Lunar Eavesdropping

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2009 2:05 pm

I recently received an email from Chris Graney, an astronomer I went to grad school with. During a conversation with a reporter, Chris found out about a remarkable story: in 1969, a radio technician was able to use home-built equipment to listen in on the Apollo 11 transmissions to Earth!

It was a remarkable effort. He had to build the equipment and guide it by hand to track the Moon (if the Moon drifted out of the equipment’s field of view he lost the transmission… need I say it? More proof we went to the Moon). The story got some coverage, but apparently faded away over the years. I certainly never heard of it. Chris is wondering if anyone else was able to do this, too. If you’ve heard anything like this, leave a comment!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA
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Comments (62)

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  1. Espiando la Luna « como el agua en el agua | October 4, 2009
  1. DrFlimmer

    Reminds me of Heinz Kaminski from Bochum, Germany, who was the first one in the western world listening to Sputnik 1 in 1957. He built an antenna on his own, too, and, needless to say, he also listened to the transmissions from the moon 12 years later (e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_evidence_for_Apollo_Moon_landings#Apollo_11 ).

  2. JohnW

    I have a question sortof related to this. NASA, or JPL, or whoever transmits information and commands to various probes and explorers around the solar system. Are those transmissions encrypted at all? Or could some clever hacker transmit commands independently? I imagine he would need some pretty powerful equipment to do so.

  3. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Radio amateurs are very familiar with the radio communication technique called "moon bounce", so it’s not to much trouble picking up a radio transmission from the Moon.

  4. Ed Wilhelm

    There is an article in the June 1972 edition of QST magazine on a group of ham operators that did this. I have a pdf of the article if you would like to read it.

  5. @JohnW- in the sixties, definitely not. Today, I would imagine that there’s, if nothing else, authentication tokens required to communicate with the probes. But, I’m pretty sure the data coming back from the missions comes back unencrypted. But I’m just shooting in the dark, here.

  6. 3. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE Says: “Radio amateurs are very familiar with the radio communication technique called “moon bounce”, so it’s not to much trouble picking up a radio transmission from the Moon.”

    That was all too evident when listening to the conversations with the crews on the moon. You could always hear the ground controllers voice repeated about 1.5 seconds later, sometimes annoyingly overlaying the astronauts.

    – Jack

  7. 2. JohnW Says: “Are those transmissions encrypted at all? Or could some clever hacker transmit commands independently? I imagine he would need some pretty powerful equipment to do so.”

    I’m not sure about NASA, but military satellites 30 years ago used “access keys” at the start of every message. They were all generated on the ground from some hugely encrypted pseudo-random-number generator and loaded into the vehicle before launch. Every time the ground communicated with the bird a key was “burned.” They had to be not only the correct number, but used in sequence.

    On the receiving side, I believe that t3knomanser is correct in that the data are not encrypted per se, as in security protection, but the data streams are pretty densely multiplexed to make use of every bit coming back. You’d need to know the algorithms in order to make sense of it.

    – Jack

  8. Steve P.

    @JohnW: Not likely, but they are definitely coded to (a) compress huge data like images and (b) communicate efficiently with weak signal strength. You won’t be able to understand the signal these days unless you have special digital decoders (not available to the public), sort of like the DTV boxes digital TV reception requires.

  9. Flavio

    Nothing will convince all the lunatics, I guess.

  10. I am fully convinced that no amount of prof will ever convince hoax believers that man actually stepped foot on the Moon. None. Even the recent images from LRO will not be enough.

  11. Sili

    My father told me about someone at Thule Airforce Base who’d been in contact with a set of astronauts when NASA ‘lost’ them during a bout of radioshadow.

    Supposedly the ‘experts’ visited him afterwards, and were shocked to see his equipment. He’d built cavity resonators out of old coffee tins. For some reason they found that embarrassing.

    It may of course just be a tall tale. I certainly don’t recall anything about tracking. On the other hand radioshadow is interesting. Didn’t some Italian amateurs pick up signals from one of the expeditions to the North Pole (Nobile’s?) because of it?

  12. It’s anecdotal, but while attending the Space Symposium last year, I ran into a significant number of people who worked on encrypting/decrypting software and hardware. It seemed to be a pretty big slice of the aerospace budget pie. So my guess is that just about everything transmitted to or from vehicles in space is encrypted.

