Indian Ham Radio Enthusiast Did Not Connect With SpaceX Crew: NASA

“It may be technically impossible for the Crew Dragon to communicate through ham radio,” NASA spokesperson said.

Updated12 Jun 2020, 03:21 PM IST
WebQoof
4 min read

US space agency NASA has denied an Ahmedabad-based HAM radio enthusiast’s claim that its crew aboard spacecraft Crew Dragon spoke with him earlier this month.

On Saturday, 30 May, SpaceX’s automated spacecraft Crew Dragon rode NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It marked the first time that US astronauts have been sent into space by a private company.

On 2 June, Adhir Saiyadh – a HAM radio enthusiast from Ahmedabad claimed that he got a response from SpaceX Crew Dragon’s astronauts while trying to connect with the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA now says that Saiyadh’s claims are untrue as it is “technically impossible” for Crew Dragon to communicate through ham radio. Although, there have been instances of Ham radio enthusiasts establishing contact with the ISS.

However his daughter, Kashish Saiyadh said that her father never claimed that he connected with NASA or SpaceX astronauts.

WHO IS SAIYADH AND WHAT WERE HIS CLAIMS?

An engineer from Ahmedabad, Adhir Saiyadh is a ham radio enthusiast. Speaking to news agency ANI on 3 June, he claimed that he got a response from Crew Dragon’s astronauts. “I was on a video call with a student explaining how to connect to ISS, it was then that I got a response,” ANI quoted Adhir Saiyadh as saying.

An archived version of the Tweet can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/TWUIK">here</a>.
An archived version of the Tweet can be accessed here.
(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

The same was then reported by several mainstream news media outlets and websites like Ahmedabad Mirror, mensxp, India TV and NDTV and Times Now News.

An archived version of the report can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/2YBOr">here</a>.
An archived version of the report can be accessed here.
(Source: Ahmedabad Mirror/Screenshot)
An archived version of the story can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/wOlJF">here</a>.
An archived version of the story can be accessed here.
(Source: mensxp/Screenshot)

An archived version of the video can be accessed here.

An archived version of the report can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/cHMhF">here</a>.
An archived version of the report can be accessed here.
(Source: NDTV/Screenshot)
An archived version of the report can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/ikwJ1">here</a>.
An archived version of the report can be accessed here.
(Source: Times Now News/Screenshot)

‘NOT AWARE OF ANY SUCH COMMUNICATION’: NASA

A NASA Spokesperson told The Quint over an email that they checked with SpaceX and both organisations are unaware of any such communication.

“We did check with SpaceX to confirm that they were not aware of any communication with the astronauts via ham radio, and the crew did not report having received communication.”
Gary Jordan, NASA Spokesperson

The spokesperson also added that it may be “technically impossible” for Crew Dragon to communicate through ham radio.

A US-based science journalist, Jennifer Leman, first reported NASA’s denial.

NEVER CLAIMED IT WAS NASA OR SPACEX ASTRONAUTS: SAIYADH’S DAUGHTER

Speaking about ham radio connection, Adhir Saiyadh’s daughter Kashish Saiyadh told The Quint that he never claimed that it was NASA or SpaceX astronauts.

“Around the same time as SpaceX Crew Dragon launch, he was teaching his students how ham radio can be used to speak to astronauts. He tried making a call at the same frequency as Crew Dragon and got a call from them,” she said.

“He wasn’t sure if it was NASA astronauts or any other ham and never claimed it was NASA or SpaceX astronauts. He also mentioned that it was not an actual video call but a video call ‘like’ experience.”
Kashish Saiyadh

HAM RADIO NETWORK

A ham radio network is a network that works via radio waves. In the ham radio network, connections are established through incidental contacts on a wireless transceiver (radio transmitter plus receiver) that works as the networking platform.

You can find more information about the utility of ham radio operators on the Vigyan Prasad website of the Government of India.

Beginning in 1983, there is a long history of ham radio operators communicating with astronauts. As recent as in 2015, a ham from the UK made contact with the ISS and had established a conversation with the crew.

According to NASA, there are more than 1.5 million licensed hams worldwide, including more than 4,00,000 Americans.

(Note: This story was updated to include the response of Adhir Saiyadh’s daughter, Kashish Saiyadh)

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Published: 10 Jun 2020, 04:47 AM IST

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