Adhir Saiyadh, 58, a ham radio enthusiast, was trying to get connected with ISS when he received a response from astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon

A 58-year-old Ham radio enthusiast from Ahmedabad is over the moon after he got in touch with NASA astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule before they docked with International Space Station on Sunday and created history. It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the space station in its more than 20 years of existence.

Unable to contain his child-like excitement, Adhir Saiyadh, a qualified computer engineer, told Mirror that he was trying to connect with ISS when he suddenly received a response from Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, the two astronauts on board Dragon.

“I was on a video call with a friend in Valsad, explaining to him the features of a mobile application that helps track ISS. He asked me if we could connect with ISS. I realised that ISS was to pass over India around then and I decided to try my luck. I coincidentally got connected on their frequency and received a reply from one of the commandants on the capsule,” he said.

Screen grab shows Saiyadh connected to Behnken showing off the toy dinosaur

Saiyadh got connected around the time the astronauts were giving viewers of Nasa TV an interactive tour of the cockpit. He says the experience felt personal as he got a response from Crew Dragon astronaut Douglas Hurley when he got connected.

The astronauts gave a quick tour of the spacious Dragon and said that the lift-off was bumpy unlike what the simulators could have given an idea about. ‘Tremor’, a blue sequined dinosaur accompanying them – the toy chosen by their sons – was also shown by Behnken. He told Nasa TV viewers that Tremor and Earthy, a globe that was delivered to ISS on the test flight of Dragon last year, would return to Earth with them at the end of the mission.

Explaining how the contact with the astronauts happened, Saiyadh, who has been a ham radio operator for 35 years, said, “It is not something new. Amateur radio operators across the world including myself have connected with the ISS in the past. Usually we get details from NASA on when their radio will be on. Besides, it also has to match the time when the space station would be passing over our country.”

Behnken and Hurley in the capsule

Saiyadh added, “We hardly get five minutes to speak to astronauts. So, it was a pleasant coincidence that when I tried connecting with ISS, it was above India and the astronauts were to start the media event. They responded to a random call from someone in India and so I felt they were talking to me from space and I too was part of the history they made.”

Ham radio is a hobby for many like Saiyadh and is considered to be one of the most reliable communication mediums. It works when all other means of communication fail and has been proven to be useful during natural disasters.

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