  13. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @ Michael L,

    The major problem with those “Moon landing hoax” believers is that they suffer from an inferiority complex, which they overcompensate by adopting a superiority complex:

    Yeah, that’s it! It’s all a hoax! I’m a f***ing genius! Everybody else who believes that men landed on the Moon are just mindless sheep, but I know the TRUTH™ because I’m Napoleon XIV! Ha-Haaa!

    So, to admit that they are wrong would be to admit that they have been a total dick-head all these years in believing in the “Moon landing hoax” conspiracy theories; therefore, they adopt total denial of any proof of actual Moon landings.

  14. Tony

    This does not prove the moon landings happened. It is obvious that NASA landed radio transmitters on the moon on all those earlier missions just in case someone tried to listen in on the communications. You are all fools! All of you! When will you all wake up and see the TRUTH!

  15. MadScientist

    Radio enthusiasts (are they a dying breed?) used to do all sorts of fun stuff. However, radio buffs routinely communicated with satellites and to this day you can still use some channels with fairly simple home built equipment. (Just don’t swamp the channels or you’ll have a horde of angry people around the world.)

    That article looks genuine though; in fact his chicken wire setup bears an uncanny resemblance to some types of actual antennas used with space work – that’s awesome – a bit like Gilligan’s Island except that it will really work.

  16. Sam Nesvoy

    See the section “Deep Space Amateur Radio Reception” on this page: http://www.hobbyspace.com/Radio/radio2.html

  17. Oh man. Radio amateurs knock my socks of with what they can do.

    Although, amateur is the wrong word. Sure, they don’t get paid for it, but there’s nothing amateurish about it!

  18. Petrolonfire

    @ 7. MichaelL Says:

    I am fully convinced that no amount of prof will ever convince hoax believers that man actually stepped foot on the Moon. None

    No amount of Professors? But [Cletus voice on] o’course all them egg-types are in on the conspiracy and we’z’all know them thar ack-uh-deem-ick types are not to be trusted, Brandine![/Cletus voice off.] 😉

    Or do you mean proof? Yeah, I know typos can be funny sometimes.;-)

  19. Flying sardines

    @ 7. MichaelL :

    I am fully convinced that no amount of prof will ever convince hoax believers that man actually stepped foot on the Moon. None. Even the recent images from LRO will not be enough.

    Well, lets see we’ve got the photos, the moon rocks, thousands of historical records, the consistent accounts of all twelve (or really more like thirty) astronauts, the confirmation of the opposing Soviet Union -the loser in the space race, a whole tonne of scientific data incl. a whole new theory explaining the origin of the Moon (the “Big Splash” theory), the RADAR reflectors, the actual Apollo spacecraft in the Smithsonian and, yes, ham radio folks who’ve evesdropped on the Apollo missions, et cetera, etc ..

    No, sadly, MichaelL I get the feeling your right, a Moon Hoax Conspiracy Theory Believer is so impervious to logic and evidence he wouldn’t believe we’d landed on the Moon even if he was standing on the lunar regolith looking at Tranquility Base himself :

    MHCTBer : “No way man, you just faked the gravity & all!”

    Me: :roll:

    Me: “Okay, this prove it to you?”

    * Takes off MHCTBer’s helmet*

    * Messy explosive decompression, blood freezing / boiling ensues *

    * Low gravity, slow fall of MTCBer’s corpse * Thump!

    Me : “Enough proof for ya at last!”

    (Walks back to Armstrong Base.) 😉

  20. «bønez_brigade»

    The audio files are located here:
    http://www.jefferson.kctcs.edu/observatory/apollo11/audio/

    Their web designer linked to their local copies.

  21. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    MadScientist:

    Radio enthusiasts (are they a dying breed?) used to do all sorts of fun stuff.

    They certainly are a dying breed. These days, rather than taking the trouble to construct their own radios, boys are only interested in playing bloody computer games bought ‘off-the-shelf’.

