NASA Black Knight Satellite
In 1998, NASA released a photograph of black space debris over Earth’s orbit. After studying the photo, conspiracy theorists and ufologists disagreed with NASA’s claims regarding space debris, but rather stated that the photo was of an ancient extraterrestrial spacecraft in near-polar orbit.
The conspiracy theories consist of multiple different stories from various scholars, but the most popular claims that the photo is of an artificial extraterrestrial satellite, most commonly used with the term “Black Knight.” Some claim the ship may be up to 13,000 years old. Theorists also link the photo to natural extraterrestrial repeating radio sources heard by scientist Nikola Tesla in 1899 and Jorgen Hals in 1928. The two heard unexplained radio from their radio experiments and observations. Tesla recorded an Astronomical Radio Source, which is any object from outer space that emits significant radio signals from one or multiple sources. Jorgen Hals, an amateur radio operator, claimed he heard long delayed echoes (LDE’s) coming from outer space, which occur after a radio transmission has been sent. The theorists connect the two unsolved radio observations to be evidence that the 1998 photo is in fact an artificial satellite.
NASA scientists and other experts dismiss the claims due to the lack of evidence and an unorganized mix of stories coming from the theorists. Martina Redpath, a Senior Education Support Officer at the Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland said,
“Black Knight is a jumble of completely unrelated stories; reports of unusual science observations, authors promoting fringe ideas, classified spy satellites and people over-interpreting photos. These ingredients have been chopped up, stirred together and stewed on the internet to one rambling and inconsistent dollop of myth.”
Her quote does address the dozens of additional claims that are supposedly linked to the Black Knight Satellite. Other less popular pieces of evidence that were used by ufologists include: The British Black Knight Rocket Program 1958-1965, a 1960 U.S. Navy report of a suspected Soviet Satellite, and UFO claims from US astronaut Gordon Cooper while on his Mercury 9 orbit.
The story and claims lack significant evidence, but so does NASA. The only official response came from journalist James Oberg, who says the photo was a thermal blanket lost during extravehicular activity, but the shape of the black debris from the photo does not represent that of a blanket. Today, NASA still has not officially said anything else regarding the Black Knight Satellite or 1998 photograph.