Nuclear Connection Project
NCP Paper 


Carriers or Confabulations? 

Fran Ridge

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, updated March 22, 2015

We had discussed this in an email thread in September of 2011 but some of the history hadn't been presented. The discussion resulted in nothing more than a lost email that had no home. A few months ago the subject of those early reports of mystery satellites came up again. Rather than re-invent the wheel as one colleague had intimated, I was determined to get the full story out there and on the NICAP site, no matter the outcome.

The idea of "mother ships", "carriers", etc, in orbit is not a new one and wouldn't be too hard to expect during huge sighting waves, provided that there was some evidence to support the claims. If it were established that some of the rumors were true, then this paper would certainly be justified, and its claim to have a nuclear or strategic connection could also be considered as a strong possibility. If nothing else this paper would serve as a position statement and a directory for the evidence, and any further findings would have a place to be filed. Here is what we think we know about this 60+ year-old enigma, "the mystery satellites".

Very early on, in 1947, it was mentioned that the saucers were not due to Communist agents making false reports and there wasn't much to keep the FBI busy. Military Intelligence, however, pressed on with its intercontinental missile/plane hypothesis. The idea of orbiting satellites were already being studied. (Ref 9)

On July 18, 1947. The district FBI office at New Haven, Connecticut, forwarded a document of special interest to Bureau headquarters in Washington about the remarks volunteered by a scientist with "an excellent background in wartime government work and currently employed at a research laboratory in Stamford. The document reads:
"Mr. ---(deleted) stated that the topic of 'flying saucers'  had caused considerable comment and concern to the present-day scientists and indicated that he himself had a personal theory concerning the 'flying saucers.' Prior to advancing his own theory, Mr.--- remarked that immediately after the conclusion of World War II, a friend of his, Mr.---, allegedly observed the 'flying saucers' from an observatory in Milan and Bologna, Italy. He stated that apparently at the time the 'flying saucers' had caused a little comment in Italy but that after some little publicity they immediately died out as public interest. Mr.--- stated that it is quite possible that actually the 'flying saucers' could be radio controlled germ bombs or atom bombs which are circling the orbit of the earth and which could be controlled by radio and directed to land on any desired target at the specific desire of the agency or country operating the bombs. "
Here's where it gets interesting. He stated that
" of the items of interest which he personally has observed is the fact that the saucers have been observed in Mexico City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Halifax, Newfoundland, Paris, Milan, Bologna, and Yugoslavia as well as Albania. By placing a string around the globe of the earth it would be noticed that all of the above mentioned cities form a direct orbit or circle around the earth and would be more or less in line of any path in which the saucers could be circling.
"Mr.--- further states that he had recently talked with one of the owners of a ---Company in Glenbrook, Conn., and had been informed by --- that his company is making a large powerful telescope to be used in searching the stratosphere for atom bombs." (Ref 10)
So we can see that there was concern about the Russians and secret weapons from space, long before Sputnik. Some thought they were farther ahead of us than we had thought. Was that enough to begin a more thorough search for orbital objects or was there other evidence about other type of objects in orbit?

In 1974, Dr. David Saunders, using documented observations of UFOs in Ted Bloecher's book, The Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, claims that a straight plot of 36 sightings existed between Monterrey, California, and Baltimore, Maryland, with an average deviation of 1-1/4 miles for the period of time July 3rd to July 16th. For more details consult the Santa Ana (California) Register of October 2, 1974, which has the article: "UFO Data Computer Study-Key to Sightings Prediction?" by David Branch. 52)

So what about those pesky reports of unidentified satellites?

At first there were reports in the 1950's, followed by reports in 1960, and more recently the reports of a Dark Star Satellite. What really spawned my interest in all this was the Lunascan Project's detection of what my Lunascan team believes was an unidentified LUNAR orbiter in 1996. But as I began to collect information on Earth orbiters, some in the form of documentation, the findings began to take the shape of a more comprehensive and interesting "paper", rather than what I had initially envisioned, a simple dir for such claims.

If we could establish the existence of large orbiters and UAP activity during major sighting waves it would have to be considered extremely important, much more so than a collection of close and distant encounters. How can one forget that once we had carriers in the Gulf during Desert Storm, big things began to happen. And they were preceded by an increase in normal activity. The rest is history, history that is starting to repeat itself.

The best place to start is the beginning of it all, the 1950's. Two sensational announcements captured peoples attention throughout the world. The first announcement said laconically that the U.S. Army had commissioned the well-known astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of the planet Pluto, to look for a second moon believed to belong to our Earth. And, two weeks later, came the second, almost incredible, statement to the effect that Tombaugh had already located two new Earth satellites. These were allegedly fairly large meteors which had, in some unexplained manner, come into the neighborhood of the Earth and were now in orbit around it. The article (Ref.1) that mentioned all this went on to say that the two new "satellites" were from 430 to 650 miles from the Earth and between 60 feet and 300 feet in diameter. It was a preposterous explanation. For several asteroids to come in from space and, without any control, to assume the precise courses necessary to go into such orbits, would be impossible. Something was wrong here. Maybe it just wasn't true. That story, translated from the West German magazine Lies Mit!, No. 7, of March 3, 1955?: "SENSATIONAL SPACE DEVELOPMENTS, The Earth has two new moons", was based on truth, but was it the whole truth?

