News

Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40



15 July 2009

It's been 40 years since the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took that "one small step" to become the first human to set foot on another world. An exhibition at the University of Sydney, Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40, commemorates this significant anniversary.

To be launched on 20 July 2009, Small Step, Giant Leap will celebrate the "giant leap for Mankind" that occurred in July 1969. This free exhibition will explore the story of the Apollo lunar program and highlight some University of Sydney connections.

Artefacts on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, USA, as well as contemporary space memorabilia from the Powerhouse Museum's collection, help tell the story of Apollo 11's historic lunar landing.

'Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40' opens on 20 July 2009 and runs until 10 September 2009, in the University of Sydney's SciTech Library.
'Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40' opens on 20 July 2009 and runs until 10 September 2009, in the University of Sydney's SciTech Library.

Sponsored by the University of Sydney's US Studies Centre and the NSW Office for Science and Medical Research, Small Step, Giant Leap was curated by Kerrie Dougherty, Curator of Space Technology at the Powerhouse Museum.

"The Apollo 11 Moon landing was one of the most significant scientific and technological events of the twentieth century. Our small exhibition provides a snapshot of the space program at this point in the 1960s and highlights some links between the University of Sydney's School of Physics and Science Foundation for Physics and the US space program," said Kerrie.

Included in the exhibition are three lunar tools used by NASA for training during the 1960s: a trenching tool, a hammer and a scale. These were all designed for collecting rock samples in lunar gravity and incorporate design features that make their use easier for astronauts wearing spacesuits.

"The design of these lunar tools is based on Earth tools, but they display special features, such as a thick handle with a rough grip on the hammer, to make it easier to use while wearing a spacesuit. The scale for weighing rock samples has been calibrated to function in lunar gravity," explained Kerrie.

"There was a tremendous public excitement about the US space program in the 1960s. As part of this public engagement with the space program, NASA engineers, scientists and astronauts visited many countries. The University of Sydney's International Science School, run by the Science Foundation for Physics, attracted some very big names in the space program to present lectures to the students," said Kerrie.

"In 1962, Wernher von Braun, Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre and chief engineer for the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo on its historic flight to the moon, visited the University of Sydney's International Science School," said Kerrie.

"He was the first of several significant space program participants who would lecture to International Science School students in the 60s and 70s. Others included George Mueller, Associate Administrator of NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight which managed the Apollo program, who lectured in 1967 and 1970, and astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, and Gordon Cooper, who both visited in 1968 to speak to the students."

"It's very significant that the International Science School attracted these famous space personalities to Sydney at the height of their fame - it shows how prestigious the school was and still is," explained Kerrie.

The exhibition includes a Saturn V model gifted to the International Science School at this time, as well as a selection of small celebratory items from the Powerhouse Museum's E.A. and V.I. Crome Collection such as stamps, first day covers, postcards, pins and medallions.

"We have some wonderful items commemorating Apollo 11 that are part of the larger collection of space memorabilia amassed by the late Mr. Ernie Crome, as well as other examples of contemporary space memorabilia donated by other benefactors. Of particular interest is a first day cover to honour the Sydney visit of the Apollo 11 crew in November 1969 and a piece of notepaper autographed by the Apollo 11 crew at one of their state dinners."

The Apollo 11 lunar landing, and the program that made it possible, inspired the best and brightest students to seek out careers in the exciting fields of space exploration, astronomy and aeronautical engineering.

Two graduates of the University of Sydney's School of Physics had a particular involvement in the Apollo program: space physicist Dr Brian O'Brien was the principal investigator for the Dust Detector Experiment carried on Apollo 11-14, and Dr Phillip Chapman became the first ever Australian-born American astronaut. In 1967, Dr Chapman was selected as one of NASA's first scientist astronauts, but he never made it to the moon due to the curtailment of the Apollo program.

To further mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Sleek Geeks Dr Karl and Adam Spencer will deliver a special presentation to tackle the myths surrounding the first landing on the moon at 6pm on 20 July 2009.

Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40 opens on 20 July 2009 and runs until 10 September 2009, in the University of Sydney's SciTech Library.


Exhibition details:

Small Step, Giant Leap: Celebrating Apollo at 40
Dates: 20 July - 10 September 2009
Location: SciTech Library, University of Sydney
Cost: Free
Contact: Faculty of Science
Phone: 02 9351 3021
Email: info@science.usyd.edu.au


Contact: Faculty of Science

Phone: 02 9351 3021

Email: 28081328041f16221d5d06046c1a010d2956574b05160407