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Did NASA videotape a UFO?

Did NASA Videotape A UFO
STS-48 - Index

The Shuttle Discovery: Encounter In Space? - Transcript of the Larry King Live show
where Don Ecker and James Oberg discuss the STS-48 incident

Simplified Diagram of STS-48 Event 2

The Strange Case of STS-48 - by David Mayo

The Anomalous Events of STS-48 - by Vince Johnson

STS-48 (The Video ) A Closer Look, and Second Thoughts - by Thomas E. Carey

The Shuttle Discovery: Encounter In Space?

Source: Larry King Live

LARRY KING: Welcome back to Larry King Live.

A camera aboard the space shuttle Discovery recorded a curious sight nine months ago. Some UFO researchers are calling it a breakthrough video: a clear view of a craft, not one of ours, performing a high-speed maneuver. Others, with years in the space program, say it's just plain old debris. Judge for yourself.

The mission was STS-48, flown in September of last year. As Discovery circled the Earth, the camera picks up what looks like an object drifting from right to left, then suddenly and strangely veering off to the right and out of view, followed by what looks like a tracer or laser from the bottom to the top of the screen. Another, closer look: The object appears to change direction. NASA says it was waste water dumped from Discovery. UFO enthusiasts disagree and claim NASA has long hidden the full extent of outer space UFO encounters.

With us from Los Angeles - Don Ecker of UFO Magazine. In Houston - space engineer and author, James Oberg, who worked on ground communications for this shuttle mission, the one in question. Don, why are you so sure this is a UFO?

DON ECKER, `UFO' Magazine: Well, it certainly has all the appearances, Larry, of being something that is unidentified. It certainly appears to be flying. And we do not normally associate waste water - or, as some pundits are calling it, urine in space - to make drastic right-angle turns.

KING: Why would NASA want to hide it?

ECKER: Why would the United States Government want to keep this subject under wraps for 45 years? That's an excellent question.

KING: Why?

ECKER: Well, we could certainly go into the realm of speculation-

KING: I mean, the Government denies it, so you're going to have to tell me why you think they hide it.

ECKER: OK. Well, to begin with, I have a couple of questions that I want to address to Jim first, Larry, that I think are germane. To begin with, good evening, Jim. And I have a couple of questions. To begin with, what capacity are you here in this evening? Are you here-

KING: Hold it. They're straightening out Jim's microphone. So let me get straight with you and then they'll let me know and we'll be ready to take that through. When you saw these tapes for the first time, were you just feeding your own, for want of a better term, frenzy, something you'd been wrapped up with for a long time? Or did you turn this over for analysis? Did you look at it? Did you investigate their explanation?

ECKER: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I have the documents with me with what NASA had claimed that these particular anomalous objects are. There are several events on this particular tape that originally came from a cable television channel back in the Maryland area that downlinked it on the NASA K-band. Basically, this was event number two, which shows a number of anomalous objects in this particular segment of footage, and there are a number of things that just simply don't stack up with what NASA is claiming that these things are. If you watch the entire segment, you will notice that several moments after this particular event happens, NASA begins preparing for the waste water dump.

KING: OK, now, James are you with us now? Are we clicked in OK?

JAMES OBERG, Space Engineer: That's fine. We can talk to outer space OK, but I had a problem with your-

KING: OK, that's James Oberg, space engineer and author. He worked on flight control for the shuttle mission. And you say this is not phenomena, right?

OBERG: It's a phenomenon that's very familiar. Larry, we see this since the fireflies on John Glenn's flight 30 years ago. Spacecraft are surrounded by clouds of debris - ice, dust, insulation, and other fragments. These pieces - and I've seen these tapes and I've seen hundreds of hours of tapes like that - are fairly ordinary phenomena.

KING: OK, Don has a couple of quick questions for you. Don?

ECKER: Yes. Jim, what capacity are you here in this evening? Are you here as a civilian? Are you here as a representative of Lockheed-

OBERG: I'm not representing-

ECKER: -or of NASA?

OBERG: Don, don't give loaded questions, here. I have no connection with Lockheed. I'm a space nut. I'm interested in outer space myths and folklore-

ECKER: So in other words, you're here on your own accord?

KING: Yes, in other words, James, you're not here representing NASA, right?

OBERG: I'll play it back, Don. I'm not here as editor of a magazine trying to sell subscriptions.

KING: OK, no, James-

ECKER: OK, let me ask you this-

KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it-

ECKER: Let me ask you this-

KING: Hold it, hold it-

ECKER: James-

KING: Don- Don- Don, hold it. It's my show. James, you're not here as a representative of NASA, right?

OBERG: No. No, I have written on this subject for a long time.

KING: OK. Did you work on this mission?

OBERG: Yes, I did.

KING: In what capacity?

OBERG: I was in the flight control center, part of helping the deployment of one of the satellites. So I was there for-

KING: Are you a contracted employee to NASA?

OBERG: Yes. Yes, I am. Yes, I am.

KING: OK, but tonight you appear as James Oberg, space engineer-

OBERG: That's right.

KING: -not representing NASA?

OBERG: That's correct.

ECKER: All right, Larry, I have one more question for Jim-

KING: OK, now, go ahead, Don. Go ahead.

ECKER: Yes, I have one more question for him. Jim, are you working here under the constraints of any security agreements that you may have signed with NASA?

