South Africa’s Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory was originally named Deep Space Station 51 and was built in 1961 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In this role the station assisted in tracking many unmanned United States space missions, including the Ranger, Surveyor ………
……. and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft (which landed on the Moon or mapped it from orbit), the Mariner missions (which explored the planets Venus and Mars) and the Pioneer missions (which measured the Sun’s winds).
The HartRAO is a radio astronomy observatory located in a natural bowl of hills at Hartebeesthoek just south of the Magaliesberg mountain range, Gauteng province, South Africa, about 50 km west of Johannesburg.
NASA withdrew from the station in 1975, handing it over to South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who converted to a radio astronomy observatory. In 1988 the observatory became a National Facility operated by the Foundation for Research Development (FRD); in 1999 the FRD was restructured as the National Research Foundation(NRF).