A strange object has been orbiting the earth; some say for fifty years, some say less. The object, called the Black Knight, is believed by some to have extra-terrestrial origins and to be over thirteen thousand years old. However, most academics believe that is just a conspiracy theory.
Nikola Tesla first reported hearing sounds from space in 1899, thinking they were signals from intelligent life. In 1968, astronomers discovered that he did, indeed, hear radio signals, but they were from pulsars deep in space.
In 1954, several newspapers including the San Francisco Examiner and the St. Louis Post Dispatch published the opinions of former Marine Corps naval aviator Donald Edward Keyhoe, a famous UFO researcher. Keyhoe, a native of Ottumwa, Iowa was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. After his retirement from the Marine Corps, he worked for the National Geodetic Survey and U.S. Department of Commerce. He also became an author who wrote about Charles Lindbergh’s American tour as well as aviation fiction. At the outbreak of World War II, he returned to military service to train aviators. He achieved the rank of Major before his second retirement. He continued to publish stories in magazines such as Weird Tales, Flying Aces, The Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest.
It was Keyhoe’s belief that extra-terrestrials had visited the Earth and he published several books stating that the U.S. Air Force had detected two satellites orbiting the Earth in 1954 when no such technology existed. At the time, science fiction was becoming increasingly popular. Books by Keyhoe, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke and Issac Asimov, movies such as War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still, along with television shows like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone fueled public imagination regarding space travel and possible alien encounters. Skeptics decided that the articles had been published to help Keyhoe promote his books.
In 1960, during the Cold War, Time Magazine also claimed the U.S. Navy was aware of a satellite with an unusual orbit with an apogee of 1,728 km (1,074 mi) and a perigee of only 216 km (134 mi). At first, they claimed it was a Soviet spy satellite but later stated it was only a U.S. satellite that had broken orbit.
Reports of the Black Knight Satellite have resulted from unverified stories, overzealous reporters, and exaggerated photographs. According to NASA astronaut, Jerry Ross, the object is simply the result of a mistake.
In December 1998, the space shuttle Discovery was sent on a mission to make some adjustments to the International Space Station. The mission was to acquire the Russian ‘FGB’ module already in low orbit, attach it to US ‘Node 1’ in the payload bay, and perform spacewalks to install the needed equipment. Colonel Ross and Dr. James Newman were attempting to install thermal blankets on trunnion pins attached to the space station in order to reduce heat loss and save energy. The blankets were tethered to Col. Ross’ spacesuit but when he attempted to retrieve the second blanket he accidentally lost it. Once he discovered it was gone, it was too far away for the astronauts to retrieve it.
According to NASA, “During spacewalks, debris, both small and large, are often thrown off the station for convenience, although sometimes tools unintentionally slip away.” Such was the case in December 1998, when a slidewire carrier and a worksite interface were lost by the STS-88 crew while conducting an extravehicular activity for ISS. These objects were large enough to be tracked by the US SSN [Space Surveillance Network] and were cataloged (U.S. satellite numbers 25564 and 25565). Three other objects were also released by STS-88 spacewalkers, one inadvertently (an insulation blanket) and two by design (antenna spools), although only the former was officially cataloged.
In an interview conducted by James Oberg on October 15, 2014, Col. Ross stated, “If we see something up there we will be the first ones to ask questions and to tell people we saw something we didn’t understand. Conspiracy theories are fun for those working on them, but a waste of valuable brain power.”