OBERG: No, I'm not. Myself's not the issue. The issue are these pictures and the big deal people are making out of it.

ECKER: Well, this is a simple question, Jim. Are you working under security constraints?

KING: All right, no, James, that's a fair question. Did you sign any kind of an agreement with NASA not to reveal certain things?

OBERG: DOD material, yes. This is not, and this is not covered. Nothing about this material is covered-

ECKER: All right, let me- One last question, Jim-

KING: `DOD' means Department of Defense material?

OBERG: Department of Defense, that's right.

KING: OK. Go ahead, Don.

ECKER: One last question, and this question is very simple. With the security agreements that you have signed, before we start addressing this particular segment of footage, if you had any awareness of anomalous objects, would you be free to talk about them? And I'm talking about anomalous objects that are not our debris or our spacecraft.

OBERG: I am totally free to talk about these kinds of topics, anything seen on the shuttle. I have talked about it. I have a long history of writing for Omni Magazine and other magazines and books-

ECKER: Well, no, no, no, that's not what I'm saying-

OBERG: -because it's clear-

ECKER: You're usually on-

OBERG: I'm giving you an expert opinion-

KING: Don, Don, Don- Hold it. Guys, hold it. This is not a trial, Don. He answered the question. If it was not a Defense Department fear, he could talk about anything. Now, would you briefly, James-

OBERG: There was nothing on STS-48 that was classified, nothing on that flight.

KING: All right. Would you tell us, you are convinced beyond question that this is debris?

OBERG: This looks just like it. Now, it could be someone masquerading at it. Look at those pieces. They're small pieces. Why is it that we see these- It's always small pieces, just at the limit of the cameras. There are always pieces like that floating around. When jets fire, when things leak out or are expelled from the shuttle, the jets hit pieces. They change direction. I've seen it- I wouldn't say hundreds of times, but I've seen it before on other missions.

KING: Don, what do you think it is? If it's a UFO, what is it, Don?

ECKER: Well, to begin with, Larry-

KING: I mean, why don't they land here and talk to us?

ECKER: If, in fact, it were debris- And Jim is very well aware that debris will tumble, will toss, will turn while in orbit. The close-up digitally-enhanced segment of this particular footage shows absolutely no tumbling motion, whatsoever. This is moving in a straight line. It makes a drastic right-angle turn, shoots off into space. Now, if, in fact, it were a result-

OBERG: Don's got to watch some more tapes. He's got to watch a few hundred more hours of tapes and he'll see this all the time.

ECKER: If, in fact, Jim- Just a moment. If, in fact, it were a piece of debris and if the attitude thrusters from the shuttle had been fired, then, the way the camera was set up on that particular mission, the entire shuttle picture would have moved, because it did several moments after this particular incident.

OBERG: I'm just amazed how much Don can learn about the space program from so many thousands of miles away from Mission Control. These are the kinds of things-

ECKER: Well, if, in fact, Jim, we're going to talk about this, fine. If we're going to start ad hominem attacks, that's something else.

OBERG: All right, let's go back to the films.

KING: We'll come right back with James Oberg and Don Ecker. We'll also include your phone calls on this extraordinary topic that never goes away. This is Larry King Live. Don't you go away. {Commercial break}

KING: Let's start to include your phone calls for Don Ecker - he's a researcher with UFO Magazine - and James Oberg, space engineer and author. Huntsville, Alabama - famous area for outer space - hello. 4th CALLER: {Huntsville, Alabama} Hello?

KING: Yes.

4th CALLER: My name is O.H. Bond, Jr. {sp?}. I'm in Huntsville, Alabama.

KING: Yes, sir.

4th CALLER: I have an experiment on the shuttle which has flown a number of times called the Mesoscale Lightning Experiment {sp?}, in which we look for mesoscale lightning and we look for the effects of unusual events which occur in space.

KING: And?

4th CALLER: Particularly, we look for lightning events which we've seen to go 20 miles straight up into the stratosphere from cloud stocks.

KING: Meaning?

4th CALLER: The question I want to ask you guys is- With respect to these flying objects, I agree with James Oberg. From what I have seen over numbers of years of looking at video images, this is debris from the spacecraft, as far as I can determine. And the second thing is I believe that many of the objects we see are the other debris which is in orbit.

KING: Don?

ECKER: I would have to ask, Larry, that if, in fact, this is the case that this was debris from the shuttle, why is it not tumbling? Why did it make such a drastic turn? The fact that NASA claims-

OBERG: Can I answer that? If you give me some time, I can answer that.

ECKER: Well, the question was addressed to me first, and I'm asking the question, Jim, and then you can go to it.

OBERG: And you'll make sure that you don't- You don't want the answer.

KING: All right, but it's a fair question that Don puts, and let Jim respond to it. Why would a piece of debris move like that? I've never seen debris move like that.

OBERG: Well, you have to- People can watch this. As the shuttle is going through orbit, people don't realize there are more than 50 points on the nose of the shuttle, the tail, on the side- more than 50 points where debris, water, ice, come off- from the belly. And as these pieces come off and rocket engines can fire, they'll form what are called plumes. They'll form a blast. And as debris will go into that area, they will turn, and you can watch this. Fortunately, we have on the SATCOM F2R satellite and on many, many cable networks the NASA select from space flight. It's the reason that these people saw this tape in the first place. I would simply recommend that they and anyone else watch that tape for more than a few hours. Watch it for several years, in terms of the missions. And they'll be seeing this kind of event. But the thing about why these are just debris and not spacecraft, alien spacecraft- They're always small. They're always just at the limit of the camera.

