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by Wolf Garner


In 1899, while in his Colorado Springs Laboratory, Nikola Tesla received unidentified impulses,
while experimenting with early radio. At first he thought these were just like any other periodic
oscillations emanating from the globe or from thunderstorms that were rolling around his location, but as
he continued to receive them he soon he realized the impulses were in a metronome with regular beats as
if they were an intelligent counting code or repetition of numbers. Seeing that at the time he was the only
person on the planet capable of receiving or sending out such wireless signals over anything more than a
few miles, it was natural to come to the conclusion that the radio waves could not be terrestrial in origin
and must therefore be extraterrestrial. By 1907, he had ruled out their possible origin from the Moon,
Venus, or even natural signals from the Sun. The most likely explanation seemed to be intelligent signals
whose origin was from Mars, which was passing close by earth at the time. These signals were later
picked up by others and were half-jokingly referred to as Little Green Men Signals. In 1967, Susan
Jocelyn Bell Burnell made a connection between these signals and the natural signals emitted from the
stars, called pulsars, but others still claim the signals Tesla received were being emitted by an
extraterrestrial intelligence, namely the Black Knight Satellite, an object that wouldn’t be “discovered”
for another half century.

In 1927, two Americans Taylor and Young identified an echo signal every hundredth of a second,
originating from a distance between 1,800 and 6,250 miles. In December 1928, Jurgen Hals of Phillips
Eindhoven Laboratories in the Netherlands received such signals and in that same month, Norweigan
Scientists, including Professor Carl Stormer of Oslo were experimenting with short wave radio
transmissions, when they began picking up their own signals, being relayed back to them. The repeated
transmissions only took a few seconds to be echoed back in a phenomenon which is now called Long
Delay Echoes (LDEs). Most believe that radio signals sent out can bounce back off the upper atmosphere,
thus creating the echoes of their own signals. On October 28 th , 1929, Dr. Van der Pol of Phillips
confirmed that he had also heard the echoes, being repeated at the same time every morning. Later it
would be claimed that the Black Knight Satellite was responsible for the phenomena, by sending the
signals that reach it, back to their original source.

During the 1950’s, more signals were being received and in 1953, Dr. Lincoln La Paz of the
Department for Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico sighted an unidentified
satellite, while testing new radar equipment. It created a large enough scare for a special team to be put
together by the Army Ordinance Research at White Sands, New Mexico, dedicated to discovering what
the object was and from whence it had come. Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, known for having discovered
Pluto, headed the team and discovered another unidentified satellite riding alongside the first. On March
3 rd , 1954, the Pentagon released an official statement declaring the two objects to be natural satellites or
moonlets, most likely asteroids that had been caught in earth’s orbit. This explanation didn’t satisfy
everyone and especially not UFO author Donald E. Keyhoe. On May 14 th , The San Francisco Examiner
and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran articles citing Keyhoe’s theories instead of reporting the official
explanation. The latter newspaper article was entitled “Artificial Satellites Are Circling Earth, Writer on
‘Saucers’ Says.” Not everyone was willing to tow the conspiracy line however for on August 23 rd , the
magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology released a story that ran; “Pentagon scare over the
observance of two previously unobserved satellites orbiting the earth has dissipated with the identification
of the objects as natural, not artificial satellites. One satellite is orbiting about 400 miles out, while the
other track is 600 miles from the earth.” The New York Times ran a similar article on the satellites the very
next day, but in October, new reports came in that NASA had detected signals from an unidentified
satellite, which Keyhoe pounced upon and claimed the signals were confirmed by a French Astronomer
who had also detected them.

Supposedly in 1957, a UFO was seen around the Russian Satellite, Sputnik I and some even claim
the UFO was “shadowing” or following it. Some reports claimed the object was in a polar orbit, which wasn’t                                                    possible for any known man-made satellites of the time. That same year, Dr. Luis Corralos of the
Communications Ministry in Venezuela photographed an unidentified satellite in a polar orbit, while
taking pictures of Sputnik II as it passed over Caracas. Some claim like with Sputnik I, that the
unidentified satellite object appeared to be following Sputnik II. On November 20 th , 1959, a nearly six
meter shell from the Discoverer VIII came off the capsule and may have gone into a near polar orbit, thus
many have claimed that most of the sightings after this date are of the casing. It has been claimed that the
Ocala Star-Banner newspaper ran an article on the 23 rd , reporting that the air force had given up trying to
find the capsule.

