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The Black Knight Satellite Myth

By James Donahue

After decades of firing and test firing rockets carrying men, satellites and a variety of scientific probes into space, the Earth is surrounded by thousands of pieces of space debris mixed with both dead and working satellites. Among this circling junk, many researchers believe, is a mystery satellite known as the Black Knight.

The Black Knight has a long history. It was observed and photographed by some of the first American astronauts to go into space. Its size, odd shape, and strange polar orbital pattern have ruled out the possibility that it is a space rock. Some have suggested that it has been in orbit around Earth for perhaps thousands of years and may even be of alien origin.

Donald Keyhoe, a pioneer in American UFO research, published books and was quoted in stories that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and San Francisco Examiner in 1954, as saying he believed the U.S. Air Force detected two satellites in orbit around the Earth. This was four years before the Russians launched the first known satellite, the tiny Sputnik radio transmitter that went into low Earth orbit in October, 1957.

That year, Dr. Luis Corralos of the Communications Ministry in Venezuela photographed the mystery satellite while taking pictures of Sputnik as it passed over Caracas.

Sputnik, which occurred during the height of the Cold War, triggered what became the great "space race" between Russia and the United States which was highlighted by American astronauts landing on the Moon.

Early in the space program, however, in March, 1960, Time Magazine published a story detailing the military's "Dark Fence" radar program. This program was designed to monitor all satellite objects circling the Earth, and keep on top of any secret programs being developed not only in Russia and the United States, but from all over the world. What was interesting about the Time story is that just three weeks before the story was published, the Dark Fence program detected an "object" orbiting over the United States. It was dubbed a "dark satellite" that seemed to have been man-made although it was too large to have been launched by any known rockets either Russia or the United States had at that time.

It was generally agreed that whatever that object was, neither Russia or the United States put it in orbit. While both countries were experimenting with sub-orbital missions in those years, it wasn't until February, 1962, that astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in a projected space capsule.

Yet in September, 1960, a camera at the Grumman Aircraft Corporation's Long Island factory captured an image of that "dark satellite" recorded in the Time Magazine story and hinted at by Keyhoe's articles.

Then on May 15, 1963, Astronaut Gordon Cooper actually saw the object while riding the last capsule in the Mercury program which completed 22 orbits of the planet before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. Cooper described it as much larger than any other man-made satellite of that time. He said it glowed a neon green.

Somewhere during all of these early sightings, and the realization that we had a strange big satellite of unknown origin circling our planet, the nickname Black Knight was tagged.

More pictures of the Black Knight were captured by the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1998. By now the UFO craze was going to the extreme, with stories of abductions, alien encounters and of-course the Roswell incident making headlines in newspapers and especially pulp magazines. And the Black Knight was a growing enigma.

In addition to photographs of the Black Knight, many HAM radio operators and even astronomers claim to have received strange radio signals from space that they suspect are coming from this mystery satellite. 

Duncan Lunan, a Scottish HAM radio buff and author of science fiction, said in an article published in Spaceflight magazine that he captured and interpreted a signal from an alien probe in orbit around Earth. He said the same signal had been detected by others as early as the 1920s. He said the message read as follows:

"Start here. Our home is Upsilon Bootes, which is a double star. We live on the sixth planet of seven, coming from the sun, which is the larger of the two. Our sixth planet has one moon. Our fourth planet has three. Our first and third planets each have one. Our probe is in the position of Arcturus, known in our maps."

Is the Lunan story a hoax or is it a message from the Black Knight satellite? Some writers theorize that the Black Knight has been orbiting Earth for a very long time . . . possibly thousands of years.