KING: But you don't know-

OBERG: No matter how much the camera is zoomed in, it's still just a dot-

KING: James, this isn't 100 percent-

OBERG: -and that just tells you these are little pieces.

KING: You don't know it for sure, but it's your best educated guess, right?

OBERG: I'll tell you, if we saw some real spacecraft- If I saw some real spacecraft - and I know many people in the space program - saw something out there that could be really proof of something revolutionary, there's no power on earth that would be able to stop people from coming out and being on your show-

ECKER: Larry, one thing-

KING: All right, let me get a call in. Sykesville, Maryland, hello.

5th CALLER: {Sykesville, Maryland} Hello, this is Vincent DiPietro.

KING: Yes.

5th CALLER: From Sykesville, Maryland.

KING: Yes.

5th CALLER: I originally did an analysis of this very tape that you're showing on TV.

KING: Uh-huh.

5th CALLER: And I'd like to make a few comments about this.

KING: Are you a scientist?

5th CALLER: I work at Goddard Space Flight Center. I'm an engineer.


5th CALLER: I work with the space program.

KING: All right.

5th CALLER: But I'm doing this freelance. And I'd like to say that I've sent this to a number of scientists, called a number of engineers, and they've all described this event as ice.

KING: Ice?

5th CALLER: Ice, that has turned in a way- If you look at the other debris that's on the screen, you'll see that in every case there is a right-angle turn that is made of this debris. In other words, it's not-

ECKER: Well, Vince- Vince, let me ask you a question, because I have the entire tape. And I also have the section that you digitally enhanced that shows clearly a domed disc object that was recorded on this mission. Do you deny that?

5th CALLER: I see that on there, and I do not know what that is.

ECKER: Did you digitally enhance it?

5th CALLER: Yes.

ECKER: OK. Did it look to you like an anomalous object, or did it look like debris or ice?

5th CALLER: It looks like an object, but I can't explain what it is. And I'm not saying that it isn't something that you're describing. The only thing I'm saying is that the explanation that I have gotten is that this debris is ice. There's no way of determining how big it is. It could be a microinch, a couple of inches. It's certainly not several hundred feet across, as a lot of people would be led to believe. And the explanation I got was that there were rockets, little tiny rockets, that are used to change the attitude of the spacecraft on the sides; that when those things go off- It's nitric acid and hydrozene that fires these rockets. When they go off-

ECKER: Yes, and there is no flash, either, is there, Vince?

5th CALLER: There is a flash that you can see at the beginning. And if you are so careful as to take a piece of cellophane and put it onto your TV set, you will see that all of these objects- Not the ones that are stars, because the stars you can clearly see go behind the horizon. But if you look at the debris that flies from left to right and so forth, everything makes a right-hand turn. It's even less-

ECKER: Well, Vince, since you worked on this particular piece of footage, let me ask you another question. Before this event happens, this object rises up out of the blackness and is traveling from right to upper left. Now, if, in fact, it was there prior to the start of this sequence, how do you explain that?

5th CALLER: I explain that in this way. If you listen {sp?} to the tape carefully, you will see that the spacecraft is just coming out of twilight into sunlight. Now, if there was debris flying around in the blackness of space, you would not see it until it was lit up.

KING: OK. All right, we're going to have to do some more on this-

OBERG: Or it might have come over the payload bay where the lights are. Either way, that would explain it.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come right back. Thanks for calling, Vince, by the way. We'll come back with more. This is fascinating - I don't understand it, but it's fascinating! Don't go away. {Commercial break}

KING: All right, we're running close on time. Don, are we ever going to see one of these land on the White House lawn and speak to us?

ECKER: Well, I don't know about landing on the White House lawn, Larry, but we had in 1952 three flights that overflew the White House. I have one last question that I want to ask Jim very quickly and briefly.

KING: All right, real fast.

ECKER: Jim, are you aware of any NASA studies on UFO phenomena?

OBERG: I'm aware, Don, of 30 years of phony stories-

ECKER: And I'm not saying spaceships. I'm saying-

OBERG: -in UFO magazines-

ECKER: I'm saying-

OBERG: -taking transcripts-

KING: Guys, we'll have you both come back. We're out of time. Thanks, fellows-

OBERG: -and faking them.

KING: OK, thanks. We're out of time. Thanks very much. Hope you enjoyed this edition of `Don Ecker Live' from Washington. {laughs} A little fun there.

Back to STS-48 Index

Diagram of STS-48 Event 2

In order to try and help orientate you as to the contents of the STS-48 video, I have put together this very simplified diagram of some of the anomalies in event 2. There are other anomalies in the full video that I have not tried to illustrate in my diagram.

The pink arrow points to the physical horizon which is very hard to see and slightly darker than the lighter gray atmosphere above it . The pink arrow on the left in the diagram above points to an electronic marker on the video that also marks the physical horizon. The horizon is approximately 1,700 miles from the shuttle and the shuttle is flying 355 miles above the surface of the earth.