In early 1960, Scientists Otto Struve and Frank Drake from Green Banks, West Virginia had their
recording needles blasted off the dials by a signal of 8 pulses per second, which continued steadily for
five minutes. It was during 1960 that the Black Knight Satellite first received its name, though it has also
been referred to as the Dark Knight Satellite. By 1960, both America and Russia had satellites in orbit,
but beginning on January 4 th , newspapers were reporting a satellite and sometimes two, that nobody
claimed responsibility for putting into orbit. On February 11 th The Southeast Missourian supposedly ran
an article entitled “Dark Satellite Remains Mystery; Unclaimed by All,” when in reality the article was
entitled “Dark Missile May Be Soviet ‘Seeing Eye’” with a sub-title of “Satellite Seems To Be in Polar
Orbit Around Earth.”

On March 7 th , 1960, Time Magazine published an article entitled “Space Watch’s First Catch.” It
confirmed that three weeks before, newspapers had announced that the U.S.’s Dark Fence radar system,
established to track satellites over America, had “detected a mysterious dark satellite” wheeling overhead
on a regular orbit.” The article gave specifics that have been re-quoted throughout the Mythos of the
Black Knight Satellite, though most haven’t traced the origins of the statement back to the Times. “On
Jan. 31 Dark Fence detected two passes of what seemed to be an unknown space object. After detecting
several passes during the following days, Captain W. E. Berg, commanding officer of Dark Fence,
decided that something was circling overhead on a roughly polar orbit. He raced to the Pentagon and in
person reported the menacing stranger to Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke. Within minutes the
news was communicated to President Eisenhower and marked top secret.” The Times article quoted a “top
official” as saying “the only way of knowing that a new satellite has appeared is by keeping track of the
old ones,” which was the entire purpose of the Dark Fence program, about which Times Magazine further
stated “it took two weeks for Dark Fence's scientists to check back through their taped observations, and
to discover that the mysterious satellite had first showed up on Aug. 15. The Air Force surveillance center
also checked its records to provide a list of everything else that was circling in the sky, and its computers
worked out a detailed description of the new object's behavior. The evidence from both Air Force and
Navy pointed to Discoverer V, fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, on Aug. 13.”

Supposedly US Navy radar used to detect satellites picked up an object in a polar orbit. The
Secretary of the Air Force, Dudley Sharp, told newspapers that the satellite was more than likely the
casing from the Discoverer VIII Satellite of the year before. Later declassified documents have revealed
that the Discoverer program was a cover for Project Corona, which was intended to photograph the USSR
from a polar orbit. The “casing” lost in space was actually a container holding the film from the camera,
which was intended to fall back into orbit and parachute safely back to earth, to be developed and studied.
The object, known as a “bucket,” was never recovered and was presumed to have burnt up around the
same time as the Discoverer VIII in March when it reentered the atmosphere, though this was never
confirmed and some have claimed it got trapped in the polar orbit that the satellite was intended for. On
September 3 rd , 1960, seven months after the satellite was first detected by radar, a tracking camera at
Grumman Aircraft Corporation’s Long Island factory took a photograph of it. On May 18 th , 1961 the
Smithsonian Observatory at Cambridge Massachusetts sighted an unidentified “bright satellite.” Even
everyday people had been occasionally spotting it, making out as a red, glowing object moving in a west
to east orbit. Beginning in 1961, Professor Ronald Newbold Bracewell from Stanford University
theorized that there may be an alien probe in orbit over earth, which was waiting to receive intelligent
radio transmissions from earth and bounce them back to their home world, thus the Long Delay Echo
Phenomena. In June of the same year, an article was published in FATE Magazine by Harlan Wilson,                                                      concerning this theory. From 1958 to 1965, England built twenty-five, but only launched twenty-two
rockets in a program named, oddly enough, “Black Knight.” None of the rockets were ever put into orbit
however, nor did they break out of the atmosphere, though they did have a red glow upon falling back
down from the upper atmosphere.

In May of 1963, Astronaut Gordon Cooper, supposedly claimed to have seen a green, glowing UFO
while on board the Mercury 9. The object was also supposedly captured on radar at NASA’s Munchea
Tracking Station at Perth, Australia and people claimed it to be the Black Knight. The official report
stated that Cooper’s electronics had malfunctioned and he breathed too much CO2, causing
hallucinations, but this doesn’t account for the odd coincidence that at the same time as his
“hallucination,” an object was captured on radar by NASA and witnessed on the monitors by around a
hundred workers. Cooper claimed to have sighted many UFOs in his life and stuck to his stories
concerning them being real, but denied that he ever saw a UFO in space while on the Mercury 9. He
claimed the story was made up by UFO authors and presented the original transcripts documenting the
Mercury 9 mission, also revealing that NASA had never picked up a UFO on radar during the mission.

