The Bochum Radio Observatory, Germany

In the 1957 – 1975 period, the 20 metre parabolic antenna of the Bochum Observatory in (the then) West Germany was often in the news as it received transmissions from Russian and American space vehicles. The Director at the time, Professor Heinz Kaminski, was able to provide confirmation of events and data independent of both the Russian and US space agencies.

During the later Apollo missions, the observatory received and recorded some of the Field Sequential Color TV transmissions from the Lunar Rovers on the Moon, as well as biomedical data and voice.


Bochum Observatory 1972

The 20 metre Bochum antenna inside its radome, in 1972.

Photo: Bochum Observatory. With thanks to Thilo Elsner.


An independent recording of the Lunar Landing.

During Apollo 11, the observatory ‘listened in’ on the first lunar landing.

The present Director, Dr. Thilo Elsner, has provided a short audio recording of transmissions received from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, Eagle, at the time of Lunar touchdown.

The Moon was just above the horizon at the time of the landing, but it was below the horizon for the first step. (See graphic below.)


Hear the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing

audio 430kb mp3 file.

In this stereo mp3 file, the recording made at Bochum is on the right channel –
and the NASA Net 1 recording (recorded at Honeysuckle, but coming from Goldstone) is on the left channel.

Charlie Duke (Capcom in Houston speaking with the astronauts) – and the associated Quindar tones – are heard only on the left channel (i.e. the NASA recording) since Bochum could only hear the transmissions from the Moon – not those being transmitted to the Moon from the tracking stations on Earch.

Bochum and Net 1 recordings synchronised by Colin Mackellar.

Earth from the Moon at the landing

This graphic shows the side of the Earth visible from the Moon at the time Eagle touched down on the lunar surface (2018GMT Sunday 20 July 1969).

As seen from Bochum, the Moon was at a low elevation and was setting. NASA Manned Space Flight Network stations at Madrid and Goldstone both tracked Eagle to the surface.

Bochum Observatory

Listening to an Apollo mission at Bochum.

Photo: Bochum Observatory. With thanks to Thilo Elsner.