Amateur Radio and the Space Age

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KK5JY, Sep 12, 2018.

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  1. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm sitting here watching a history of the Saturn V program, and it reminds me of another story that wasn't that long before it -- Sputnik I.

    One of the goals of Sputnik I was for amateur radio operators around the world to track the onboard CW beacons, which would be evidence beyond any doubt that the vehicle had made it into orbit successfully. And hams all over the world did exactly that -- they tracked the spacecraft, and predicted orbital pass, and even made recordings.

    But back to Saturn V.

    For decades, much/all of the communications between the ground and spacecraft was essentially analog voice and data. Even into the shuttle years, hams often tracked and even made contact with spacecraft in flight using voice and eventually packet modes.

    That makes me wonder -- and this is a question for those of you with long memories -- were there amateur radio operators between 1968 and the end of the Apollo program, who either tracked the Apollo flights to the moon, or listened to the mission communications when the moon was overhead and astronauts either en route or returning?
  2. N0KEW

    N0KEW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh this is interesting. If nobody heard them it’s proof the moon landings were fake. I bet you a quarter nobody heard them. If they had can you imagine the qrming that would have happened?


    Yaesu C4FM sucks
    Edit: yaesu wires x sucks too
  3. W6RZ

    W6RZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    From this link.

    In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission recognized that amateur radio operators could receive Apollo spacecraft signals, but required any disclosure of information to comply with the "Communications Act of 1934." Specifically, NASA had to consent to the disclosure, since the raw downlinks were internal NASA communications and not broadcasts. Paul Wilson and Richard T. Knadle Jr. received voice transmissions from the Command Service Module of Apollo 15 in lunar orbit on the morning of August 1, 1971. In an article for QST magazine they provide a detailed description of their work, with photographs. At least two different radio amateurs, W4HHK and K2RIW, reported reception of Apollo 16 signals with home-built equipment. Larry Baysinger was successful in receiving the backpack AM transmitter carried by the Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on VHF channel B (259.7 MHZ). Baysinger used a very large corner reflector antenna in his yard to receive weak but readable signals carrying both of the astronauts' voices.

    There are other accounts of actual reception of voice via the Apollo Unified S Band System. Sven Grahn, Dick Flagg, and Wes Greenman used a 9 meter radio astronomy dish of the University of Florida to receive signals from Apollo 17. The 20 meter parabolic antenna at West Germany's Bochum Observatory was used to receive signals from Apollo missions 8 through 16.
    N2EY, KU4X and KK5JY like this.
  4. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can either send me the quarter or I take checks too:)
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There was a QST article by K2RIW about it.

    He used a 12 foot homemade dish!

    Too bad Project Moonray never flew.

    As for claims of faking....

    There's no way the Apollo missions were faked, because the Soviets were definitely listening and tracking. If there were anything amiss, they'd have let the world know.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    KU4X and KK5JY like this.
  6. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Soviets were pretty sharp with Sputnik 1. By using 20.005 MHz, they got a free worldwide tracking network, and publicity.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
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  7. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's an interesting point.
  8. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Make no mistake, it really was a race, and you can bet they were listening and watching. And so were we.
  9. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    IIRC, "the company" used one of their newly-minted satellites to detect that the Soviet moon rocket had destroyed itself on the pad, buying the US Apollo program a little more time to get there first.

    But yes, I'm sure the USSR was keen to detect any "fake news" that the Americans might have tried to float about their space program. They were very competitive, no doubt. The Soviet press congratulated Apollo 11 on their success, so it had to be real. :)
    N2EY likes this.
  10. N9ETB

    N9ETB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sputnik operated in the 40Mhz range as well.

    KK5JY likes this.

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