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Exploring the Mystery of the Black Knight Satellite

Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his favorite topics.


I always believe that we are not alone. With a vast universe above our heads, there are millions of possibilities that out there, an Earth-like planet exists. It’s just a matter of time until we find it, or us being found. But for some people, the waiting is over, for incidents in the past are enough of a proof that interstellar visitors are making regular visits. But these so-called encounters also taught us to be careful on what we believe, as fabricating hoaxes never required big Hollywood style special effects. Just look how the Black Triangle photo fooled the world, which was nothing more than painted foam and flashlight.

And a mysterious object floating above the Earth’s atmosphere just triggered the imaginations of our UFO enthusiasts.

During a Space Shuttle mission, something black was seen floating near the polar orbit of the Earth. And when the photo was released for public viewing, proponents were quick to point out that it wasn’t any ordinary space junk. It might be extraterrestrial in origin, and a visible proof that above our heads the Black Knight satellite watches us.

The Stories of the Black Knight

Somehow, Tesla got involved.

Somehow, Tesla got involved.

ven before the photo of the alleged alien satellite was released by NASA, a lot of conspiracists believed that there was already recorded evidence of the Black Knight object, which stretched back 120 years ago (at least, according to them). To begin with, a Black Knight is an artificial satellite of alien origin that was orbiting the Earth for Millenia. For over 13000 years, there is an extraterrestrial spacecraft above our heads, watching over us undetected, and sometimes, sending encoded messages.

And Nikola Tesla once received that cryptic signal.

According to proponents, Tesla was making experiments at his Colorado Springs laboratory, when he picked the alien messages. That was way back in 1899, and he wrote how he was about to witness “the birth of the new knowledge and revelation of a great truth.” They reckoned that the signal came from the satellite, though Tesla believed it was sent from Mars. Another strange signal was also reported by engineer Jorgen Hals in Oslo, Norway (1927), which he described as “echoes.”

The thing here is that until now, no one could explain where the signal came from. But for the conspiracist, it was a sure indication that the Black Knight satellite was a making a contact on us. Plus, Donald Keyhoe, a UFO researcher claimed that two satellites were tracked by the United States Air Force. That was back in 1954, when nations were still unable to launch artificial satellites in space.

And how about the article by Time in February 1960s, when they reported how the U.S. Navy detected a dark object? Astronaut Gordon Cooper also had his share of encounters in 1963, when he reported a UFO sighting.

But for the believers, the biggest piece of evidence came, when a shuttle mission captured a photo of what looks like an unidentified object floating in space.

The Photo

The alleged Black Knight photo.

The alleged Black Knight photo.

During the first shuttle mission to the International Space Station back in 1998, NASA saw this. It’s a black piece of something in low Earth orbit. The object appeared black, probably due to limited sunlight it reflected, or it was taken against the light. Nevertheless, with the Earth’s atmosphere and the dark space in the background, it makes for an epic photography. It looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie, and the surreal nature of the photo is what fascinates UFO fans.

Or maybe, we are looking at an extraterrestrial object here.

The mysterious object was designated by the space agency as STS088-724-66. But proponents reckoned that it was the actual photo of the Black Knight satellite that NASA hid for so long.

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So, what does it means? Being documented for more than a century and with a photo evidence, the Black Knight satellite should be real. But as sceptics pointed out, that wasn’t the case.

Flaws in the Narratives

Pulsars could produce strange sounding signals.

Pulsars could produce strange sounding signals.

he so-called documented evidence of the Black Knight mentioned above are just few of the many accounts regarding the mysterious object, including published books. Yet, they are often dismissed as mere conspiracy theories for a number of reasons. These stories are murky, and often devoid of evidence. They are simply riddled with holes and don’t connect with each other.

Let us begin with the signal captured by Tesla.

The inability to track its source was what convinced proponents that it came from the Black Knight. The problem here is that there is also no evidence linking it to that object. And without solid proof, one could assume that it could just came anywhere, as given the vastness of the universe, any natural source could produce such signals. A good example is a pulsar, and Tesla probably heard a pulsar back then. And if he did, he is in luck, since it required more powerful equipment to detect one. But a nearer object, like Jupiter’s radiation was the likelier candidate. And now that we talk of near sources, the signals could be earth-based instead.

And the same could be said to what Hals heard.

Natural sources could have caused this, from traveling signals, to signals reflected by plasma clouds.

Other Problems

Even the spy satellite Discoverer VIII got tangled in this mess.

Even the spy satellite Discoverer VIII got tangled in this mess.

Going back to Donald Keyhoe, his claim should not be taken seriously, as what skeptics felt, as he was in the process of promoting a book that time. And his account was written more as a form of “tongue-in-cheek.” The dark object detected by the U.S. Navy, as what Time reported was nothing more than the remains of a real working satellite Discoverer VIII.

And the alleged report of Gordon Cooper reminds us that UFO narratives could sprout from unreliable sources. NASA’s mission transcript, nor Cooper’s personal copies never showed he saw any UFO in his 15th orbit in Mercury 9.

But how about the NASA shuttle mission photo.

Nothing but Space Junk

A thermal cover.

A thermal cover.

As for the spectacular photo of a mysterious black object in Earth’s orbit, it was trash. Literally. Astronaut Jerry Ross explained that during the construction of the International Space Station, a thermal cover came loose from its tether, and it floated away.

And that was it! That so called Black Knight photo was nothing but an escaped thermal blanket. Nothing spectacular, nothing exotic and nothing alien. Just a piece of junk that floated away. It never stayed in orbit though, as it burned in the atmosphere a few days after. But it’s highly unlikely that people will let go of the Black Knight theory. For one thing, the photo of the space junk is simply too epic to ignore. And people will believe what they want to believe, no matter how rational the truth is.


  1. Delbert, Caroline (3 May 2021). "The Truth About the Black Knight Satellite Conspiracy Theory." Popular Mechanics.
  2. Crookes, David (2020). "The Black Knight Satellite: A Hodgepodge of Alien Conspiracy Theories."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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