This month’s Fortean Times has an incredible and creepy article about the Judica-Cordicglia Brothers, a pair of Italian radio enthusiasts who made a hobby of picking up radio signals from the Soviet and American space programs.
The creepy thing is, they seem to have picked up signals that nobody was supposed to know about, on the Russian side. For example, on 2 Feb 1961, they picked up some labored breathing, as if of a dying man, and a heartbeat from one of the Russian satellites. The thing is, the first man in space is supposed to have been Yuri Gagarin, on 12 April of that year. Nothing was ever reported about a previous manned mission, which would be odd if one had occurred… at least if the cosmonaut came back alive.
The brothers recorded everything they picked up. You can hear the recordings of that incident here.
By sheer good luck, the J-C brothers’ younger sister was a fluent speaker of Russian, so they were able to translate all the Russian missions pretty easily. They got most of the well-known ones, but sometimes, well —
On 23 May 1961, they picked up transmissions of a woman’s voice, apparently reporting increasing heat, and seeing a flame, before being cut off.
3 days later TASS reported that on the 23rd a large “unmanned” spacecraft, the size of a city bus, had burned on re-entering the atmosphere.
The brothers became famous in Italy, and appeared on a TV quiz show; their prize was to visit NASA. The NASA folks were uninterested in the Italian brothers till they played them some of their recordings, at which point they became VERY interested, and arranged to trade some of NASA’s knowledge of Russian frequencies for some of the brothers’.
Also by this time the brothers had been contacted by a member of an Italian intelligence agency, who made sure they were very careful when they talked to the extremely inquisitive Russian “journalist” who had been coming around. (Both of these spooks, the Russian and the Italian, talked to the author of the FT article and confirmed what had been going on.)
Oh, I forgot the creepiest thing.
On 24 Feb 1961, they picked up a tapped S.O.S. signal from space. But instead of moving in an orbit like it ought to, it seemed to be staying more or less in one area of the sky, but growing fainter and fainter, as if it were falling away from the Earth….
Or maybe the corpse of a Russian is on its way out of our solar system even now, preceded by the radio waves of the S.O.S. he tapped out in 1961….
I hope FT puts the article up on the web sometime. Good stuff.