Les Fellows from Tanilba Bay was part of making history in the Lunar Landing

Les with his Apollo 11 certificate of appreciation.


MOST people over the age of 60 will remember exactly where they were when the first man walked on the moon.

It was an event which stopped the world as grainy TV footage was relayed around the planet.

Les Fellows from Tanilba Bay knows exactly where he was on the momentous day as he was one of the small team of Aussies who made the lunar link-up possible.

With the 50th anniversary of the event, the media is reliving the epic voyage and Les gives us the inside story.

“I was one of the permanent team manning the radio telescope at Parkes,” he said.

“There was no line of sight to NASA as they were blindsided by the Earth’s rotation so they asked us to help,” he added.

“We broke every rule in the book,” Les said.

“Despite a howling gale, our director, John Bolton, instructed us to tilt the dish ’till it actually touched the ground to pick up the signal,” he said.

“This was then relayed around the world.”

For their efforts, the Aussie team was rewarded with certificates of appreciation by NASA.

Just four Aussies were on duty in 1970 at Parkes when a fire on board the ill fated Apollo 13 mission saw a desperate cry for help go out. ‘Houston, we have a problem,’ is a phrase still used today and was first spoken by astronaut James Lovell during this drama.

Once again, the dedicated team at Parkes was able to connect the stricken craft to mission control, a feat which undoubtedly saved their lives.

The vital role played by Les and the three other staff that day was forgotten until many years later when NASA officials presented them with medals made from the original launching platform.

Both missions were turned into movies.

An Apollo 11 film has just been released following ‘The Dish’ (2000) an Aussie classic starring Sam Neil.

Tom Hanks played the lead role in the Apollo 13 film (1995).

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