Looking back at the Apollo 11 landing radio transmissions

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2019/07/14 - 12:04

Were you around 50 years ago for the historic landing of Apollo 11 on the moon?

Radio communications played a vital role in the mission.  When seconds count and the station you are talking to is a couple hundred thousand miles away, the importance of the "ABC's" of radio comms become clear - Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity.  The mission used ground-breaking voice and data communications methods that many radio amateurs use today.  (By the way, the radios used on Apollo were supplied by Collins!)

While millions watched the event on TV, and saw a blurry, grainy live TV picture of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping out onto the moon, there was no "live TV" of the actual landing itself -- the TV networks used animation to show what it might look like.

But there was a 16 mm film camera on the lunar lander, pointing out the window.  Here is that film showing the last 15 minutes up to the point when "...the Eagle has landed!", complete with actual radio audio from Mission Control to the lunar lander, and subtitles and annotations of what was taking place.  Enjoy!

And if you liked that one....

You'll love this one.  How about experiencing it with the "Flight Director's Loop" added.  It includes the flight controllers' traffic, and more complete annotations.  For the best effect, make sure you have your audio set to stereo or better still, use headphones.  The people on the ground are hearing and reacting to it all, but the only voice the astronauts hear is "Cap Com" --   all traffic to the astronauts goes through one source only, and only when needed.  There's no butting-in on this net!


Some further interesting Apollo radio facts

From the ARRL:  The nearly forgotten story of how a radio amateur successfully detected transmissions from the first men to land on the Moon.  http://www.arrl.org/eavesdropping-on-apollo-11

From NASA:  For everything you would possibly ever want to know about Apollo 11 and other lunar landings, below are links to transcripts, radio audio, photos, videos, flight journals, etc.

Published on Oct 10, 2014

An annotated portrayal of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon with captions to explain the various stages of the descent. This is part of the Apollo Flight Journal, Apollo 11 collection.
Other videos in this series: