Doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Gifting NASA footage of the Moon Landing to the National Film and Sound Archive and Australia’s space future.

In a doorstop at Parliament House Canberra, The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP held a doorstop with Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher.Karen Andrews: It’s great to be here with Minister Paul Fletcher and NASA’s representative Mr Badri Younes to talk about something that is so historic, which is the moon landing and of course Australia's great role in beaming that vision around the world. Now, right here today we have one of the three original NASA copies of their footage of man first walking on the moon. So many of us would have some fabulous memories of the moon landing and Neil Armstrong taking those first steps on the moon. Australia was so important in beaming those images around the world and what we have today is one of three original copies, the only one that is held outside the United States of that footage.

Now, before I officially hand that over to Paul Fletcher, I’d actually just like to say that the Morrison Government has understood the significance of the space industry. We have injected over $300 million to grow the space industry here in Australia. Currently, it's worth about $3.9 billion and employs about 10,000 people, and we are committed to growing that by 2030 to $12 billion for our economy and an additional 20,000 people. So whilst launch, and of course clearly the moonwalk is significant, there are so many things that came out of the Apollo program that we use in our daily lives and in some ways maybe take for granted 50 years later. So from the Apollo program came things such as advances in kidney dialysis, freeze drying of food, water filtration and of course some of the materials that are used by our firefighters even today.

So that's why the Morrison Government has injected over $300 million into the space industry. We will be looking at growing that over the coming years. We will also be looking at the things that can come from the space industry that we will again use in our daily lives, such as global positioning. We are looking at bringing our accuracy down to about 10 centimetres across Australia. It will be a closer accuracy- a smaller percentage down to about four to five centimetres in our metropolitan areas. And the reason that we're doing that is because we need to have those levels of accuracy as we move towards autonomous vehicles. So again it's a pleasure to be here today to formally present to Minister Fletcher the footage of the first steps on the moon. Minister Fletcher.

Paul Fletcher: Thank you very much, Karen. It's great to be here with you and Dr Younes from NASA. Can I acknowledge Jan Muller, who is the Chief Executive of the National Film and Sound Archive. When I have the pleasure of receiving this footage in a few moments it will be in my sweaty hands for only a second or two before I hand it into the skilled professional hands of Jan Muller.

The space race was an extraordinary symbol of technological innovation and the fact that it was broadcast around the world to 600 million people, the landing of Apollo 11 and the images from the moon, is a reminder of the extraordinary public interest at the time and since then. For a democracy like the United States, and certainly for a democracy like Australia, it's enormously important that the public are informed about these extraordinary projects and feel part of the journey. Therefore, it was vitally important to have those television images shared around the world, and the role of the Parkes Radio Telescope was absolutely critical because once moonrise occurred – the term I hadn't heard about until I began researching this issue – once moonrise occurred it meant that the signals coming from the moon could be received by that very large aperture dish and that produced higher quality resolution of TV signals than would otherwise have been possible. Of course, if you showed the resolution of that signal and those images today to a 14-year-old with an iPhone they wouldn't be very impressed. But in 1969, it was extraordinary technology and it's entirely appropriate that as we come to the fiftieth anniversary of that remarkable milestone in human technological achievement, the moon landing, it's entirely appropriate that, as part of that, we should be remembering the process by which those images were shared around the world.

So I'm certainly delighted to be here on behalf of the National Film and Sound Archives to be receiving these images, this footage, to become part of Australia's collection and we're very privileged that this is one of only three copies of this footage around the world.

Badri Younes: Well, good morning, excellencies. Thank you for having me first. It's an honour and a pleasure to be among you to celebrate that period in time where the kind of achievement we made couldn't have happened without the contribution of our friends and partners here in Australia. The contribution of the Parkes telescope as well as the Honeysuckle station made it possible to- for so many people around the world to see man's first footstep on the moon.

That contribution has continued for the past 50 years. We've had a great relationship with CSIRO and we are looking forward to establishing similar relationship with the Australian Space Agency. At this moment, the best way for us to celebrate this achievement is to renew our commitment for the future. To send men not only forward to the moon, but all the way beyond, to Mars and even beyond. For that purpose, NASA is working on the Artemis program. As you all know, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo. So it's very appropriate for us as she was the goddess of the moon in the Greek mythology. A lot of efforts are taking place, and we have made a decision to be on the moon by 2024. We'll be going there in stages, where we are going to be testing the kind of launch vehicle that never been built, you know, before. Something more powerful than the Saturn 5 that took Apollo to the moon. And we are building the kind of spacecraft that can be a good habitat for our astronaut as they crisscross the heavens.

Definitely our relationship with Australia will continue. We are working very hard to maintain that relationship with CSIRO. And also, I would like to congratulate Australia, and I've said that repeatedly it was about time for Australia to have its own space agency. Australia needs to carve itself a good wedge in the space, you know, the industry and economy, and there are a lot to be done. New technologies that can be infused into commercial application, the opportunity to create jobs and also to inspire new generation of young Australian engineers and scientists, and entrepreneurs. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership. We'll be working with Dr Clarke and her folks. Her deputy, Anthony Murfett, as well as we continue to work with CSIRO to ensure that our partnership will continue in the area of technology and the exploration of space.