  22. Elwood Herring

    It’s true you’ll never convince all the sceptics no matter what proof you come up with. I know two people (who don’t know each other): one believes passionately that Apollo 11 was faked, but all the other moon landings were real, and the other guy is certain that Apollo 11 was the only genuine mission, and all the others were faked! I’ve got to get these two clowns together one day…

  23. Kyle Vernon

    Anybody ever thought of asking our cold war pals, the Russians, about duplicate copies of the Apollo exchanges? Seems to me if there was any group that would be interested on blowing the lunar landing whistle it would be them. The KGB/GRU would have urped their ushanka’s if they determined the landings were hoaxed. I read in a book about the Soviet space program that mentioned every American mission was recorded – including telemetry signals. Key things like Doppler shift and DX’ing would have been dead give aways. Hiding somewhere in Moscow are the unabridged Apollo tapes, I’ll bet.

  24. Strahlungsamt

    I remember, a long time ago, on BBC Radio 4, listening to some British radio astronomers who recorded the entire Soviet Space Program and knew of all their accidents before they were announced publicly (if they were announced at all). These guys spoke Russian (quite rare in the 50s/60s) and documented everything they heard.

    Unfortunately I don’t know their names but I’m sure it could be google’d.

  25. Flying sardines

    @ 22. Elwood Herring Says:

    It’s true you’ll never convince all the sceptics no matter what proof you come up with. I know two people (who don’t know each other): one believes passionately that Apollo 11 was faked, but all the other moon landings were real, and the other guy is certain that Apollo 11 was the only genuine mission, and all the others were faked! I’ve got to get these two clowns together one day…

    LOL absolutely! 😀

    How weird are those beliefs though – why would one mission be fake & the rest real or only one real w the rest faked? It just doesn’t make sense, logically you’d think it’d be all or nothing re: Apollo missions being “faked.” Then again, what about the MHCT *does* make sense really? :roll:

    I’ve always thought the majority of the MHCTBers didn’t even really know or really recognise the fact that there was more than one Moon-landing.

    @ 21. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE Says:

    [Radio enthusiasts] .. certainly are a dying breed. These days, rather than taking the trouble to construct their own radios, boys are only interested in playing bloody computer games bought ‘off-the-shelf’.

    Too true. :-(

    Decades ago many people (my grandpa for instance) used to build their own crystal radio sets & do ham radio. Who still does these days? Anyone? Next to no-one? A pity.

  26. Joe Pope

    Anybody here see the movie “The Dish” about the scientific team at the Parkes Australia radio dish that picked up the video signals of the first step on the moon? Great movie about science. The scene where they lose track of Apollo 11 due to a power failure, and how they find it again (i.e. point the dish at the moon) was great.

    http://thedishmovie.warnerbros.com/index_noflash.html

  27. Cool stuff.

    It is interesting to note that “Baysinger was the “brain” behind the activities of the Louisville UFO Investigations Committee.” I wonder what the results of the investigation were.

  28. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Flying sardines:

    Me: “Okay, this prove it to you?”

    * Takes off MHCTBer’s helmet*

    * Messy explosive decompression, blood freezing / boiling ensues *

    […]

    That is a common misconception resulting from bad science-fiction stories:

    * Effects [of Space Exposure] on Humans

    * Outer Space Exposure

    * Human Body in a Vacuum

    Explosive Decompression & Vacuum Exposure

  29. Lurker #753

    @24:
    Your recollection may be playing tricks…. I believe you’re referring to Jodrell Bank scooping the Russians on their own pictures from the lunar surface from Luna 9 in 1966. The astronomers at JB were were listening (and recording), realised that the signals were simply a fax, rigged the appropriate gear, and got the pictures to the press, and the time-zone difference (3 hours) converted that into a whole day. But it was fax data, not spoken Russian, that was eavesdropped.

  30. Michael Kingsford Gray

    The article says:

    “Baysinger figures NASA or the TV network [I assume it was probably CBS] put in a delay in case they needed to edit out anything embarrassing.”

    This is not the reason, I think.
    The reason is that the transmission was received at Honeysuckle Creek, in Australia, and passed through chains of repeaters to the US, and then from Houston to the TV station.
    This is whence the delay.
    (As Baysinger experienced the event with the same delay that the techs at Honeysuckle Creek would have, the delay difference would have been maximized.)
    Folks in Australia saw the landing a second or so before the Yanks, having only the delay of getting it from Honeysuckle Creek, to the TV stations of the land, without the added delay of the cross-Pacific, cross-US element.

