Observers of all missions
The Soviet Union monitored the missions at their Space Transmissions Corps, which was "fully equipped with the latest intelligence-gathering and surveillance equipment". Vasily Mishin ("The Moon Programme That Faltered."), in Spaceflight. 33 (March 1991), pages 2–3 describes how the Soviet Moon programme lost energy after the Apollo landing.
The missions were tracked by radar from several countries on the way to the Moon and back.
The NASA Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) was a world-wide network of stations that tracked the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions. Most MSFN stations were only needed during the launch, Earth orbit and landing phases of the lunar missions, but three "deep space" sites with larger antennas provided continuous coverage during the trans-lunar, trans-earth and lunar mission phases. Today, these three sites form the NASA Deep Space Network: the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex near Goldstone, California; the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex near Madrid, Spain; and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, in Tidbinbilla, near Canberra, Australia.
Although most MSFN stations were NASA-owned, they employed many local citizens. NASA also contracted the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, to supplement the three deep space sites, most famously during the Apollo 11 EVA as documented in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia and portrayed (humorously and not quite accurately) in the movie The Dish. The Parkes Observatory is not NASA-owned; it is, and always has been, owned and operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a research agency of the Australian government.
Several other Australian sites which are no longer part of the Deep Space Network were also involved in relaying Apollo lunar transmissions. The deep space (lunar) tracking station was originally Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. Carnarvon Tracking Station was one of the smaller and more numerous MSFN sites used primarily to support the near-earth segments of Apollo missions, though it also relayed data from the ALSEP lunar surface experiments. Due to its location on Australia's west coast, Carnarvon played a special role in the Apollo trans lunar injection and atmospheric reentry phases. Deakin Switching Centre routed the Apollo television broadcasts.
It would have been relatively easy for NASA to avoid using the Parkes Observatory to receive the Apollo 11 EVA television signals by scheduling the EVA at an earlier time when the Goldstone station could provide complete coverage.
China's second lunar probe, Chang'e 2, which was launched in 2010 is capable of capturing lunar surface images with a resolution of up to 1.3 metres (4.3 ft). It spotted traces of the Apollo landings.
The scientists also spotted traces of the previous Apollo mission in the images, said Yan Jun, chief application scientist for China's lunar exploration project. Several countries, including the United States, have obtained lunar images with higher resolution, but have not published full-coverage images of the moon with a resolution of seven meters or greater, as China has done, Tong said.
Edited by skyeagle409, 11 November 2012 - 07:49 AM.