Thank you for having me. And it's my honour to hand you over this copy of the footage.

Question: I was just wondering where this footage has been held until now and if there's any sort of sense of what the archive is going to be doing with it exactly?

Karen Andrews: Okay, so my understanding of the background to the film is that it was held at Parkes, it was rediscovered a number of years ago. It's been digitally remastered so it’s in better shape than what it was. So it now it is one of the three original copies, so it came from Parkes.

Paul Fletcher: And if I can just add to that, certainly the intention is that the National Film and Sound Archive will work to make access to digitised versions of this available to anybody who’s interested. If I can pick up on a point that Minister Andrews made, because this comes from what was received at the satellite rather than what was subsequently broadcast around the world, it’s higher resolution and higher quality because it was at a very early point in the journey. So we're able to preserve and then share a higher resolution set of images than was seen by people looking at contemporary television services.

Question: Are there any plans in the works for collaboration between NASA and Australia's new space agency? For instance, will Australia's space agency help out with this 2024 moon mission?

Karen Andrews: Australia is absolutely committed to building the space industry here in Australia. We have a long standing relationship with NASA, some 50, 60 years of standing. We are committed to continuing to work with NASA to collaborate, to look at opportunities. I'm not going to rule out anything at this point in time. I'm very open to having further discussions with NASA about opportunities for NASA in Australia to continue to work closely together, and increase our collaboration in the future.

Question: And perhaps a question for Mr. Younes? What do you think our space agency should do over the next five or 10 years to make itself one of the world leading space agencies?

Badri Younes: Well definitely, we really need to set the right expectation. It's a very young agency. It needs the support of everyone to put the right plans together and the roadmap. It needs to work on inspiring the youths and also the industry to join in our venture towards space, and also to build the kind of relationship that will help the agency to grow a little bit faster and collaborated with other agencies. NASA has had a long, you know, strong relationship with Australia in general, in particular with CSIRO, and we had- I had a meeting with Dr Clark yesterday and we talked about the possible options on collaborating and collaboration in space in general. And we will be pursuing some, you know, some meetings in the future to identify possible options where we can collaborate on technology. Definitely, it's going to take the commitment of the Australian Government, the Australian industry to help Dr Clarke and the agency to move forward and to grow and they need definitely plenty of additional resources.

Question: May I ask what some of those options were for collaboration?

Badri Younes: Yeah. Within my area of responsibility, we've talked about the number of technology initiatives that will include optical and possibly quantum. In addition to that, our relationship has continued with CSIRO on, you know, in the area of deep space communication and CSIRO – [indistinct] - the station manager from CSIRO and CSIRO is presently managing and operating the Tidbinbilla Station.

So they have been participating and finding technical solutions to some real issues and problems and they are working with us to improve the quality of our service to our deep space missions. So the relationship has never stopped and I know, you know, other areas in NASA, other elements of NASA have been working CSIRO also on a number of other initiatives. It took some time to create this agency. Now that we have the agency, we really need to help it to grow and to be an inspirational entity that can motivate people and industry to pursue opportunities in space.

The space - space is a good domain for investment and the new space economy is growing and hopefully Australia will carve a good wedge for itself within this economy.

Question: Just on that element of inspiration, the moon landing was obviously a really major event that sparked a lot of imaginations and you were speaking there about sort of how we are working towards Mars now. When do you think we will have that next event where we’re all gathered around the screen with our bated breath?

Badri Younes: Well, we are going to take it a step at a time. First, we are going to the moon to have the moon to be a staging ground for our deep space exploration. We have a number of technology, technology that has evolved over the past 50 years building on our experience, you know, of the Apollo era all the way to the International Space Station. We are building the kind of habitat, we are building the kind of technology that can reuse resources on the ground, you know, to provide enough fuel [indistinct] combustible for our launch vehicles.

The issue of Mars is not getting to Mars; it’s being able to bring our astronauts back because we are already on Mars. We have a number of robotic missions that have been working there for quite some time. Our ability to, you know, to send humans is driven by having to bring them back. It's going to be a long journey because, you know, the journey first to get to Mars is going to take about six months and then sometime you need to spend over there on Mars and you have to wait until Mars is getting closer and, you know, in close proximity to Earth to send them back. It’s a three-year journey. It’s a long time for human beings to survive alone and you need to sustain their, you know, to sustain their survival during that period of time.

And so we are building the kind of conditions that enabled them to have the same quality of life, a very comfortable journey and also a safe return. So I expect the return to Mars would happen in the next decade - the following decade, you know. But for now, our objective is the moon and we are building the kind of gateway that will be a launch pad for activities on the surface of the moon and hopefully will be the launch pad toward deep space.