  31. bad Jim

    “The Dish” was a fun movie, but I had a couple of quibbles with it. They’d lost power due to a couple of accidents, and it took them a while to figure out where to point the dish after losing track. Could it really have been that hard to figure it out? Then someone points at the full moon in broad daylight.

    Apart from that, well worth watching.

  32. Kaleberg

    1) Yeah, I saw The Dish and loved it. It was a neat small scale movie about the little Australian town that hosted the critical receiving station for the moon landing. The portrait of small town life was great, as was the great “growing up” framing. I couldn’t help thinking of it when I saw this post.

    2) There were a lot of radio amateurs listening in on the space program. I had a cousin who used to listen in on manned space flights. Chicken wire and coffee cans were standard equipment back. I’ve even used chicken wire to match antenna impedances. It’s cheap. It’s 2D. Sigh, this brings back the memories. Do they even publish the ARRL Antenna Handbook anymore?

    3) Modern hackers aren’t doing radio work that much. They are more likely to be photographing satellites and space missions by stacking images, exploring wireless data networks or tracing IP packet routings to find interesting anomalies. Modern radio is all digital these days, and it uses special purpose hardware. It isn’t easy to build an amateur 3G or CDMA rig.

    4) The Russian moon probe that returned the first images of the far side of the moon really did have a fax machine in it. It also had a complete darkroom so it would have something to fax. A camera took the pictures. The darkroom chemically developed them. The facsimile scanner sent the pictures to earth. I always found the darkroom step kind of mind boggling.

  33. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @ bad Jim,

    According to this Moon Phase Calculator, on July 20-21, 1969, the Moon was almost at First Quarter, not at Full Moon, so it would have been visible in broad daylight.

  34. What is it they say about there being no surer proof than contempt, prior to investigation?

    Whatever.

    As to the original question, I remember clearly people in the Ham radio universe were hep to listening in on the Apollo chatter, and articles written about the particulars in American Radio Relay League’s “73’s,” or whatever it was called.

    Though I was barely an adolescent through the Apollo Era, ages 10 through 17 from Apollo 204 through Apollo-Soyuz, I remember at least one Extra-Class amateur I know who was actually listening in on the loop during at least one mission, while in Trans-Lunar Coast.

    The details escape me, but I recall the frequency was well into the then-frontiers of UHF. You’ve got my curiosity up, though, and thanks for reminding me about this. I’ll be up all night talking to the real old timers, now, on the 20 meter band.

  35. bad Jim

    IVAN3MAN: they showed a full moon in broad daylight. I might not have noticed had I not read some of Phil’s complaints about advising film companies who could not be coaxed into considering a gibbous moon.

  36. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @ bad Jim,

    Excuse me, I did not mean to imply that you were mistaken, so I should have made that clear in my post above; I was just pointing out the fact that the film makers should have shown the Moon at First Quarter, as it was at that moment in time.

  37. There’s a good example of amateur radio enthusiasts tracking Apollo on this webpage:

    http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/trackind/Apollo17/APOLLO17.htm

    It even provides some sound files captured by the group of the Astronauts talking whilst on the Moon. Pretty interesting stuff.

    Similarly interesting is this page that shows photographs captured by amateur astronomers and various observatories of the assorted Apollo space craft before and just after TLI.

    http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/space/apollo.html

    I love showing the above links to hoax believers. The best response I’ve gotten is that they’re just “pictures taken by yahoo astronomers of random lights in the sky”. Most amusing. 😛

  38. dosman

    Re: Strahlungsamt:
    You are most likely talking about the Italian Cordiglia brothers. Their story is quite amazing, despite their controversy. They where at the time aged 8 and 10, and with their ham radio able to hear the transmissions of sputnik as it flew over Turin, Italy. From their they went on to make verified recordings of both the Russians and Americans as they orbited the earth early in the space race. Their sister happened to be learning Russian and was able to provide instant translations of the USSR’s transmissions. Some of the controversy revolves around their “pre-Yuri Gagarin” recordings of Russians in space. Despite that, they did have enough credibility to cause NASA to bring them on a field trip to the US and supposedly attracted negative attention of the Russians. They calculated the frequency the US was using from a photo by comparing the length of the antenna on a Gemini? capsule to some standard size piece of equipment the frogmen where wearing while retrieving the astronauts after it had landed in the ocean. They where bright lads.

