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NASA used its TETR-A training satellite to relay voice, pictures, and telemetry data to ground controllers as if it were real data coming from the spacecraft. This way the controllers didn't have to know it was a hoax; they thought they were running a real mission. [Bart Sibrel]

There were two groups of people that dealt with telemetry during Apollo. The operators of the MSFN collected the radio signals from space and relayed them over land lines to the Mission Control Center (MCC) where they were collated and displayed. At MCC, the flight controllers interpreted the data and made decisions affecting the mission.

Because of the design of the MSFN, a satellite was not required to train the MCC controllers. Simulations were easy to set up. The instructors simply disconnected the outlying stations from the MSFN hub and substituted an equivalent stream of simulated data created by their own ground equipment. The controllers at MCC didn't know or care where the data came from. It was specifically designed this way so that simulations would be indistinguishable from the real thing.

So Sibrel can argue it was possible for the ground controllers to be fooled by simulated data. But it doesn't take a satellite to do it.

MSFN Antennas must be precisely aimed, and a low earth orbit satellite cannot mimic the sky position of a translunar spacecraft.
The MSFN operators absolutely can't be fooled by a satellite. Their antennas must be precisely aimed, and a satellite doesn't follow the same path in the sky as an outbound or inbound Apollo spacecraft. They'd know. Their ability to locate the spacecraft in the sky is nothing short of legendary. They took great pride in being able to use the Doppler shift of the radio signal to determine the flight path of the spacecraft. When compared later with flight records, the MSFN ground station operators were proud to have observed motion of the spacecraft due to such subtle effects as waste dumps and sublimator operation.

As seen from earth, an Apollo spacecraft on a translunar trajectory would always be in roughly the same direction as the moon. But the TETR-A satellite was in a 172 × 294 mile (287 × 490 km) orbit that required only 92 minutes to complete one revolution. From a point on earth it would appear to streak across the sky in a matter of minutes.

Mike Dinn, an Australian scientist who worked at the MSFN tracking station in Australia, writes

"It [the TETR-A] had little more than a transponder and some housekeeping telemetry and limited life. It wasn't really needed as we had Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor spacecraft which were used from some training."

If these people cannot be fooled by a satellite then they have to be included in the conspiracy. But they can simply be told to pretend to track a spacecraft and acquire signals from it. The TETR-A satellite would be completely irrelevant.

So the TETR-A satellite is neither necessary to fool MCC controllers nor sufficient to fool MSFN operators. This charge seems to stem more from the conspiracists' knack for spinning a good yarn than from an effort to formulate a plausible theory for how lunar landings might be falsified.

NASA claims that the TETR-A satellite crashed, but that's a misinformational lie. [Bart Sibrel]

Sibrel doesn't elaborate on how he knows the TETR-A was still orbiting well into 1972, despite NASA's claim that it de-orbited and burned up on April 28, 1968.

Objects already in orbit pose a collision hazard to launches. Spacefaring nations habitually track spaceborne objects that might interfere with their launches. So if NASA claims its satellite burned up, but it was really still up there, the Soviets would have seen it. It's not as easy to hide a satellite as Sibrel believes.

NASA's web page for the TETR-A satellite.

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