August 21st, 2021

Book 38 - 2019

Book 38: Honeysuckle Creek: The Story of Tom Reid, A Little Dish and Neil Armstrong’s First Step by Andrew Tink - 255 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Honeysuckle Creek reveals the pivotal role that the tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek, near Canberra, played in the first moon landing. Andrew Tink gives a gripping account of the role of its director Tom Reid and his colleagues in transmitting some of the most-watched images in human history as Neil Armstrong took his first step.

Part biography and part personal history, this book makes a significant contribution to Australia's role in space exploration and reveals a story little known until now.

As Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr, the director of flight operations for Apollo 11, acknowledged: 'The name Honeysuckle Creek and the excellence which is implied by that name will always be remembered and recorded in the annals of manned space flight'.


Thoughts:
I so wanted to love this book more than I did! Honeysuckle Creek was a tracking station in Canberra, Australia, in the 60s during the Apollo mission, supporting the Apollo program along with radio telescopes in Goldstone, California and Madrid, Spain. Honeysuckle Creek was actually the radio telescope responsible for relaying the first images of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, after a problem at Goldstone meant their images weren't good enough. Honeysuckle relayed the first 8 minutes of images, before Parkes Radio Telescope, in Parkes, New South Wales, Australia took over (it's much bigger). The story of Parkes was immortalised in one of the best Australian movies ever made, The Dish, which loosely implied that Parkes relayed those first few minutes. The author of this book knew the director of Honeysuckle Creek and decided to set the story straight. I thought this would be interesting enough, given my love of all things space, but what I wasn't expecting was for this book to spend most of its pages focusing on the life of that director, Tom Reid. Tom was undoubtedly a great man, but the book spent far more time talking about Tom than it did about Honeysuckle Creek, Apollo, or space tracking. The last fifty pages are by far the best, as it covers the actual walk on the moon, and the pace picks up (the first 200 pages feels like it says the same thing over and over). Tink's writing style also struck me as needing finesse. This probably could have been a chapter within a broader book, or an editorial or academic paper - there's just not enough story for a book. A shame.


38 / 50 books. 76% done!


10666 / 15000 pages. 71% done!

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