CAREER LAUNCHER: Robert Garland with his copy of the front page of  The Courier Mail  from the day after the landing.
CAREER LAUNCHER: Robert Garland with his copy of the front page of The Courier Mail from the day after the landing. Alistair Brightman

HISTORIC: Remembering the magic of the Moon landing

WATCHING the Moon landing when he was a child led to a lifelong love affair with science for Hervey Bay's Robert Garland.

He was 12 when he was sent home from school to watch the historic moment on television, sitting with his family as they marvelled at a man's first steps on the moon and Neil Armstrong's memorable words: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

It was July 20, 1969, and the television was restricted to black and white, but that didn't make the images any less captivating.

While other boys dreamed of driving trucks or trains, Mr Garland wanted to be an astronaut.

That didn't end up happening, but his fascination with science never dimmed.

He loved science fiction too, imagining faraway worlds and space adventures.

Mr Garland completed a degree in science, majoring in chemistry.

In the United States, three days before the moon launch about a million people lined the beaches and roads around the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

There were hippies with long hair and there were squares. Men in suits and uniforms, well-coiffured women in big sunglasses.

They were all there to see the Saturn V rocket take off with Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on board.

The engines fired on the 110m tall rocket, creating plumes of smoke and a roar.

At 9.32am it took off from Earth and 12 minutes later it was in orbit.

The rocket dropped two stages, their fuel used up, leaving the Apollo spacecraft to go on.

Now it was made of the third stage, the command module and the lunar module.

It orbited Earth one and a half times before they used the next stage of the rocket to propel it towards the Moon.

On July 20, the moment arrived - Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

On July 24, 1969 the three splashed into the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii at 12.50pm.