To Infinity and Beyond? How Australia Remembers the Apollo Missions
On July 21, 1969, Australian space tracking stations transmitted to the world the television images of Neil Armstrong’s first, tentative steps on the Moon. These tracking stations, located in NSW, the ACT, and WA, were important contributors to NASA’s global space tracking network during the Apollo Program. This thesis considers Australia’s cultural remembrance of the Apollo Program and the nation’s contribution to it. Since the conclusion of the Apollo Program in 1972, many misconceptions about the nature of Australia’s contribution have crept into representations of Australia’s role. While previous scholarship has identified some of these misconceptions, this thesis deploys a cultural historical framework to examine how these misconceptions have arisen and considers their function in Australia’s cultural remembrance of the Apollo Program. By examining how the international experience of Apollo was understood by Australians in a national context during the 1960s, this thesis provides a fresh analysis of Australians’ memories of the Apollo Program and of the Cold War alliance with the United States of America. Considering Australia’s participation in the Apollo Program as one expression of the Australia-America alliance, this thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the cultural and political dimensions of the diplomatic and military relationship that has framed Australian foreign policy since World War Two. By transmitting those grainy images of Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap” on the moon, Australia’s space tracking stations were taking a “small step” toward strengthening the nation’s security alliance.