The orange arrow points to the airglow layer which is the thin bright layer between the lower atmosphere and the darkness of space above it. It begins 40 miles above the surface and is approximately 20 miles thick. The combined thickness of the lower atmosphere and airglow layer is approximately 60 miles.

The blue circle surrounds what we will call the "target" anomaly for purposes of this demonstration after it first appears to come up from behind the horizon or limb.

The yellow line marks the flight path of the "target" object. Notice how it moves slowly to the left below the airglow layer (possibly within the atmosphere) following along the horizon perfectly.

Suddenly, we see a bright flash of light from the lower left hand corner of the screen.

The "target" object momentarily stops then makes an abrupt right hand turn and zooms away towards space, apparently in response. Notice how the "target" object seems to brighten just as it crosses the airglow and how it dims out as it flies farther out in space.

After the bright flash we see what appears to be some sort of "projectile" streaking in the direction of the "target" object. The green line marks the approximate flight path of this anomalous "projectile" as it moves from the bottom of the screen towards the "target".

Back to STS-48 Index

The Strange Case of STS-48

by David Mayo

Source: September 1992 HUFON Report
newsletter of the Houston UFO Network
Posted to UFO World
courtesy of Vince Johnson

It was 1:43am Saturday morning, June 6, 1992. My wife had retired for the evening and I was flipping through the cable channels as men are compelled to do. Just by chance (or providence), I landed on KHTV (Ch 39 locally) where the program "HardCopy" was airing. The host was stating "...amazing videotape taken by a space shuttle astronaut, astounding evidence of UFOs!" Well, For over a year and a half I have been compiling UFO-related television segments from various programs. I jumped up and shoved my latest tape in the VCR and hit record. What followed was intriguing to say the least. Don Ecker, staffer to UFO Magazine, had obtained footage filmed from a recent shuttle mission and had brought it to "HardCopy." The footage showed a dark Earth positioned in the lower two-thirds of the screen. Banded around its middle, the lights of a major city sparkled. The Earth's curvature ran from right mid- frame to upper left corner. Above this, dark space was punctuated by a few stars. A small bright object suddenly appeared midway down the visible edge and traveled right to left at a fast rate following the curvature. There was a brief flash of light that bloomed from the upper left corner and the object made a sudden sharp right hand turn, picked up velocity and sped off into the darkness of space! A split second after this unusual turn, another object streaked upwards from lower in the frame and whizzed past the approximate point where the first object would have been had it not made the right hand turn.Don Ecker expounded that this was an alien spacecraft making an evasive maneuver just before something is shot at it.

Mr. Ecker's opinion not withstanding, NASA's official explanation was that it was ice crystals formed from waste water. "HardCopy's" stance was that this piece of film was either the UFO smoking gun or space debris. I found the entire footage to be something unique and possibly important. Still, this was "HardCopy" after all, not "60 Minutes" and with most news events the truth follows some time later.The next day I called a few people I knew to inquire whether they had seen it.Vince Johnson and Bill Eatwell had not.

However, later, Bill called me back with a mysterious message. He said that after speaking of this program to some of his friends, an unnamed caller instructed him to contact me and ask that I refrain from speaking about the footage any further and, in particular, not publish anything about this in HUFON REPORT. If I agreed and showed good faith, I would receive more information about the event. At first,this rubbed me wrong. I could understand that if the footage was a "smoking gun" and if an investigation was underway, the need for secrecy may be justified. What I couldn't accept was hearing all this third hand. If I am asked to spike a story, I want to know who is doing the asking. Instead, I was mollified by the promise of straight answers to any 10 questions I wished to ask about the HardCopy footage. My curiosity, at this point, had grown exponentially. Being the beggar and unable to choose, I agreed.

On June 8, I faxed the 10 questions I had compiled to Bill. He, in turn, faxed them to a neutral fax location (number) he was given. The questions were as follows:

1) What is the entire scenario of what I witnessed (i.e., what was transpiring)?

2) Which shuttle mission did this occur on?

3) If the object is an alien spacecraft, what was its size, speed and distance from the camera?

4) Was this object taking evasive action to avoid some sort of weaponry?

5) On the footage I saw, there was a brief flash that brightened the entire frame just before the object made the right angle turn. What caused this flash?

6) Could this be or have some relationship with SDI testing?

7) What is the position or opinion of the astronauts who filmed the object?

8) How did "HardCopy" or Don Ecker obtain this footage?

9) Does the extent of this investigation include congressional interest? In other words, give me some idea of what level of personnel is working on this.

10) When can the public or I expect this investigation to conclude?

With the exception of number 3 (an obviously loaded question), it seemed like a good list.

On June 10th, I was at work when I received a call from Bill. He says that the person involved with the investigation would be faxing me the answers within the next hour. The answers arrived on schedule. The answer sheet began with a few paragraphs stating the need for secrecy, the rules I must follow and the request that I not get paranoid. It stated that the "HardCopy" footage was of "Event #2", taken during STS-48. Further, it was NASA's opinion that the flash was from an attitude thruster firing. Lastly, The sheet stated that three major government offices were involved and that an official congressional inquiry had occurred.That was it. Bill Eatwell's involvement ceased at this point at the insistence of the unnamed source. I was also enjoined to not reveal any of this to anyone, including Bill. So here I was, involved in an honest-to-God high level investigation. Yet, all I could do was sit and wait. Just days from this, we would be publishing the June HUFON REPORT. Though anxious to tell someone, anyone of this, I held my peace and reported nothing in the newsletter. A little over two weeks later, another event changed the course of my involvement.

