Apollo missions tracked by independent parties
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.
On Eagle's Wings: The Parkes Observatory's Support of the Apollo 11 Mission
At 12:56 p.m., on Monday 21 July 1969 (AEST), six hundred million people witnessed Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the Moon through television pictures transmitted to Earth from the lunar module, Eagle. Three tracking stations were receiving the signals simultaneously. They were the CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope, the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station near Canberra, and NASA’s Goldstone station in California.
During the first nine minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between the signals being received by the three stations. When they switched to the Parkes pictures, they were of such superior quality that NASA remained with them for the rest of the 2-hour moonwalk. The television pictures from Parkes were received under extremely trying and dangerous conditions.
A violent squall struck the telescope on the day of the historic moonwalk.
Edited by skyeagle409, 18 August 2012 - 06:23 AM.