NASA historian and sometimes-BABB-poster Jim Oberg sent out a notice of a translation of a Russian article about the Soviet tracking of the Apollo missions. The original article (linked below) is copyrighted, but the translation has been approved for distribution. I reproduce it here, with some untranslatable characters and grammar oddities as well. The Bottom line: the Soviets had no problems understanding that Americans went to the Moon. If only Americans had no problems...
Originally Posted by Novosti Kosmonavtiki
Translated: We "saw", As Americans Sat down on the Moon...
E.Molotov specially For " News of astronautics "
Whether clause(article) of the participant of events of 30-years prescription of E.P.Molotova offered(suggested) to readers throws light on unknown pages of " lunar race " and finally closes a ridiculous question " there Were Americans on the Moon? "
Has passed more than 30 years since as the most expensive race between S-U and the U-S-A for superiority(championship) in landing the person to the Moon has been developed(unwrapped). Who has won this race of prestige - it is known. Many events have taken place for this time...
Process of competition was repeatedly described both American, and the Russian party(side). It is represented to us interesting to tell about one of it(him) of earlier not shined(covered) episodes.
Programs of preparation of landing of the person on the Moon in the USSR (flight Ð£Ð*-500 - Ð›-1, landing (planting) Ð?-1 - Ð›-3) and in the USA ("Apollo") were conducted in parallel, and super-iority (championship) had powerful political value. The Soviet management (manual) paid the big attention to a state of affairs with realization of the lunar program both in S-U, and in America. For the objective control over performance of the American program the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU D.F.Ustinov supervising the defensive industry of the country, at the end of 1967 has entrusted main designer Ð*Ð?Ð˜Ð˜ ÐšÐŸ (at that time SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE - 885) M.S.Rjazanskomu to develop a special control radio engineering complex with which help it would be possible to accept signals from the American spacecrafts of the program "Apollo", making flight of the Moon and landing(planting) to its(her) surface.
M.S.Rjazansky at that time was responsible for creation of onboard and ground radio engineering control facilities by spacecrafts of the Soviet lunar program. Under his(its) management(manual) for management Soviet Ð¿Ð¸Ð»Ð¾Ñ‚Ð¸Ñ€ÑƒÐµÐ¼Ñ‹Ð¼Ð¸ and automatic spacecrafts for research of the Moon the Ground complex of management including two control centres by flight, six ground and three ship items(points) of the management, equipped with corresponding stations of tracking and located on territory of Soviet Union and in the certain points of World ocean has been created. However these means could not be used for reception of the information from the ships "Apollo" as they worked in the other frequency range with the signals having other structure. Therefore it was necessary to create the special control complex, capable to provide reception of the data from "Apollos". It was supposed to accept from the American spacecrafts not only telephone (voice) and telemetering, but also the television information.
Has been solved to include in a control complex aerial TNA-400 with diameter of a mirror 32 m which was placed in Crimea, near to Simferopol (fig. 1). She(it) was used as the reception aerial of a radio engineering complex "Saturn - ÐœÐ¡" providing management by the Soviet automatic space vehicles for research of the Moon later: "Moon rovers", devices for delivery of a lunar ground to the Earth, and also lunar satellites.
For work in structure of a control complex aerial TNA-400 has been equipped Ð¼Ð°Ð»Ð¾ÑˆÑƒÐ¼Ñ?Ñ‰Ð¸Ð¼ with the reception device working in a range of 13 sm (range S in which transmitters of lunar modules of the program "Apollo" worked). Besides in structure of a complex have come: the demodulator of a group signal transmitted on bearing(carrying) frequency and the signals trans-mitted on Ð¿Ð¾Ð´Ð½ÐµÑ?ÑƒÑ‰Ð¸Ñ… frequencies, the equipment of allocation of the voice, telemetering and television information, and also the equipment of display and management of a complex (fig. 2).
The control complex created in short terms Ð*Ð?Ð˜Ð˜ ÐšÐŸ in cooperation with the several industrial enterprises, was ready to reception of signals from s/crafts of the program "Apollo" in Nov 1968.
To trace the ships at their flight on orbits around of the Moon and at landing(planting) to its(her) surface, it was necessary to have the ballistic data of these orbits for calculation Ñ†ÐµÐ»ÐµÑƒÐºÐ°Ð·Ð°Ð½Ð¸Ð¹ to the aerial. However such data were not published by Americans. Therefore the data on orbits of flight were calculated by ballistics on the basis of time of start and arrival to the Moon of the ships "Apollo" which informed by the American radio. On these data paid off Ñ†ÐµÐ»ÐµÑƒÐºÐ°Ð·Ð°Ð½Ð¸Ñ? for prompting the aerial which were specified on signals accepted by a control complex from the lunar ships.
Such approach to calculation Ñ†ÐµÐ»ÐµÑƒÐºÐ°Ð·Ð°Ð½Ð¸Ð¹ has allowed to accept reliably enough signals from "Apollos". The problem(task) of search of signals was facilitated by that the diagram of an orientation of the aerial covered practically half of disk of the Moon.
Tracking was conducted behind spacecrafts of expeditions(dispatches) "Apollo - 8", "Apollo - 10", "Apollo - 11" and "Apollo - 12" from December, 1968 till November, 1969.
From all these ships telephone conversations of astronauts with the Earth and the telemetering information on a condition of onboard systems were accepted with high quality. The accepted television signal had poor quality because of an insufficient level of an energy potential of a radioline on the basis of the 32-meter aerial.
It is necessary to note, that the American network of tracking and management provided practically round-the-clock communication(connection) with spacecrafts "Apollo" while the Soviet control complex could accept signals only in that part of the visibility range which on time coincided with a visibility range of the Madrid station of tracking.
Lunar expedition(dispatch) under F.Bormana's management(manual) on a spacecraft "Apollo - 8" in December, 1968 has carried out the first Ð¿Ð¸Ð»Ð¾Ñ‚Ð¸Ñ€ÑƒÐµÐ¼Ñ‹Ð¹ flight to the Moon, has made 10 coils around of it (her) and, having come back to the Earth with the second space speed, has made soft landing (planting) at ocean.
This flight has formed the basis for a stop of works on the first stage of Soviet program Ð›-1 though all technics (technical equipment) and crews to Ð¿Ð¸Ð»Ð¾Ñ‚Ð¸Ñ€ÑƒÐµÐ¼Ð¾Ð¼Ñƒ to flight of the Moon by then were ready.
Flight of crew "Apollo - 11" with an output (exit) on a surface of the Moon on July, 20, 1969. N.Armstrong and E.Oldrina has finally stopped competition on landing the person to the Moon.
On fig. 3 photos of spectra of the signals accepted by control station from spacecrafts "Apollo", made with the screen of the videocontrol device are submitted. On fig. 4 the image of rising of the Earth above the lunar horizon, accepted on a telechannel from one of the ships "Apollo" is shown.
As is known, after that Soviet Union has directed the efforts to research of the Moon by automatic space vehicles therefore impressing results have been received.
In summary we shall note, that data on creation and functioning of the Soviet special control radio engineering complex were not published earlier.