What with the presidential race developing into a three way free-for-all, I had been checking out "Larry King Live" on CNN each night. On June 26 at 8:32pm (30 minutes into his show), I suddenly remembered Larry King and switched to it. Astonishingly enough, he was introducing Don Ecker in LA. and James Oberg (ostensibly representing NASA) in Houston. The topic? You guessed it. I jumped up (I'm getting good at this) and shoved a tape in. What followed was a head to head confrontation between Don, doing his best impression of a UFO investigator, incensed at the government cover-up that Oberg was there to perpetrate and James, doing his best to appear as an interested "space nut" while touting the NASA line. Between the personal attacks on each other (that Larry King appeared powerless to control), some facts were revealed that jibed with the information I had received. This, at least, verified that I was dealing with a serious investigator.

One of the calls taken that night by Larry King was from Vincent DiPietro from Sykesville, MD. He apparently had digitally enhanced some of the Event #2 footage revealing a possible domed object. Mr. Ecker knew of this and, by inference, admitted he knew Mr. DiPietro. Still, Mr. DiPietro's opinion followed the NASA party line; that the object was an ice crystal that moved suddenly due to a shuttle attitude thruster firing. His opinion is noteworthy due to his name showing up in a very prominent manner later. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. More on Vincent DiPietro later.

Although I was told not to, I called Bill once more and informed him that while I was keeping my mouth shut, the story was showing up on nationally broadcast programs. Enough was enough. I had shown good faith. The secrecy was becoming an irritant, if for no other reason than my friend and UFO confidant (not to mention co-editor of HUFON REPORT, Vince Johnson, deserved to know about this story. Now I wanted to talk to someone. After this call, I wondered if I would hear from anyone again. I didn't have to wait long.

On Saturday, June 27th, Bill called me with a very brief message. The source of my information would be calling me in 15 minutes. Well, finally. Moments later, the phone rang. To my surprise, it was Ron Madeley, a past president of HUFON. He explained that he was giving me exclusive information, unavailable to any other publication. He stated that his belief in my seriousness to the study of UFOs and his opinion that HUFON REPORT had become the best UFO newsletter around helped him pick me. I'm not above praise so I thanked him, then insisted that I be shown something to convince me. Exactly, what was going on? Why "Event 2"? Were there other events? He agreed to visit me and bring the visual evidence of more than I was aware of. This story was about to become something much bigger, involving Congressional evasion, implausible deniability, and a flock of scientists, astronauts and physicists.

A few days later, Ron arrived at my house, bearing a briefcase. We sat on the sofa as he discussed some of the background of this particular shuttle flight. STS-48 was a September '91 launch of the space shuttle Discovery. It carried several scientific experiments including radiation monitoring, zero gravity crystal growth, polymer growth and rodent physiology. Cargo payloads included the UARS (Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite) and the APM-03 (Atmospheric Particle Monitor-3). There were five crew members: John Creighton, Commander; Kenneth Reightler, Jr. Pilot; Charles D. Gemar, Mission Specialist 1; James F. Buchli, Mission Specialist 2; and Mark N. Brown, Mission Specialist 3. Although this was not a DoD mission, all crew members were active duty military personnel. Ron mentioned a few other tidbits about congressional involvement but did not elaborate any further. The time had come to show and tell. He handed me a video tape. He explained he was going to show me Event #2 as it should be seen, not the multi- generational degraded footage shown on "HardCopy".

He was not exaggerating. This footage was not only extremely sharp and clear, but it was evident that the "HardCopy" footage had been an apertured-down version restricting the field of view. This time It was evident that the object did not suddenly appear, rather it had appeared when its course brought it from behind the Earth's rim, revealing itself against the dark Earth below. There were other anomalous objects in the frame. Some were moving in a similar direction but slower, while others appeared to be slowly converging on the first object. Ron explained that the real curiosity was the NASA explanation. During the course of all shuttle flights there is a long schedule of events. Everything from course corrections, rotating the shuttle due to the sun's heat and waste water ejection are performed according to schedule. NASA had stated that the brief flare was the firing of an attitude adjustment jet, required just prior to the waste water ejection procedure. Further, they explained that the object seen to make a right hand turn was merely a small ice crystal reacting to the thruster fire. The problem with this is that, based on actual NASA audio logs of the mission, an attitude adjustment and subsequent waste water ejection procedure occurred just after Event 2! The NASA explanation was patently wrong.

In the days that followed, Ron began to relate the details of the on-going investigation that these anomalous events had created. The number of players was enormous and as I was inundated by the names, dates, and activities, I finally admitted to Ron that he must allow me to bring another person in on this. I requested that Vince Johnson be included. He agreed. After the initial couple of meetings I had with Mr. Madeley, The three of us finally gathered at my home to view all the footage and to receive some further information for the inevitable writing of this article. We first viewed Event 2, bringing Vince up to date.

