In July 1969, the United States won its biggest victory in the Cold War’s Space Race, but it did not do so alone. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, supported by Michael Collins, became the first men ever to set foot on the surface of the moon. The achievement turned the Space Race on its head following the Soviet Union’s launch of the first ever satellite and success in putting the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. The mission was a success, not merely because it took place, but because it was broadcast around the world to over 600 million viewers. That was made possible by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which is Australia’s National Science Research Agency.
John Bolton, the Director of Parkes Observatory, which was operated by CSIRO, entered into a one-line contract with NASA. It read, “The Radiophysics Division would agree to support the Apollo 11 mission." The initial broadcast came from Honeysuckle Creek, which transmitted nearly nine minutes. Then, NASA decided to switch to the Parkes feed, which was clearer. Despite winds that threatened the structure of the telescope shortly before the broadcast, the telescope held out and the observatory’s team played a vital role in making it possible for a fifth of the world’s population to watch the events unfold.
On this 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the country that broadcast the event to the world is sharing in the celebration with the release of five coins minted by the iconic Perth Mint. These include a bullion and proof 1 oz. silver coin, a bullion and proof 1 oz. Gold version, as well as a High Relief 5 oz. Proof silver issue. All of the coins share a common design by Lucas Bowers. It consists of a footprint on the lunar surface near the Lunar Module. The inscription “MOON LANDING 1969-2019” arches over the image along the rim. The coins would make for a perfect collection for those interested in space exploration, especially if combined with one or more of the U.S Mint’s issues that mark the occasion. For collectors, even one of these pieces would be an important reminder of an American ally’s role in the historic event.
The Apollo 11 mission changed history. Science, exploration, technology, and geopolitics changed that day as Neil Armstrong took “one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” America’s victory in the race to the moon was important, but so too was the fact that it was broadcast to the entire planet as a victory for the free world. The global fascination with the landing and the psychological impact that it made for American citizens and those yearning for freedom around the world were only made possible thanks to the help of one of the country’s most important allies. Fortunately, issues by the Perth Mint are making it possible for collectors to have some physical reminders of Australia’s essential, though often overlooked, role in this historic event.
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||Sean McConeghy is a freelance writer and network marketer living in Roatan, Honduras. He originally hails from New York and specializes in writing about numismatics, real estate, and politics.|