Summary: Section from the Condon Report detailing three sightings of UFOs by astronauts. 'There are three visual sightings made by the astronauts while in orbit which, in the judgment of the writer, have not been adequately explained.'
There are three visual sightings made by the astronauts while in orbit which, in the judgment of the writer, have not been adequately explained. These are:
Gemini 4, astronaut McDivitt. Observation of a cylindrical object with a protuberance.
Gemini 4, astronaut McDivitt. Observation of a moving bright light at a higher level than the Gemini spacecraft.
Gemini 7, astronaut Borman saw what he referred to as a "bogey" flying in formation with the spacecraft.
1. Gemini 4, cylindrical object with protuberance.
Astronaut McDivitt described seeing at 3:00 CST, on 4 June 1965, a cylindrical object that appeared to have arms sticking out, a description suggesting a spacecraft with an antenna.
I had a conversation with astronaut McDivitt on 3 October 1967, about this sighting and reproduce here my summary of the conversation.
McDivitt saw a cylindrical-shaped object with an antenna-like extension. The appearance was something like the second phase of a Titan (not necessarily implying that that is actually what be saw) It was not possible to estimate its distance but it did have angular extension, that is it did not appear as a "point." It gave a white or silvery appearance as seen against the day sky. The spacecraft was in free drifting flight somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. One still picture was taken plus some movie exposures on black and white film. The impression was not that the object was moving parallel with the spacecraft but rather that it was closing in and that it was nearby. The reaction of the astronaut was that it might be necessary to take action to avoid a collision. The object was lost to view when the sun shone on the window (which was rather dirty). He tried to get the object back into view by maneuvering so the sun was not on the window but was not able to pick it up again.
When they landed , the film was sent from the carrier to land and was not seen again by McDivitt for four days. The NASA photo interpreter had released three or four pictures but McDivitt says that the pictures released were definitely not of the object he had seen. His personal inspection of the film later revealed what he bad seen although the quality of the image and of the blown-up point was such that the object was seen only "hazily" against the sky. But he feels that a positive identification had been made.
It is McDivitt's opinion that the object was probably some unmanned satellite. NORAD made an investigation of possible satellites and came up with the suggestion that the object might have been Pegasus which was 1200 miles away at the time. McDivitt questions this identification.
The NORAD computer facility's determination of the distances from GT-4 to other known objects in space at the time of the astronaut McDivitt's sighting yielded the following tabulation.
A preliminary identification of the object as Pegasus B is suspect. When fully extended Pegasus B has a maximum dimension of 29.3 meters, which corresponds to 1/20 minute of arc at a distance of 2000 km. This is much too small an angular extension for the structure of the craft to be resolved and thus does not agree with the description of "arms sticking out." Later in the mission Pegasus B was at a much more favorable distance (497 km.) from the Gemini 4 spacecraft or four times as close as during, the reported sighting. Astronauts McDivitt and White reported that they were not successful in a serious attempt to visually identify the Pegasus B satellite during this encounter.
The ten objects in addition to Pegasus B in the NORAD list were all at considerably greater distances away from GT-4 than an admittedly crude estimate of 10 miles (16 km.) made by McDivitt, and were of the same or smaller size than Pegasus B. They would not appear to be likely candidates for the object sighted by the astronaut.
2. Gemini 4, moving bright light, higher than spacecraft.
At 50h 58m 03s of elapsed time of GT-4, astronaut McDivitt made the following report.
Just saw a satellite, very high . . . spotted away just like a star on the ground when you see one go by, a long, long ways away. When I saw this satellite go by we were pointed just about directly overhead. It looked like it was going from left to right . . . back toward the west, so it must have been going from south to north.
Although McDivitt referred to this sighting as a satellite, I have included it among the puzzlers because it was higher than the GT-4 and moving in a polar orbit. It was reported as looking like a "star" so we have no indication of an angular extension.
The suggestion at the time of sighting that this was a satellite has not been confirmed, so far as I know, by a definite identification of a known satellite.
Conversations with McDivitt indicate that, on one other occasion, off the coast of China, he saw a "light" that was moving with respect to the star background. No details could be made out by him.
3. Gemini 7, "bogey."
Portions of the transcript (CT 7/6, tape 51, pages 4,5,6) from Gemini 7 are reproduced here. The following conversation took place between the spacecraft and the ground control at Houston and referred to a sighting at the start of the second revolution of the flight:
Spacecraft: Gemini 7 here, Houston how do you read?
Capcom: Loud and clear. 7, go ahead.
Spacecraft: Bogey at 10 o'clock high.
Capcom: This is Houston. Say again 7.
Spacecraft: Said we have a bogey at 10 o'clock high.
Capcom: Roger. Gemini 7., is that the booster or is that an actual sighting'?
Spacecraft: We have several, looks like debris up here. Actual sighting.
Capcom: You have any more information? Estimate distance or size?
Spacecraft: We also have the booster in sight.
Capcom: Understand you also have the booster in sight, Roger.
Spacecraft: Yea, we have a very, very many -- look like hundreds of little particles banked on the left out about 3 to 7 miles.
Capcom: Understand you have many small particles going by on the left. At what distance?
Spacecraft: Oh about -- it looks like a path of the vehicle at 90 degrees.
Capcom: Roger, understand that they are about 3 to 4 miles away.
Spacecraft: They are passed now they are in polar orbit.
Capcom: Roger, understand they were about 3 or 4 miles away.
Spacecraft: That's what it appeared like. That's roger.
Capcom: Were these particles in addition to the booster and the bogey at 10 o'clock high?
Spacecraft: Roger -- Spacecraft (Lovell) I have the booster on my side, it's a brilliant body in the sun, against a black background with trillions of particles on it.
Capcom: Roger. What direction is it from you?
Spacecraft: It's about at my 2 o'clock position. (Lovell)
Capcom: Does that mean that it's ahead of you?
Spacecraft: It's ahead of us at 2 o'clock, slowly tumbling.
The general reconstruction of the sighting based on the above conversation is that in addition to the booster travelling in an orbit similar to that of the spacecraft there was another bright object (bogey) together with many illuminated particles. It might be conjectured that the bogey and particles were fragments from the launching of Gemini 7, but this is impossible if they were travelling in a polar orbit as they appeared to the astronauts to be doing.
The three unexplained sightings which have been gleaned from a great mass of reports are a challenge to the analyst. Especially puzzling is the first one on the list, the daytime sighting of an object showing details such as arms (antennas?) protruding from a body having a noticeable angular extension. If the NORAD listing of objects near the GT-4 spacecraft at the time of the sighting is complete as it presumably is, we shall have to find a rational explanation or, alternatively, keep it on our list of unidentifieds.