    There are many different accounts of their story, this one has a reasonable amount of details:
    http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/conspiracy/q0235a.shtml

    One thing to note, I don’t believe it was mentioned in this article. The recording of the Russian with the sound of his heartbeat over the voice was considered to be faked because heartbeat telemetry is not sent in-band with audio transmissions, it’s on another frequency. But on the other hand, who knows what the Russians where doing, they had so many different branches of government doing work on competing spacecraft it’s not outside the realm of plausibility.

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Ivan3man (3) said:

    Radio amateurs are very familiar with the radio communication technique called “moon bounce”, so it’s not to much trouble picking up a radio transmission from the Moon.

    Well, it’s been quite a while since I read about the details, but IIRC the E-M-E path loss is more than 105 dB, so (assuming about 55 dB for moon – Earth) you’d still need plenty of antenna gain. Either that or the mother of all masthead preamps! After all, NASA did use some fairly substantial-sized dish antennas for the job.

  40. Nigel Depledge

    Flying Sardines (19) said:

    Well, lets see we’ve got the photos, the moon rocks, thousands of historical records, the consistent accounts of all twelve (or really more like thirty) astronauts,

    24 men have been to the moon (including Apollos 8, 10 and 13, none of which landed on the moon). Remember that some of them got to go twice (Jim Lovell, for example, was either LMP or CMP of Apollo 8, and commander of Apollo 13).

  41. Nigel Depledge

    Elwood Herring (22) said:

    It’s true you’ll never convince all the sceptics no matter what proof you come up with.

    I think “sceptics” is the wrong word for Hoax Believers (HBs). A sceptic is typically open to persuasion by sufficient evidence. Nearly all HBs are simply not open to the possibility that the Apollo missions genuinely succeeded.

    Sceptics are open to the possibility that they themselves might be wrong, and this certainly is not characteristic of HBs.

  42. Nigel Depledge

    Kaleberg (32) said:

    Do they even publish the ARRL Antenna Handbook anymore?

    Don’t know, but I did share use of a copy back in the mid-90s (Radio Club at Uni).

  43. Al C

    Speaking of ‘moon landing deniers’ and radio operators,here’s something similar.Two local radio operators in my area were overheard discussing the space station fly overs recently.They can’t figure out why it doesn’t run into a star since there are so many ‘up there’ 😛 .

  44. #38 Nigel: Three of the astronauts went to the Moon twice. Jim Lovell, of course, went twice, but didn’t get to land on it – on Apollos 8 and 13.
    John Young was CMP of 10, then Commander of 16. Gene Cernan was LMP of 10, then Commander of 17.

    May I say here that I’ve had the great honour and privilege of meeting three Apollo astronauts – Charlie Duke, Alan Bean and Fred Haise – and hope to meet Jim Lovell this week.

  45. #25 Flying Sardines:
    Yes, a remarkable proportion of conspiracy-believing morons do indeed refer to “the Moon landing”, in the singular, as if they are too stupid to even realise that there were more than one!
    One of their favourite arguments concerns “the fuzzy black and white TV pictures, which made it impossible to see what was really going on”. They are apparently unaware that this situation applied only to Apollo 11; all the later missions transmitted far higher quality colour TV ( though Apollo 12 did so only for a short time, as Alan Bean broke the camera! ).

  46. #30 Michael:
    While you are absolutely correct, there was also another reason for the delay in the TV reception, besides the relay times. The TV cameras used on the Moon didn’t record in standard TV format; they used a lower frame rate, and were not really colour cameras at all. They were in fact black and white cameras, which used a rotating filter wheel, so the red, green and blue images for each frame were recorded and transmitted “in series”, instead of “in parallel”, as is done in standard TV systems. Hence there was a slight delay in the system, due to the necessity of converting the signal into standard TV format, before relaying it to the TV stations.
    On Apollo 11, with its low-rate black and white transmission, the “conversion” was done in a remarkably crude manner. The picture was displayed on a large screen at Houston, and the TV companies simply filmed the screen with their own cameras!
    This is explained in detail by Jay Windley at www dot clavius dot org.