As amazing as this footage was, we were not prepared for the next bit of tape he showed us. As I loaded another tape he gave me into the machine, Ron explained that there were a total of six events recorded during the STS-48 mission. He hit the play button and showed us an amazing Event #3. This piece of footage is hard to describe due to the overwhelming activity present during the several seconds. The view was of the Earth in daylight. Clouds obscured much of the unidentified land mass below. As we watched, a small object streaked across the bottom of the frame right to left. Then, another, from left to right. A larger, bright object entered from upper left frame and traveled to the lower right. It appeared elongated, then slowed and became rounder, then exited the picture. Still another object, even brighter, entered from the lower left corner and traveled diagonally toward the upper right hand corner. Approximately midway, a smaller object streaked from the right and appeared to either intersect or pass above or below the brighter object. The bright object continued out of frame. Immediately following this, all hell seemed to break loose as multiple objects of varying brightness streaked through the field of ections; left to right, right to left, upper to lower; incredible activity everywhere! If all the anomalies had been traveling in the same direction a case could have been made that we were witnessing meteorites, but this was no meteor shower.

The last anomalous event within this Event #3 was perhaps the strangest, and of the shortest duration. In the upper left hand corner of the frame a very unusual object appeared for a brief moment before the view was switched to another shuttle camera. This object looked all the world like a domed object moving left to right! When viewed several times in a row, this impression was strengthened. This object could not be explained easily. Following this, we were shown Events #6, #4 and #1. These events, although significant, were minor compared to #2 and #3.

On November 11, 1991, Vincent DiPietro, an employee of GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center), issued a report to the Fund for UFO Research detailing his own investigation into the first four events of STS-48. It is interesting to note that Mr. DiPietro's report, written long before the Larry King show, shows a distinct pro-UFO stance contrasting greatly with his opinion offered to Larry King. During his inquiries he spoke to several scientists, astronauts and other ranking individuals. He asked each to describe the four events. Those claiming that the objects were ice were: Dr. Paul Lowman, Lunar Geologist Scientist at GSFC, Dr. Terry Dawson, Space Science and Technology Committee, Dr. Ken Rightler, STS-48 Astronaut, and Dr. Mark Brown, STS-48 Astronaut. Dr. Ron Parise, Astronaut at GSFC, claimed that the objects were meteors (even though he refused to view the tape). Don Haxton, Astronomer for the Space Telescope, claimed that the objects were not meteors. At the time of Mr. DiPietro's report, the NASA Public Affairs Administrators at GSFC had not responded to his inquiries, nor had Dr. Bogges, Chief Scientist for the Space Telescope project at GSFC. Among the various explanations given to explain the anomalous events were: the rockets on the side of STS-48 could have produced a blast of gas which could have deflected the objects, causing the unusual right-hand turn, and that STS-48 was just coming into the daylight and the objects (that seemed to appear out of thin air) could have been there all along, but might have been illuminated by sunlight when Event #2 started. Based on his investigation, Vincent DiPietro could come to no firm conclusions concerning the strange events of STS-48.

All of this evidence suggests some very odd activity during this shuttle mission. Mr. Madeley's own investigation has lasted more than five months. Several experts, in a variety of fields, have agreed to make their opinions available to him in exchange for being allowed to remain anonymous. The following article provides a more detailed look at Events 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.

Mr. Madeley graciously provided much of the details for Event 2. The details of the other events are either written from memory (we weren't allowed our own copy of the footage) or are taken from Mr. DiPietro's own investigation. We will be bringing you further information on this emerging story as it becomes available. During his investigation, Ron was showing the Event 3 footage over and over to an engineer working at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Ron asked what he thought it all was. The engineer replied, "I keep watching different things everytime you play it. Like I told you before; I thought I was watching a Star Wars movie or something from Hollywood!" And, in the words of one scientist working at the Sandia National Laboratories, "You have something quite important there."

Copyright 1992 by Houston UFO Network / David Mayo

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The Anomalous Events of STS-48

by Vince Johnson

Source: September 1992 HUFON Report
newsletter of the Houston UFO Network
Posted to UFO World
courtesy of the author: Vince Johnson

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)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.

Copyright 1992 by Houston UFO Network / Vince Johnson

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by Thomas. E. Carey (1993)

Note: This commentary assumes familiarity with the
STS-48 video sequence in its commercial edition.

Posted to UFO World
courtesy of the author: Thomas E. Carey


Taking the shuttle's altitude above the surface as 355 miles, and earth's radius as (approximately) 4000 miles, the distance to the horizon works out to about 1700 miles. [(4000+355)*cos(arcsin(4000/4355)) = 1722] The so-called "target" appears to rise over the horizon; that would place it at least that far from the camera (about 1700 mi.) But this is only the minimum range; it could have been further out on the sight line.

But if the scene was staged for the shuttle camera (maybe for live broadcast too ???) the object may have been closer than the horizon. Its apparent rising over the limb could be simulated by appropriate control of timing, luminosity, and positioning, even so far as the observed brightening when the sight line transits the airglow layer. That (Byzantine) scenario aside, the case is well made that the "object" is seen through the airglow layer as it departs. This does not show it to be at the distance of the horizon, only that it is probably not much closer. At (say) twice that distance, the observed departure track (after the "flash") would look much the same; a similar brightening would appear as the line of sight crossed the airglow layer. Naturally the greater its distance from the camera, the more extreme its speeds and accelerations must be; and conversely.

