US woman's baby monitor picks up live video from space shuttle mission

A mother of two in this suburb of Chicago does not have to turn on the news for an update on NASA's space mission.

She just flips on her baby monitor.

Since Sunday, Natalie Meilinger's baby monitor has been picking up black-and-white video from inside the space shuttle Atlantis.

"Whoever has a baby monitor knows what you'll usually see," said the elementary school science teacher. "No one would ever expect this."

Live video of the mission is available on NASA's Web site, so it's possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere.

Doug Phelps, a member of an amateur radio club in neighboring Schaumburg, thinks he knows why Meilinger is seeing visions from space.

His organization, the Illinois chapter of the Motorola Amateur Radio Club, rebroadcasts NASA video as a public service. Because amateur radio operates on the same frequency as baby monitors, it is likely that is where Meilinger is picking up the video.

In fact, members of Phelps' club have picked up audio from baby monitors in the past.

"If you had a receiver in the right frequency, anybody in the public can pick up this signal," said self-described radio "geek" Phelps. "The baby monitor was in the right place at the right time."

Officials from NASA have said the signal is not coming straight from the shuttle, according to NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean.

"People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often - if at all," Dean said.

Summer Infant, the monitor's manufacturer, was looking into what could be causing the transmission, said communications director Cindy Barlow. She said she's never heard of anything similar happening.

"Not even close," she said. "Gotta love technology."

Meilinger silenced disbelieving co-workers by bringing in a video of the monitor to show her class on Tuesday, her students' last day of school. At home, 3-month-old Jack and 2-year-old Rachel do not quite understand what their parents are watching.

"I've been addicted to it and keep waiting to see what's next," Meilinger said.