In 1973, Duncan Lunan had been reexamining the old, Norwegian radio signals of 1928, thinking
they were coded messages. This as well as studying Dr. Bracewell’s theories from 1961, led him to
publishing an article in April of 73’ in Spaceflight Magazine. He had “laid out the LDE data on a graph,
using dots to represent the pauses between echoes” and created a star chart of the constellation of Boötis,
that seemed focused around the star of Epsilon Boötis, though the star chart was of the constellation as it
would have supposedly appeared 11,000 to 13,000 years ago. He claimed that an alien spacecraft had
been sent to earth during that time in order to monitor mankind’s development. Lunan’s data was
considered ridiculous by some and others praised it, though some claim he later acknowledged his
methods were unscientific and that he had made undeniable errors in his calculations.

On July 17 th , 1979, The National Enquirer headlined “Crippled UFO Orbiting Earth,” and on the
29 th the British paper Reveille ran an article entitled “Sensation in Space,” in which they claimed a
damaged alien craft is orbiting the earth.” The National Enquirer article, written by Los Angeles based
Henry Gris, claimed that both the Russians and Americans had spotted the craft as well as debris from the
ship, which appeared to be damaged and free floating in orbit around earth. Of course after the headline,
everyone with a telescope went looking for the object in the night sky, but not even the so called
professional space observation teams from the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer
Space, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), or the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory could espy the mysterious satellite. One of Gris’s American sources, John P. Bagby later
claimed he had never spoken to Gris, plus an article Gris claimed Bagby had written on the UFO in a
January 1969 issue of the Icarus, appears to not even exist. Scientist Jean Meeus further discredited Gris,
specifically concerning his claims of the orbital route. Gris’s Russian sources included Aleksey Zolotov,
who was a proponent of the Ancient Alien Theory and the crashed UFO theory as concerns the 1908
Tunguska, Siberian Explosion. Gris also quoted a supposed remark made by Russian Astrophysicist
Sergey Bozhich as well as remarks supposedly made by Vladimir Azhazha and Aleksandr Kazantsev, the
latter whom Gris quoted as saying “the craft was at least 200 feet in length and up to 100 feet in width.”

In 1988, there was a resurgence of interest in the Black Knight Satellite when John A. Keel wrote
Disneyland of the Gods. Keel claimed to be a Fortean, but despite this his book as well as others he wrote
had little to no footnotes, resources, or bibliographies, which is very unlike true Forteans. Like Donald
Keyhoe, Keel was also known to twist or over hype facts, especially in his best known hit The Mothman

In 1998, while on flight STS-88, the crew from the Space Shuttle Endeavour, photographed a UFO
or unknown satellite in an unusually low orbit, though it was not described as a polar orbit. These pictures
were released by NASA to the public, but then went missing and cropped up again on the internet. The
object’s looks have been equated with being a space version of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. Most claim the
strange looking UFO to be a thermal blanket or a Trunnion Pin Thermal Cover that astronaut Jerry Ross
had lost during an Extravehicular Activity (EVA), bent on attaching the Russian Zarya module to the
American Unity module, in order to create the first International Space Station. Spacewalkers and two                                                         antenna spools were also released into space. Several hoaxed photographs of the object turned up, in
which the object was pasted next to the Endeavor or onto a different background in association with Earth
seen below it. There are several reports that the object seen in the real stills from the video taken by the
Endeavor, is changing shape and morphing slightly, which would possibly give some credence to the idea
that it’s a flexible blanket. The video was taking over an approximately two minute period, so the blanket
wouldn’t have to be manipulated by space very quickly. However, the shape isn’t necessarily morphing or
changing at all, but may simply be a free floating solid object and thus we get different angles of the
object, which could possibly allow us to get a pretty good idea of the three dimensional aspects of the
object. Others have claimed that the thermal blanket would’ve fallen out of orbit and been burnt up before
it was sighted by the STS-88.


