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Monday, July 20, 2009

Official 40th anniversary of lunar landing

Forty years ago today, astronaut Neil Armstrong did something no one had ever done before. On July 20, 1969, he set foot on the moon. People around the world watched and listened as Neil slowly climbed down the ladder of the lunar lander. Then, he stepped on the moon's surface where he could look up and see Earth far above him. There he said these well-known words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

A British engineer, Gary Peach, now 73, who was working at a space tracking facility near Canberra during the 1969 moon landings claims to have created that famous "one small step" line. Mr Peach says he came up with the phrase because he was worried man's first step on the moon would not be marked with suitable words. He says he passed it on to one of the managers. "He said 'Oh, hmm, we hadn't thought of that', and hurried off to the control room and I assume he [sent] that to the States, there was just time to brief the crew." But the Director of Tidbinbilla Station in 1969, Don Gray, says while he remembers Mr Peach he does not believe his story. "I just don't understand it. I do not understand why someone waits 40 years to make such a claim and nobody I know in the whole of the tracking industry in Australia has ever heard it before to my knowledge," he said.

A lot less known is the fact that the Germans - who else? - landed on the moon well before the Americans. Watch the clip! My money is on the Germans. I think their first words were, "Woof-woof."