Can anything be found in the video sequence, or inferred from it, to show that when the object first appeared at the limb, and/or during its horizontal traverse, it was within the atmosphere, i.e., below the airglow, rather than beyond it? It was luminous, and its brightness changed as it departed; but the same is true of the other wandering objects that we can see. They also glow, move, change course and speed, vary in brightness. Can it be shown that these objects, or any of them, are in the atmosphere? My own subjective impression is that all these wanderers are above it (some lower, maybe some higher than the shuttle). Their luminosities change, but not in proportion to velocity, as would be caused by frictional heating.


Over the years many eyewitness reports of so-called UFO's have stated that the object(s) observed changed brightness and/or color, sometimes coincidentally with apparent changes in speed or direction. The STS-48 sequence carries data on brightness but not on color. The CCD's used in that camera may not be equally responsive to all wavelengths; and if its spectral sensitivity profile were known, a careful densitometric study of the film might support the idea that some of the changes in brightness might be color changes instead. The sequenced "blinking" exhibited by some of the wandering objects might also be changes of color, not of brightness, or both. From the position and orbit of the shuttle, the time of the events, and the orientation of the camera, the stars seen throughout the sequence can be identified. Possibly the camera's response to different wavelengths could be calibrated by comparing the video images of the brighter stars with their (known) spectral signatures and magnitudes.

A wonderful, time-consuming project for a skilled person using first class equipment... someone's graduate assistant, say. I got to thinking about this after noticing that in the high speed run of the "flash" sequence, the two "shot" tracks appear quite different from each other. The first, at left, is of relatively constant brightness (to my eyes, at least). The second one, angling toward the right, is notably slower, and its brightness fluctuates at regular intervals (perhaps 3 or four cycles along its track). This may suggest that the track is not simply an ionization trail.

Another point: conceivably, the difference in speed of these two tracks could be partly or wholly an artifact of perspective. If the left-hand track were skewed at a greater angle to the camera's line of sight than the (slower) right-hand track, the apparent difference in speeds might be illusory.


I haven't followed the open technical literature on SDI very closely. But I have the impression that essential to the "Brilliant Pebbles" concept was a very dense ballistic projectile accelerated to a very high speed, which would deliver enormous kinetic energy disastrously to anything it impacted. Depleted uranium has been mentioned as the material of choice. One of the applications, supposedly, was to strike an ICBM in its boost phase. A distinctive thermal signature and relatively slow speed make targeting at this stage attractive. Here the "pebble", launched from space, would traverse a certain amount of atmosphere. Its high density (small cross section) would limit deflection by the atmosphere, and most of its mass would survive ablation.

Perhaps the argument was made that results might improve if the missile were targeted outside the atmosphere. With no atmospheric resistance, one could use a swarm of "pebblitos" [if this neologism is new, it's public now...], to be dispersed near the target in a controlled manner. Still, to ensure physical destruction of the targeted missile, very dense material would be preferred to maximize the kinetic energy delivered. In space a few pinto beans moving fast enough can hole a vehicle and disable its crew, but a ballistic missile doesn't need to breathe, and its warhead could be armored.

Comments on the STS-48 video seem to assume that the "target object" was in atmosphere when the railgun was fired. Can this bedemonstrated? If it were in atmosphere, reference to the "shot" as a swarm of plastic pellets is puzzling. I doubt that pellets would maintain accuracy while passing through the atmosphere, or deliver sufficient kinetic energy at the target, as a result of ablation, turbulence and atmospheric drag.


Does this video sequence record the test firing of a "Star Wars" device? Simplifying assumptions can lead one astray, but I make one here: that if SDI hardware of terrestrial manufacture is involved, it is under military, not civilian, control. And a military firing range is strictly regulated, for two reasons: safety and security. One doesn't want to lose anyone down range by misadventure; but more especially one doesn't want observant strangers out there taking notes on the performance of classified weapons systems.

Looking at the entire STS-48 sequence, with so many luminous objects wandering around at will, it's not easy to equate what I see with a military firing range. On the other hand - out there in space is the only range there is, and we can't control access to it.

There's another problem. Assume for the moment that the video does show a shot from a space-based railgun of terrestrial construction, under human direction, at a target on a test range. Clearly the capabilities of the target object are truly extraordinary. So extraordinary, in fact, that one wonders why the railgun would be needed. The object called a "target" looks to be agile enough to overtake an ICBM (or anything else) with ease, match its trajectory, and either paint "Kilroy was here" on the hull or stick a 50 kilo limpet mine on it.

Something certainly appears to have been fired at a target. It's not so certain that the target was under the same jurisdiction as the weapon.

In November 1992 some of us saw segments of this STS-48 video which don't appear in this commercial edition. I remember that the shuttle communicator seemed to have foreknowledge of something about to occur (indicating they were following the mission profile); and also that after the event, both voices (shuttle and Houston), expressed extreme surprise at what they had just seen.

I wish these voice exchanges had been included. (I know there was very little room left on the UN tape.) But this colloquy with Houston is vital, in that it almost surely refutes the idea that we're looking at a hostile shot at some intruder, since the mission planners could not have scheduled such an intrusion.

Of course, both shuttle crew and ground control may have been left out of the loop in this instance. This would raise other questions as to who's in charge, and what the real mission is.

But there is a way, after all, to make the SDI scheme fit what we see. Assume that this really was a range test of a railgun weapon in the SDI program. And STS-48 was tasked to photograph it; then NASA crews at both ends would be looking for it. But something surprised them. That surprise may have been the bizarre and unscheduled behavior of the target drone, which did not submit numbly to its fate.

