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UFO Sightings by Astronauts

Updated on November 22, 2012

When people think of UFOs, the first thing that comes to mind is conspiracy theories and tin foil hats. However, many witnesses have been astronauts, cosmonauts and professional pilots.

Because of an astronaut’s training, they’re well versed in objects commonly seen in space and the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s this training that makes their experiences so convincing. However, because of stigmas and governmental suppression, many never come forward. If they do, it’s not until many years after the event happened.

Project Gemini

From 1965 to 1966 NASA prepared for the Apollo 11 mission by sending astronauts into low orbit missions to practice tasks which would be carried out in space. Over the course of 20 months, they sent 16 astronauts up for 10 missions.

  • Jim McDevitt

On the second day of Gemini 4, Jim saw what looked like a tin can with something like a pencil sticking out of it in orbit with him.

He took a few pictures of it, but he wasn’t able to get the right focus. McDevitt still sent the film to NASA for review. Those pictures weren’t returned to him for fourteen days.

When they were sent back, he knew that they weren’t of the object he had seen. McDevitt was never given an explanation of where the real pictures were. As far as anyone knows, they’re still in NASA’s possession.

  • Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr and Richard F. Gordon Jr

On September 13th, 1966, the second day of Gemini 11’s mission, Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon sighted a UFO. The unidentified craft buzzed their ship so closely that they should have been able to tell what it was. However, they were unable to do so. NASA claimed that they had seen fragments of an old satellite, but both men disagreed with that assessment. They were able to get pictures of the object, but its identity remains a mystery to this day.

These sightings and more were recorded during radio correspondences between Gemini mission control and the crafts. Once the astronauts had returned to Earth, these logs were classified and the men were made to sign affidavits which swore them to silence.

However, after twelve years, those logs have been declassified, and are now available in NASA’s public records.

The crew of Apollo 11. From left to right - Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.
The crew of Apollo 11. From left to right - Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. | Source

Astronauts of Apollo 11

  • Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins

One of the most famous UFO sightings by an astronaut comes from Buzz Aldrin during Apollo 11’s trip to the moon. About three days into the mission, a message came from the craft asking for the whereabouts of the S-IV B, the last part jettisoned from the craft. Mission control had radioed back that it was six thousand nautical miles away, effectively out of sight of the craft.

They had seen a strange object flying at Apollo 11’s side. At first, it had looked like two semi-circular objects, but it was viewed with a telescope, it had more of a bell shape. After watching it for a while, the crew had decided to not talk about it again until they landed and were debriefed.

This wasn’t the last time these three men had an encounter with UFOs. Two days further into the trip, Aldrin was performing a final systems check the day before descent to the moon’s surface. While he was checking the camera, two more UFOs came into focus. They seemed to be moving intelligently and giving off some sort of liquid. They stayed in close formation, moved together, then apart, then together again before streaking off in opposite directions.

The third experience happened while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were collecting rocks on the moon. Michael Collins was still in the command module, the Columbia. He had spotted strange white objects on the south west edge of the crater his teammates were working in. Collins remained in constant contact with ground control as he watched them.

When the module, the Eagle, lifted off of the moon, those strange white objects made another appearance. This time, they were caught on film as they passed beneath the retreating module.

Again, because of the classification put on the transcripts, it was many years before this information could be shared.

Out of the Blue - The Definitive Investigation of the UFO Phenomenon
Out of the Blue - The Definitive Investigation of the UFO Phenomenon
This is an excellent movie which goes into depth about the UFO phenomenon and the secrecy surrounding it.


According to NASA’s official web page, “No branch of the United States Government is currently involved with or responsible for investigations into the possibility of alien life on other planets or for investigating Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO's). The U.S. Air Force (USAF) and NASA have had intermittent, independent investigations of the possibility of alien life on other planets; however, none of these has produced factual evidence that life exists on other planets, nor that UFO's are related to aliens.”

Although UFOs may not be directly related to UFOs, the above statement doesn’t address potential reasons behind the above sightings, nor the ongoing secrecy around the phenomenon. To be honest, it makes me wonder if there’s something more sinister behind these sightings and the aftermath professional pilots, for example, face.

It also makes me wonder what happened to the pictorial and video evidence that was confiscated from the astronauts in the above stories. Why keep them hidden if the subject UFOs is such a none issue?

Viktor Afanasyev
Viktor Afanasyev | Source

Russian Cosmonauts

Astronauts from the United States aren’t the only ones who have had experiences with the UFO phenomenon. Quite a few Russian cosmonauts have been able to share their sightings, as well.

  • Viktor Afanasyev

While on a mission in April 1979, Afanasyev left Star City, the USSR’s equivalent of NASA, to dock with the Salyut 6 space station. While the trip was underway, a metallic object turned towards them and followed them closely.

Afanasyev was able to get several pictures of it and estimated that the craft was 26-28 meters away. While he still had it within visual range, he continually communicated with the surface about what he was seeing.

When he returned from the mission, his film and cameras were confiscated. Finally, he was sworn to secrecy. It was only after the Soviet Union fell that he felt safe enough to share his remarkable story.

  • Viktor Kovalenok and Viktor Savinykh

On May 5th, 1981, these two men were stationed on Salyut station.

One day, Kovalenok caught sight of a finger shaped object in orbit with them. When he couldn’t figure out what it was, he called Savinkh over for help in determining the object’s size and distance. While Savinkh was preparing to capture a picture, it abruptly exploded. Once the cloud had cleared, a dumbbell shaped object was revealed.

Interestingly, specialists on the surface recorded higher than usual radioactivity levels that day.

  • Gennadi Manakov and Gennadi Strekalov

The month was September and the year was 1990. Manakov and Strekalov were stationed on the Soyuz station. That day, they sky over the ocean they were passing was perfectly clear, but when they looked down, they were startled to find a large, silver disk hovering in the atmosphere. It was iridescent, and they judged it to be about 20-30 kilometers above the surface.

When asked if it could have been an ice-berg, they firmly stated that it couldn’t have been one. The shape was that of a sphere, and it was entirely too large to be one.

Latest UFO Sightings

Today, there’s no doubt that UFO sightings are still taking place in space. With the prevalence of cameras and telescopes looking heavenward, there’s probably a great deal of potential evidence being captured that the public will never see.

At this point, the subject of whether UFOs even exist is still looked down upon and laughed at. Professionals who speak about their experiences in public have been known to lose their jobs over it, and most witnesses have experienced some form of derision when they tell their stories.

However, few will ever know if the cover up stories are true, what many UFOs really are and if aliens are behind the sightings. Regardless of what’s behind these mysterious events, the peoples’ experiences are real, and that must be respected. The topic won't be going away any time soon.

Have you ever seen a UFO?

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© 2012 Emilie S Peck


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