  47. #17 Nicole:
    “Amateur” is absolutely the correct word – when used in its correct meaning! While it’s often used with negative connotations, the word is derived from the Latin verb amat – to love. So its original and correct meaning is someone who does something for the love of it – which most certainly applies to radio amateurs, and to amateur astronomers!

    While I haven’t heard of any other radio amateurs eavesdropping on Apollo, there have been many examples of them monitoring Earth-orbiting satellites.
    In 1957, Geoffrey Perry, a physics teacher at a British grammar school, who was also a radio amateur, monitored the transmissions from Sputnik 1. Throughout the 1960’s, Perry and successive classes of schoolboys, using only amateur radio equipment, maintained an extensive programme of monitoring Soviet satellites and determining their orbits.
    Among Perry’s achievements was the discovery, independently of the US Government, of the existence of the USSR’s “secret” military launch site at Plesetsk, and a pretty accurate determination of its location. ( He tracked the orbits of some satellites, and concluded that they couldn’t possibly have been launched from either of the two known launch sites. )
    This fact demonstrates the sheer stupidity of the conspiracy loonies’ claims about NASA having a “secret” launch site, and launching “secret” unmanned spacecraft! It would have been totally impossible to keep the existence of a launch site “secret” for more than five minutes!

  48. ozzie

    Just in case some of you don’t know … The Dish is a movie – it had script writers and directors who want their movie to make money and guess what …. lots of it didn’t really happen.
    They did have wind which caused a concern. They didn’t lose track of the CM/LEM.
    etc, etc.
    It was enjoyable movie …

  49. Canada Jeff

    My best friend’s father was (and still is) a ham radio geek. When we were kids in the early 80s we listened to space shuttle radio chatter a few times on his basement rig. We could only get them for a few minutes while the orbiter was line-of-site to his antenna in the back yard, but it was the coolest thing ever. He’s one of the main reasons why I’m a science geek today.

    Thanks VE6AMG, keep the power on. And thanks Dr. Phil for bringing this memory back for me.

  50. You can listen to satellites and the International Space Station with remarkably simple equipment. Just a standard radio shack scanning radio (may be decades old as mine was) and a length of metal wire will do (for a moon probe, you need a bit more though…).

    When my old scanner radio was still working, I hooked it up to two 50 cm pieces of metal threadwire from a hardware store and listened in to the ISS communicating with ground stations in Russia at 143.625 MHz when ISS was passing over my place. You can hear some recordings, as well as some recordings of signals of other sats with the same primitive setup, by clicking on the link in my name above.

    When MIR was still in orbit, the signal sometimes came up on the police frequencies used in my area at that time. At one time, we heard a cop grumble to the central about “those damned Ruskies blabbing again!” 😀

    ISS communications at 143.625 MHz are unencoded, you just can plainly hear what they say (usually in Russian).

    Radio transmissions are regularly used by amateur satellite trackers to determine orbits of satellites (e.g. newly launched militray satellites), including geostationary satellites

  51. A very nice overview of amateur work on space-craft radio transmissions is on Sven Grahn’s website:

    http://www.svengrahn.pp.se

  52. Flying sardines

    @ 38. Nigel Depledge Says:

    Flying Sardines (19) said: “Well, lets see we’ve got the photos, the moon rocks, thousands of historical records, the consistent accounts of all twelve (or really more like thirty) astronauts,”

    24 men have been to the moon (including Apollos 8, 10 and 13, none of which landed on the moon). Remember that some of them got to go twice (Jim Lovell, for example, was either LMP or CMP of Apollo 8, and commander of Apollo 13).

    Thanks.

    24 – 30 same diff! Well, would you accept approximation? I just rounded up! 😉

    Twelve Moon-Walkers plus 6 “loneliest men on Earth” (CSM pilots) & the Apollo 13 trio plus those couple of dress rehearsals (8-10) & yes a few, David Scott, Jim Lovell, John Young (?) got to fly twice. Yeah if you count them twice it adds up to more & I should’ve allowed for that.