There has been no efficient evidence to connect the LDEs of Nikola Tesla and those received in the
20s and 60s, with the sightings of unidentified satellites beginning in the 1950s, which appear to be quite
genuine and unexplainable, however the claimed sightings of UFOs “shadowing” the Sputniks is hardly
confirmed. As to the newspaper articles written in the 50s and 60s, they were actually for the most part if
not entirely rewritten accounts from the well known UFO author Donald Keyhoe and ultimately, the
Times article from 1960 that is so veraciously quoted, was reporting on a single incident that they never
connected to the Black Knight Satellite and they stated that the mystery concerning the origin of this
unidentified satellite was resolved. Indeed, the Eisenhower paperwork that was marked top secret may
have even existed, but he was simply fed the preliminary, false information like everyone else. Later,
scientists actually took the time to positively identify the object and make a final report about not having
to worrying about their first report.

The work of Duncan Lunan is ludicrous and he later retracted it, which gave us the idea and date of
a 13,000 year old, alien probe. The sighting and photographs taken of a UFO in 1998 by the Space Shuttle
Endeavour, can in no way be connected with the original sightings of the Black Knight Satellite of the 50s
and 60s, but taking the object on its own, it could indeed be the thermal cover described in the “official”
explanation, but it could also be a solid, orbiting UFO.

In various online articles on the Black Knight Satellite, people are veering off to numerous rabbit
holes that have little to do with the subject. They begin talking about UFOs in general, the Ancient
Astronaut Theory of Erich von Daniken, Philip K. Dick’s alien contact experiences while in an altered
mental status, or even “the Monolith,” supposedly photographed in detail by Apollo X and later brought
back to earth by a space shuttle, before they were officially being used. Some have even claimed that
Arthur C. Clarke had somehow gotten secret information on the Black Knight Satellite and the Monolith,
which inspired him to write some of his science fiction stories. In most of these online articles there are
lines repeated word for word or paragraph for paragraph throughout those websites that mention the
Black Knight, revealing clear signs of copying and pasting.

It is the constant habit of conspiracy theorists in this field to claim any unidentified satellite to be
the Black Knight. Take Cooper’s sighting of a green, glowing UFO that bears no resemblance to the STS-
88 sightings. One of them, at the least, definitely isn’t the Black Knight, yet some claim both are. It is
highly likely that the entire idea of the Black Knight Satellite is a jumbled up mix of random UFO and
unidentified satellite sightings, which were probably for the most part different objects that had no
connection to each other. These are a bunch of dots that cannot be connected in any creditable fashion.
Some of these sightings may have been real, indeed, we cannot discount, just like in the UFO Phenomena,
the fact of secret man made craft. In this case as an example, America supposedly launched a secret
Satellite in 1990, named the USA-53 or the Misty Satellite that had a very odd cone like shape. The
Soviet Union no doubt launched similar secret satellites for the purposes of surveillance. The Black
Knight Satellite appears to be a mythos created from a series of seemingly unrelated events, but taking the
events by themselves as they are, they remain a mystery as most other UFO sightings have in the past.


Writer Bio: Wolf Garner is a researcher and believer of strange phenomena and the paranormal, focusing on the                                            even lesser known stories in the fields. He is also an avid reader of history, focusing on the tribal, nomadic, and barbarian                      cultures of the ancient past. He resides in Northern Idaho, where he enjoys camping, bushcraft, and Islay Whiskey.


The Black Knight Satellite is a subject that appeared mostly in newspaper articles, many of which
are confirmable online. There are also several online essays on the subject. James Oberg’s tend to be the
better ones and he has written a book on space exploration myths, though it is slightly outdated. Another
good article on the subject is by Brian Dunning, which appeared as a podcast in Skeptoid Podcast #365.
Though the podcast is extremely dry, the article itself contains some useful information.

Crippled UFO?: The Case of the Phantom Spacecraft by James Oberg (1980)
The Black Knight Satellite by Brian Dunning (June 4 th , 2013)
The Black Knight Satellite, Bracewell Probes, and Philip K. Dick by Martin J. Clemens (Feb. 21 st , 2014)
STS-88 and the Black Knight by James Oberg (Oct. 21 st , 2014)
The Strange, Sordid History of the ‘Black Knight Satellite’ by Micah Hanks (July 6 th , 2016)
The Black Knight Satellite: Sentinel From Space (From the Unredacted Website)
Aliens from Space by Donald Keyhoe (1973)
UFO’s and Outer Space Mysteries by James Oberg (1982)
Disneyland of the Gods by John A. Keel (1988)

Shannon LeGro

Author Shannon LeGro

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