In this speculative scenario, one might speculate that some other agency unexpectedly took control of the target, vividly demonstrating its capabilities to a select audience. For me this notion has a certain charm. But it doesn't account for the second shot track, on the right, or the several other objects which wander throughout the scene, apparently at will. Maybe this "happening" was laid on in the knowledge that the cameras would be rolling during the SDI exercise. Then, by accident or design, the broadcast went public in real time. Here other interesting questions arise. Whose demonstration was it, actually? whose design? and how many cooks were in the kitchen?

I don't think it's conclusively shown here that this video covers an SDI exercise, though it may have done. Nor is it certain that all, or any, of the activities we see in this sequence (aside from shuttle operations) are being conducted by human beings. Yet obviously the crew and the controllers were expecting something just then. We don't know much for sure. Where and when are pretty well established; but who, and what, and why are not. Nor is how, for that matter....


The level of technology we see in this video (if it is not an elaborate deceit), is without question orders of magnitude beyond what we currently consider as state of the art. Any outfit with such control of inertia and (or?) gravitation could put a crew on Mars before lunch any day of the week, and bring them back home the same day - with rocks and fossils and soil samples.

Yet NASA openly budgets billions of dollars on space operations based on conventional propulsion systems, and it still depends on elaborate life-support apparatus even for relatively short cis-lunar missions. And it is designing an expensive space station around this conventional technology. Is all this just a shadow-show? Are we crazy, or what?

There is a black budget, and it is large. Over the years it may have been used to develop a limited electro-gravitic technology, even to the point of operating vehicles freely in local space. The ability to launch on opportunity may already have been achieved. The effect of recoil on an orbiting platform could be controlled. But the current level of (black) technology may not yet be compatible with crew survival, allowing use of unmanned vehicles only.

If what the video shows was indeed a railgun shot, the railgun was either already in orbit, having been launched conventionally sometime earlier; or it simply rose to the occasion from its base. Could a conventional launch be concealed? Could an orbiting platform be hidden? It would need occasional maintenance. Are maintenance missions observed? Could they be hidden?

Could some technology enable a platform to keep geographic station at less then synchronous altitude?


During the war New Guinea natives saw landing strips and control towers being built in their jungles, and then day after day watched the cargo planes come out of the sky to unload the most incredible bounty. When the war was over, the planes stopped coming. So the natives cleared some strips in the jungle, built towers out of tree-trunks and branches, and waited for the planes to come down. That's what they saw the soldiers do, and they knew it worked. But the planes never came.

We call these beliefs, and their efforts, "cargo cults", and we laugh at them. But given the paradigms through which they understood their world, it was all quite logical. The problem was that an enormous and complex world was impinging upon them, the world of twentieth-century technology. A world they knew nothing about. A world for which they had no concepts, a world they had no language to describe. Our society may be in a similar situation.

Of course our cargo cults nowadays will be more sophisticated.

Not many structural conclusions can be drawn from the limited data we've got so far. The tetrahedral geometry Hoagland and others have identified, recognizable now throughout the solar system, has implications which are profound. Who will be pursuing those "implications"? Developing the new technology? Acquiring, controlling and disseminating such information?

The powerful control structures now in place on earth - economic, political, social---are not likely to give way voluntarily. Yet the logical evolution of "tetrahedral geometry" and the technologies which will follow, is certain to threaten many of these structures. Efforts to frustrate exploration and maintain control of any developments have already been made, and will grow stronger. Very likely, when Cydonia is actually explored, a good deal more will be discovered than geometric puzzles. Yet for the foreseeable future, the technical capacity of our civilization to reach Cydonia lies solely in the hands of those whose interests may not favor disclosure.

The "security" measures NASA has now installed, even for the Mars Observer photos, pretty strongly suggest that someone either knows or fears what the high-resolution camera will show on Mars. I can't conceive that anything we see on Mars could impair our "National Security" in the conventional sense. But the comfort of conventional beliefs, and the great power of established hegemonies, may well be at risk. Some people seem to be worrying!

There are indications lately that others may be intervening in some positive fashion. It would be nice to think that somebody else will fix our problems here, but I don't think it's likely to happen. Even if "George" is out there, "George" won't do it. I'm willing to bet we're going to have to do all the work down here.

We'll get some hints, some psychological interventions (as in, I suspect, this STS-48 video, and in the English crop formations). I said interventions. Not messages. These events (and others) had, and are having, consequences for our culture, largely unknown. And I assume that unhelpful interventions are also occurring.

If some real civilization is looking at this planet, they will be seeing Yugoslavia raised to the pi'th power. What's tangled in our society, we have to untangle by ourselves. If we want to, we can; and if we don't want to, it can't be done. Who else would even try?


The aforementioned conventional beliefs and established hegemonies face even stronger challenges now, with the discovery of these incredible ruins on the Moon.

We don't have to wait for the government to mount a Moon mission, to investigate what it considers useful, sequester whatever information it chooses, and later disclose only what it deems appropriate. This is not like Mars.

We can get to the Moon from here. And it won't cost a gazillion dollars, either. We can see for ourselves. If all we find up there is barren regolith, craters, moon dust, and Alan Bean's footprints, so be it. At least we could believe it then.

Atlanta, June, 1996

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