    Anyhow could all those good & honourable men really be lying as the MHCTBers claim? Lying so flawlessly that they are never caught out despite constant interviews etc .. :roll:

    What an absurd and offensive notion really.

    Then there are the thousands of engineers, designers, builders, administrators, scientists and more involved. If it had been a hoax you would have to expect it to have been uncovered ages ago – in fact you just couldn’t manage to keep such a secret with that number of people. Oh & the Russians too .. and it was in their interest to expose any hoax. The MHCT is honestly just too absurd for words & I fail to see why anyone could believe it. Teh Stoopid it burns!

    @ 28. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE Says:

    Flying sardines:
    Me: “Okay, this prove it to you?”
    * Takes off MHCTBer’s helmet*
    * Messy explosive decompression, blood freezing / boiling ensues *
    […]
    That is a common misconception resulting from bad science-fiction stories:

    Yeah, well its my fantasy & I can have bad science in it if I want too! 😛

    Its just more satisfying to think of that way. (Thinks of Total Recall decompresion FXT with Sibrel in place of Kohagen.) 😉

    I loved The Dish – great movie about a great radio-telescope. Okay, it may have a few scientific & historical inaccuracies but it was still a fun and pro-science movie well worth watching. IMHON.

    BTW. Did the BA ever do a review of that?

  53. Morphics

    I sent a mail to the guy who wrote the article, and he’s now fixed the links which were pointing to a local fileserver. Audio, PDFs and images should now be accessible!

  54. Michel

    And then you had the Judica-Cordiglia brothers from Italy who listened in radio traffic from the Russians and Americans:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judica-Cordiglia_brothers

  55. Charles Boyer

    I read in a book about the Soviet space program that mentioned every American mission was recorded – including telemetry signals.

    Now that really begs a rather intriguing question. Remember the lost Apollo 11 telemetry tapes? The ones that had the original video signal embedded? Is it at all possible that the Russians have an archive of something that we don’t even have ourselves?

    I wonder if anyone high up at NASA or in our State Department has asked them.

  56. Charles Boyer

    Also, I should add that once when I was a kid, in the 1970’s, post-Apollo, my grandfather hosted some fellows who had listened in.

    The discussions the NASA telemetry engineer (my grandfather) and these Italian fellows had was utterly and incredibly fascinating. He explained to them things that they had figured out, they explained to him some ideas he said he wish he had had himself.

  57. RL

    I had a professor in college who, legend has it, used his HAM set up to communicate with the shuttle and got a cease and desist from NASA. I believe it. He has a roughly 100 ft tower with yagis AND a powerful 28 ft dish in his backyard. You have to see it to believe it. His hobby was bouncing signals off the moon.

  58. Marko

    Phil, didn’t your co-Skeptologist Brian Dunning do a podcast about something similar? it’s http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4115 – just that it’s Italian eavesdropping of Russians in Space, but the feat seems comparable (the Apollo transmissions surely were fainter, because they were farther away; but the orbiting cosmonauts were moving faster).

    Edit to add: Just noticed that Michel (comment #55) was faster than I. But maybe the Skeptoid link will be helpful to some as well.

  59. Nigel Depledge

    RL, I’ve read about people getting extremely into Moonbounce.

    There was, apparently, one guy somewhere in the US who set up an array of 48 Yagis, using a pair of truck beds as an antenna rotator, to work moonbounce on 2 m (144 MHz).

  60. I only just heard about this story, and since I’m a ham myself (and communications engineer) it immediately piqued my interest. I did a “link budget” to see if it was feasible. I had to estimate some of the numbers. The results are decidedly marginal, but then again his recording IS quite noisy.

    The moon was setting in Louisville KY when Baysinger made his recording, and that probably made the difference. When you track the moon (or a satellite) down to the horizon, you begin to pick up multipath reflections off the ground that add to or subtract from the direct signal. Many moonbounce hams have made contacts on the setting moon during the brief periods when the multipath enhances the signal above what it would be when the moon is high in the sky. Baysinger’s recording does exhibit a very slow fade; at times the signal is pretty much gone but at other times it’s quite readable though still very weak.

    As I see it, while it’s impossible to rule out a sufficiently sophisticated hoax, Baysinger’s claim is entirely plausible and I don’t see anything right now to say that he couldn’t have done it.

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