Summary: After personally reviewing the video of events, some of which were obtained from the official NASA video archive, I can only surmise that the events are indeed anomalous and unexplained. The official NASA explanation of ice and debris seems unlikely due to the different directions and speeds the objects appear to be traveling. The following is a chronology of the anomalous events of STS-48
The anomalous events during the shuttle Discovery mission STS-48 (launched September 12, 1991) were originally revealed by space enthusiasts who had set their VCRs to record NASA Select TV, which at the time was downlinked live from each shuttle mission and distributed on cable and satellite TV. To record as much as possible, VCRs were set to record at slow speed (six hour recordings) which resulted in less than optimal recordings. When the recordings were reviewed, anomalous objects were seen at several points in the mission.
Although the existence of these recordings have been known to MUFON and FUFOR since the fall of 1991, surprisingly, they were not made public until Don Ecker appeared on "HardCopy," and later, "Larry King Live" with a poor copy of what has been termed Event 2 in June of this year.
After personally reviewing the video of Events 1,2,3,4 and 6, some of which were obtained from the official NASA video archive, I can only surmise that the events are indeed anomalous and unexplained. The official NASA explanation of ice and debris seems unlikely due to the different directions and speeds the objects appear to be traveling.
The following is a chronology of the anomalous events of STS-48:
EVENT 1 (9-13-91 / between 03:49 - 04:10 GMT)
The camera shows a beautiful view from the forward cabin looking back through the cargo bay at the tail section with the Earth filling the top of the screen. One-by-one, a series of five lights travel radially from behind the tail section, comprising an arc. Then an extremely bright blinking light appears, traveling up from behind the left engine. This bright light occupies the focus of the arc composed of the five smaller lights.
Then the camera inexplicably pans down into the cargo bay, focusing on a piece of equipment there. After a minute, the ground controller requests that she be given control of the camera. After a short pause, the astronaut complies. The camera then pans back up into the tail area. The lights that were there just moments before are now gone.
EVENT 2 (9-15-91 / between 20:30 - 20:45 GMT)
This scene shows the nightside Earth filling most of the frame with the horizon extending from the upper left of screen to the lower right. Black space is seen above the horizon at the screen's upper right. Clouds, bright city lights on the surface, and an intense lightning storm can be seen. The atmosphere is slightly luminescent at the limb and is clearly discernible. Against this background, several lighted objects can be seen traveling slowly, apparently above the atmosphere. One of the larger objects (2A - see Event2a.gif above) appears and slowly moves across the sky below. Another large object (2F) appears near the center of the screen, either traveling up through the atmosphere from below, or through it at the limb and traveling towards the shuttle. This object travels slowly, parallel to the horizon, from lower right to upper left.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light fills the screen. As the flash diminishes, two odd streaks of light emanate from the left. The object traveling parallel to the horizon executes an acute (less than 90 degree) turn and shoots off into space, dimming as it recedes. The upper of the two streaks would have intercepted the object traveling along the horizon if it had stayed on its course without making its sudden turn. The bottom streak shoots off towards the right of the screen. Throughout Event 2, other lighted objects move across the field of view at varying speeds and headings.
Note: The official NASA explanation for this event is that ice crystals are being propelled by a shuttle attitude thruster being fired. The fact that the Earth does not appear to shift in the frame indicates that the shuttle's attitude is not changed and therefore, no thruster is being fired during this event.
EVENT 3 (9-16-91 / 08:40 - 09:10 GMT)
This scene shows the sunlit Earth filling the screen. Other than cloud formations, no surface details are discernible. This clip can only be described as chaotic. There are dozens of objects streaking in every direction. Although sizes and distances cannot be calculated from the video alone, many of these objects appear to be descending into, and flying through the atmosphere. There is a similar streak as in Event 2 that intercepts one of the objects. After about 30- 45 seconds of this, a larger elliptical white object appears in the extreme upper left corner of the frame. This object is visible for only 5-6 frames before another camera is switched on showing the side of the shuttle with empty black space in the background.
Note: Again, there is no apparent change in the shuttle's orientation during this event, indicating that no thruster is being fired. Chronologically, Event 3 occurs after Event 4. The numbering system developed before all video was available to researchers.
EVENT 4 (9-15-91 / between 19:00 - 19:10 GMT)
While few details of the objects were apparent to me, researcher Vince DiPietro reports that a large bell-shaped object appears, and that other objects move from the bottom to the top of the screen. His analysis allegedly reveals that several of these objects have an oblong shape, with sections of the objects appearing to rotate at high speed.
EVENT 5 (Video, date and time unavailable)
According to Vince DiPietro, a large "tubular shaped" object moves from right to left. Also, DiPietro reports that a pulsating light is seen at the top of the screen
Note: HUFON Report has not seen video of Event 5. According to our source, Ron Madeley, this event has been expunged from the official NASA STS-48 video archive, leaving a 14 minute gap in the video's time code. If this is true, it would be irrefutable evidence of a NASA cover-up.
EVENT 6 (Date and time unavailable)
The sunlit Earth fills the screen, with no surface details (other than clouds) discernible. A bright object enters the frame at left center and zips across the screen at high speed. When played in normal mode, the object seems to be a white light traveling in a smooth trajectory. When advanced frame-by-frame, the object changes color from red to green to white. Instead of a smooth trajectory, the object can be seen to travel in short, discrete steps, with the aforementioned color changes cycling during each step. The object seems to disappear while actually moving between each step.
As a lifelong supporter of our space exploration efforts I have observed many hours of NASA footage. Never have I seen events such as those recorded by STS-48. Lighted objects could most certainly be debris or ice crystals illuminated by the sun, however, I can conceive of no possible scenario that could explain the objects that are travelling in opposite directions. Presumably, thruster plumes should propel debris in one direction only. Another potential explanation would be meteor storms or space debris from previous launches. But again, these explanations cannot account for the observed trajectories .
According to our source, NASA no longer distributes a live downlink from shuttle missions, instead using a delay similar to that used by talk radio stations to censor offensive remarks. Sanitizing video downlink from shuttle missions, and deleting sections of the official archives is not in the interest of the taxpayers who fund NASA. The need for further official scientific inquiry is obvious.
In the meantime, the anomalous events recorded by Discovery astronauts during STS-48 can only be classified as UFOs, in the strict sense of the term.
Note: Vince DiPietro's report to FUFOR (the Fund For UFO Research) provided the descriptions of events for which video was unavailable to HUFON Report. Interestingly, DiPietro, a NASA employee at the Goddard Space Flight Center now publicly endorses the "ice crystal" explanation.