The ‘Black Knight Satellite’ conspiracy theory is certainly not new. It first emerged in the 1950s. It involves extraterrestrial civilizations and aliens, delighting UFO hunters. The Black Knight Satellite is purported to be a satellite that has orbited Earth for 13,000 years. Thus, it could not have been made by humans, let alone launched into space by them. 13,000 years ago, we were just starting to abandon our nomadic existence, settling in one place and domesticating animals.

The Black Knight Satellite must therefore originate from an extraterrestrial civilization, according to the ‘believers’. Moreover, the government is said to be doing everything in its power to keep the existence of the Black Knight Satellite a secret. In reality, the story of the Black Knight Satellite seems more like a collection of strange phenomena and observations that science has yet to explain. Below are 10 interesting facts about one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories ever spread.

First spotted in the 1950s

50s Black Knight Satellite

The Black Knight Satellite was allegedly first noticed in the 1950s. In 1954, a report appeared in the New York Times about 2 strange objects in a polar orbit around Earth. An American astronomer, Lincoln LaPaz, was said to have seen those objects. Problem: in 1954, no country could launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit. The American Pentagon was in an uproar, as it was thought the Soviet Union had succeeded in launching an artificial satellite. No, it turned out later. The Soviet Union would achieve this only in 1957 with the famous Sputnik. LaPaz later stated that the article in the newspaper was incorrect and that he had not seen any satellites around Earth.

Tesla was the first to receive the radio signals

tesla Black Knight Satellite
Cardiff Council Flat Holm Project

According to believers in the Black Knight Satellite, the mysterious satellite has been transmitting radio signals since the beginning, i.e., 13,000 years ago. Primitive humans at that time could, of course, not receive these signals. It was not until the great inventors of the 19th century, such as Nikola Tesla, came along that radio receivers and transmitters were invented. Proponents of the conspiracy theory claim that it was Nikola Tesla who first received signals from the Black Knight Satellite. Indeed, during his experiments with radio receivers in 1899, Tesla received strange repetitive signals from space that he could not explain. These signals were likely from a so-called pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star. At Tesla’s time, such pulsars were not yet known.

More strange sounds from space

In the 1920s, even more strange effects with radio signals were discovered. Several people, including radio amateur Jörgen Hals from Oslo, observed that after receiving a radio message, the same signals were received again a few seconds later. This was called ‘long-delayed echoes’. After the rumors about the Black Knight Satellite in the 1950s, supporters of the conspiracy theory quickly attributed these long-delayed echoes to the extraterrestrial satellite.

Communication with an extraterrestrial civilization


Ronald Bracewell, a professor at Stanford University, came up with a theory in 1960 about how ‘aliens’ could communicate with us. Bracewell thought that unmanned spacecraft (so-called ‘space probes’) were most suited for traveling to distant planets in search of intelligent civilizations. These ‘space probes’ had to function autonomously and contain all the information about the civilization they came from. If the spacecraft found a suitable planet, it would transmit radio signals. Bracewell’s space probe became known as the ‘Bracewell probe‘. UFO hunters soon considered the Black Knight Satellite to be a Bracewell probe.

The Black Knight Satellite accelerated the space race

At the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, the US and the Soviet Union were engaged in a real space race. Both nations were launching satellites into orbit around Earth. In 1960, a radar of the US Navy detected a strange object in a polar orbit around Earth. It was not an American satellite, so it was quickly thought to be a Soviet Russian spy device. The US Department of Defense eventually announced that it was a piece of space debris from a US satellite. According to military documents released later, this explanation was not true. For the ‘believers’, this was yet another piece of evidence of the existence of the Black Knight Satellite and of a cover-up operation by the US government.

The destroyed recordings of the Black Knight Satellite

According to French computer scientist Jacques Vallée, he made recordings in 1961 of a space object that described a retrograde orbit (= opposite to the direction of Earth’s rotation) around our planet. Launching a satellite into a retrograde orbit was considered impossible at the time. Vallée therefore thought it was an asteroid. When his boss saw the recordings, he destroyed the film. Due to the Cold War and the space race between the US and the Soviet Union, his boss probably did not want to cause any unrest. But this incident was again seen by UFO hunters as a conspiracy to deny the existence of the Black Knight Satellite.

Astronaut sees green lights

astronatu green lights

In 1963, astronaut Gordon Cooper orbited Earth in his ‘Mercury 9’ space capsule. During the 15th orbit, Cooper was said to have seen green lights, later claimed to be from the Black Knight Satellite. At the same time, a NASA tracking station in Australia also reportedly observed a strange object. Yet, there is no solid evidence for this. NASA later explained that the green lights were probably from the Mercury capsule itself, and that Cooper might have been hallucinating due to a carbon dioxide leak in his spacecraft. This story once again contributed to the controversy surrounding the Black Knight Satellite.

The photo from Endeavour

Black Knight Satellite endeavour

During flight STS-88 of the space shuttle Endeavour, astronauts took a photo of an object floating in space. Again, many thought it was the Black Knight Satellite. NASA specialists recognized the object as a thermal blanket that had been lost during an earlier spacewalk. However, some claim that the lost space blanket burned up in the atmosphere a week later, and therefore the object in the photo must indeed be the Black Knight Satellite.

Originating from Epsilon Boötis

Science fiction writer Duncan Lunan conducted research in 1973 on the radio signals with long-delayed echoes from the 1920s. He concluded that the echoes could have come from a spacecraft that had been orbiting the moon (not Earth) for 13,000 years. The spacecraft was supposedly from a planet in the solar system of the binary star Epsilon Boötis, also known as Izar. Years later, Duncan Lunan would deny his claims. He later said that he had based his claims on incorrect data and that he had worked unscientifically. Supporters of the Black Knight Satellite considered this yet another proof of a conspiracy to ‘obscure’ the Black Knight Satellite.

Is the Black Knight Satellite still orbiting our Earth?

More upheaval in 2016. Then, video recordings appeared of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (ISS), apparently ‘followed’ by an unknown object. The Black Knight Satellite? There is no conclusive evidence that this extraterrestrial satellite orbits our Earth. UFO hunters have collected various unexplained observations and phenomena to create the story of the Black Knight Satellite. They also continue to claim that there is a government conspiracy, involving NASA, to suppress the existence of the extraterrestrial satellite. Undoubtedly, there are still many phenomena in space that we cannot (yet) explain. UFO hunters delight in such unexplainable matters, to provide evidence of extraterrestrial life. As long as it remains unclear observations, blurry photos, misinterpreted signals, incorrect data, and runaway fantasies, the Black Knight Satellite remains an unlikely story. A perfect subject for a successful science fiction novel.

Harper is a history enthusiast with a penchant for the peculiar. Raised in a small American town, she brings a unique blend of insightful research and playful storytelling to Top10HQ. Harper specializes in uncovering the lesser-known, often bizarre tales of the past, making history accessible and engaging for all. J

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