In the early 1960s, a pair of Italian brothers allegedly managed to hack into Soviet and US transmissions from the first cosmonauts. For strategic reasons, some early space missions were kept secret until they were proven successful, but the Cordiglia brothers (age 20 & 23), managed to make a satellite dish that they claim picked up secret transmissions from space shuttles back to Russian & US home bases:
… on 11 April 1961, an Italian journalist working for the International Press Agency in Moscow received a tip-off that something “of immense importance” was about to happen. He called the Cordiglia brothers.
“We leapt out of bed,” said Achille, “dashed over to our receivers and began listening. Suddenly, in what was a magical moment, the hiss faded and this Russian voice emerged from very far away for a few seconds.” At that stage, no one in the West – not even the President of the United States – knew that the Russians had launched a rocket.
Russian translators were few and far between but the brothers had this covered – their younger sister was fluent in Russian. The first sentence they heard was: “The flight is proceeding normally. I feel well. The flight is normal. I am withstanding well the state of weightlessness.”
As the brothers listened, the cosmonaut experimented with zero gravity. They lost the signal as the cosmonaut prepared for re-entry while whistling a communist hymn. It was only then that President John F Kennedy was awoken at 2am to be given the news that Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
Fascinating article here. Cosmonauts and space missions seem very theoretical and almost like works of fiction to me: this article made them seem much more real, even if it may be an exaggeration or hoax.