Apollo legends tour UNSW Canberra Space on International Space Day


Apollo Astronaut Charlie Duke and Mission Control Flight Director Gerry Griffin toured UNSW Canberra Space on May the 4th – International Space Day.

 The Apollo legends and Canberra team shared their accomplishments, from the 48-tonne Apollo 16 spacecraft that launched Duke into space, right through to the university’s shoebox-sized satellite that is currently orbiting the earth.

 The UNSW Canberra Space team marvelled at Duke and Griffin’s recollection of the Apollo missions, while the Apollo team had plenty of questions about UNSW Canberra’s small satellites and $10 million project with the Royal Australian Air Force.

 Duke and Griffin were in Canberra to promote the national tour of their production Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo.

 They were welcomed by UNSW Canberra on Thursday at an intimate Q&A event with Australian Astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith.

 They arrived on the day it was reported that $50 million in seed funding would be allocated to set up the Australian Space Agency in the federal budget. The news was welcomed by Duke and Griffin.

 “The door is open and Australia has a long history in space activity,” Griffin says.

 “You don’t have to start with a huge grandiose program.”

 Griffin says universities were integral to the space sector and UNSW Canberra could play a key role in shaping the national agency.

 “The [Apollo] space program had three legs supporting it – government, industry and universities,” Griffin says.

 “It was the universities that helped us get out of a pickle many times.”

 Duke and Griffin will appear live on stage at the Saturday screening on Mission Control, along with Professor Harvey-Smith, and they have plenty of stories to tell about their time with Apollo.

 “I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the moon,” Duke says.

 “It never feels like a dream to me, but it feels overwhelming sometimes to think of it.”

 While the Apollo missions broke new ground in space, on earth they were helping the US through a difficult time in history.

 “Vietnam was splitting the country apart, but Apollo was pulling us together,” Griffin says.