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When the historic words of Apollo 11 member Neil Armstrog came out 50 years ago: “It is a small step for man, a great leap for humanity.” few of the 600 million people on Earth do not know that they heard these words thanks to a small island in the Atlantic Ocean. It was Gran Canaria that allowed more than 600 million people in the world to observe the arrival of man on the moon.

50 years of Apollo 11
Old newspaper article.

“Houston, this is the Base of Tranquility. The Eagle has landed! ” These words after landing the module on the Moon, as well as the legendary words mentioned above when climbing the Moon, the first satellite station to receive these words was in Maspalomas, in the south of Gran Canaria. It was here that US scientists decided to build a satellite station in the 1960s with space programs. Many tourists, when looking at satellites from the lighthouse in Maspalomas, have no idea what significant role they have played in human history.

50 years of Apollo 11
Satellite, which makes the connection place with Apollo 11’s crew

Earth’s first contact with the moon

The Maspalomas satellite picked up the signal first. Despite minor glitches and worsening weather conditions, the black and white shots of the first man’s walk on the Moon’s surface were out of focus and watched by more than 600 million people. Television signals from the Moon were later captured by the Goldstone observatories in the US and Honeysuckle Creek in Australia.

50 years of Apollo 11
One of the components of the transmitters as a gift from the Apollo 11 crew for the Maspalomas Oasis hotel.

Neil Armstrong descended the lunar ladder on July 21, 1969 at 2:56 UTC and was the first man in history to set foot on the surface of the Moon. As mentioned by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in its materials, Armstrong’s voice from the Moon went directly to Maspalomas, beyond the telephone line to Las Palmas, from there via a short wave transmission to England, from the British Isles to the US with an undersea cable. followed by a short broadcast to Houston.

At the top of the Montaña Blanca

50 years of Apollo 11
Satellite Center at the top of the Montaña Blanca

The station was originally built for NASA Mercury. In the years 1960-1975, the station provided the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, and Skylab programs. The station is operated by INTA (National Institute of Aerospace Technology) in cooperation with ISA (Aerospace Engineering and Services) for ESA (European Space Agency). The station is dominated by a 15-meter antenna that allows the reception of signals in the S and X bands and the transmission in the S band. Located on the top of Montaña Blanca above Pasito Blanco. The location of the antenna is also justified. The antenna coordinates are + 27 ° 45’46.40 “, -35 ° 38’01.68” at 205.1 meters above sea level, which corresponds to the reference ellipsoid WGS-84, which is a reference value of the geoid of the Mathematically defined earth.

Apollo 11 crew in Gran Canaria

50 years of Apollo 11
Neil Armstrong together with Alejandro del Castillo y del Castillo, VIII. Count of the Vega Grande de Guadalupe.

The fact that Gran Canaria mediated the union of the crew with Earth was also reflected in the continuation of the lives of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. During her world tour in October 1969, Gran Canaria was the first place outside the United States to visit. Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins and their families were staying at the newly opened Maspalomas Oasis Hotel, now RIU Palace Oasis. During their stay, their host was the owner of the hotel, Alejandro del Castillo y del Castillo, VIII. Count de la Vega Grande de Guadalupe with his children.

50 years of Apollo 11
One of the social evenings in Maspalomas Oasis.

In addition to the official program, the crew had the opportunity to get to know the island and its traditions during many trips and events. Social nights with local artists, boat trips, visit to GuiGui beach, ride through the dunes of Maspalomas on camels. This is just a small part of the program they have completed. The fact that they liked Gran Canaria is evidenced in the words of Neil Armstrong, who answered the journalists’ question: “What did it feel like to walk on the moon?” Neil Armstrong responded: “It was an incredible experience. The moon is a wonderful place like Maspalomas. Like all of Gran Canaria ”.

50 years of Apollo 11
The Apollo 11 crew on an excursion to the dunes of Maspalomas.

Thank you

I would like to thank you for the photos of the Condé de Vega Grande de Guadalupe, IMACO89 imagen & Comunicación S.L. and RIU hotels & resorts, to which I also thank the opportunity to access the hotel chronicle and the Apollo 11 donation.

Did you like this article, was it useful to you? You can also support the creation of this website by sending any amount to ES08 0049 5735 1122 1616 5370, swift BSCHESMM. Include “Canaria Guide Support” in the note. Thank you for supporting.

50 years of Apollo 11
Writing in the Hotel Maspalomas Oasis Chronicle.

Martin Smolen

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Life with the sun in the heart.

“We are incredibly proud to be Canaries,” Alfredo, the owner of a small restaurant in Playa del Inglés, once told me when I was visited Gran Canaria. “There are the most beautiful beaches with the most beautiful sand with the most incredible waves. On the shore are the most beautiful hotels, promenades and cafes. The island is home to the most hospitable people. Grow the tastiest tomatoes, the sweetest bananas, the most fragrant roses. We will make the best wines here and the cuisine is also the best.”

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