This was the first place to hear 'The Eagle has landed' - Sun 21 Jul 12:43 GMT

Apollo 11 communications required giant antennas on a British ocean outpost full of donkeys.

  This was one of the few radio communications from Michael Collins while the Apollo astronaut was orbiting the moon alone, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface below.

  Specifically, documents in NASA's basement archives in Washington show, loneliness abounded on British-controlled Ascension Island, a rock halfway between Africa and South America, where NASA support staff tracked and communicated with the Apollo astronauts.

  Ascension Island was part of NASA's largely invisible tracking network that was staffed by what Aldrin later called the mission's "unsung heroes."

  "Ascension Island is known for being NASA's most remote tracking site.

  But during the Apollo 11 anniversary this week, two former tracking station workers shared their personal stories from Ascension Island in the New York Post and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

  "She was there at the tracking station to greet us every morning," Harry Turner wrote in 2003 for the Ascension Island Heritage Society about NASA's donkey mascot.

  In this way, the range rats of Ascension Island were much like Collins, their NASA colleague and astronaut.