.


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