SPACE MAD: Nine-year-old William Hartley has been re-enacting the 1969 first man to the moon mission with his purpose-built Lego Saturn V rocket, complete with  Eagle  moon lander.
SPACE MAD: Nine-year-old William Hartley has been re-enacting the 1969 first man to the moon mission with his purpose-built Lego Saturn V rocket, complete with Eagle moon lander. Tim Howard

50th anniversary of Apollo moon landing re-enacted in Lego

EVEN though it happened more than 40 years before he was born, there's not much Grafton's William Hartley can't tell you about the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing which put US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, Will and his father, Brad, have gone to extraordinary lengths to re-enact the launch.

Last Monday they built a scale Lego model of the Saturn V rocket that powered the moon flight, complete with command module Columbia, the lunar lander Eagle and three tiny astronaut figures representing the crew of Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins.

There were 1969 pieces of Lego in the kit and this was no coincidence.

Will's plan has been to re-enact each stage of the mission with his scaled model.

 

LAUNCH TIME: William Hartley points his Lego Saturn V rocket toward the moon to coincide with 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 moon mission.
LAUNCH TIME: William Hartley points his Lego Saturn V rocket toward the moon to coincide with 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 moon mission.

This meant on a cold night on Tuesday in Grafton Will took his Lego Saturn V outside and aimed it at the moon.

Eight and a half minutes later he had removed the third and second stages of the ascent to represent the time it took the rocket to burn through the millions of litres of kerosene and liquid oxygen that powered the rocket out of Earth's gravity into an orbit of the planet.

The real time re-enactment will continue at the Hartley household through the moon landing, the take-off from the moon after more than 21 hours on the lunar surface, the capsule docking with Columbia and the return and splash down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24.

Will's interest in space is no fad.

"For the past two years we've travelled around visiting every radio telescope," mother Kathryn said.

"We've been to Honeysuckle Creek, Mt Stromlo, Parkes, Uluru for the Hubble telescope. It's been two years of driving around looking at telescopes."

In between times Will has watched just about every documentary he can find on space and the moon missions.

He is backing up his passion at school, with maths and science his two favourite subjects.

"I might, maybe like to be an astronaut," he said. "More likely a scientist or astronomer."

But his re-enactment of the moon mission has been the pinnacle of his life to date.

"It's been really exciting," he said. "I've really liked going through the mission stages as they actually happened."

The Hartleys family friend, John Howe, is another confessed space nut, who has just returned from his own space mission to check out the Kennedy Space Centre in the US.

"I was a bit worried that when we saw the actual launch pads and the Saturn V rocket it would not be that awe inspiring," Mr Howe said.

"I knew all the dimensions and so I thought it might not live up to expectation.

"But when I saw it, it was, 'wow, oh my God'. Those things were absolutely huge."

Like Will, Mr Howe has also been a big fan of space travel from his youth.

"It was always the ultimate adventure," he said.

"Just the thought of what they did and achieved was exciting and I think it was something everyone at the time time felt."



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