One of the first places I checked for data was our NICAP UFO chronologies.

On April 4, 1952, it showed that "Ruppelt Briefs Rand Corp. Satellite Project Gen. Garland arranges for the AF-Rand Corp. Satellite Project to receive a UFO briefing from Ruppelt on a visit to ATIC.  Ruppelt meets and befriends Rand satellite engineer Jim Thompson." (Brad Sparks)

I had heard about the RAND study, entitled, "Evolution of the U.S. Military Space Program, 1945-1960 quite a few years and sent copies to several colleagues in 2008. It was interesting that the report was half devoted to 1948. As a colleague told me then, "they don't want to discuss 1947 too much". What had happened in 1947 that involved satellites and the U.S. space program?

It was six years later, in September, of  1953 (Ref.2), a slip of the tongue by an officer of the U.S. Armed Forces then on duty in the Pentagon had put Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe on to the scent which led eventually to his discovery of the alleged secret and that the American authorities had first detected the presence of the two mystery satellites in the early summer and had commissioned Clyde Tombaugh to confirm and make further investigations for them. .

The Associated Press article (Ref. 3) in the New York Herald Tribune of May 15, 1954, had already reported that in a radio net­work interview the day before, Keyhoe had declared that the Earth "was being circled by one or more artificial satellites," and that this very important piece of news was being kept from the public.

Years later Keyhoe had said that "At least nine times, huge alien spacecraft had been seen or tracked in orbit, or as they descended nearer the Earth for brief periods."  He also said that during 1953, the AF began experiments with new long-range radar equipment. "While making the initial tests, AF operators were astonished to pick up a gigantic object orbiting near the equator. Its speed was almost 18,000 miles an hour. Repeated checks showed that the tracking was correct. Some huge unknown object was circling the Earth, six hundred miles out." (Ref. 16)

Brad Sparks:
"But there were no radar tracking stations on the equator (I challenge anyone to find such in 1953).  A satellite only 400 miles up would not be detectable from radars in Florida (the most likely southernmost location of experimental radars in 1953) but at 600 miles up it might have been possible, especially if it was not strictly over the equator but inclined a few degrees.  (A satellite at 400 miles directly over the equator can be seen up to about 25 degrees latitude; at 600 miles up to 30 degrees.)."

At the time of this writing I still do not have a list of the nine incidents Keyhoe was talking about. If this list, or clues to the incident dates, is in the NICAP files, I have yet to find it. These would have had to be random detections rather than that gained from systematic searches.

Brad Sparks:
"Satellites in equatorial orbits 400-600 miles up will be sunlit for 25-30 degrees of earth rotation or almost 2 hours after sunset and almost 2 hours before sunrise (the same 25-30 degs of latitude of radar visibility I cited for 400-600 mile sats).  That means that any equatorial satellite 400-600 miles up, which are therefore in 97-104 minute orbital periods, will be seen again AND again AND again virtually every night (twilight), every week, every month.  Depending on weather conditions in Ecuador where Tombaugh set up his cameras, there should be something like 60 "incidents" of trackings per satellite each month!  Not a piddly 9 "incidents"!

Keyhoe had mentioned the one incident, then he stated, "shortly after this a second enormous object approached the Earth. Tracked by AF radar experts, it also went into orbit, about 400 miles away." Again, I don't have the date on this, and I am asking the A-Team to help us locate and document some or all of these incidents. Keyhoe continues: "Alarmed Defense Department heads hurriedly set up an emergency satellite-detection project at White Sands, New Mexico. The scientist in charge of this secret search was Dr. Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of the planet Pluto, the only noted astronomer who had admitted sighting a UFO. The "sky sweep" was a combined armed forces project, under Army Ordnance Research."

Brad Sparks:
"Keyhoe's conversation with "Paul Redell" in Oct 1953 was the first mention of anything near the equator and it followed a leak from a (Navy?) Captain in Sept 1953 who mentioned something orbiting but not that it had anything to do with the equator (Keyhoe 1955 p. 33).  This report has only one satellite, between 400 and 600 miles up.  It is apparent given the way rumors are generated and mutate that since people didn't understand satellite orbits that the mere mention of two numbers, 400 miles and 600 miles, might have made some think that meant two satellites, one at 400 miles and the other at 600 miles, when in fact it simply means a single satellite with perigee at 400 miles and apogee at 600 miles.  That could finally resolve the whole rumor of 'two satellites.'"

Keyhoe wasn't the only one who had heard about these reports. In 1952 or 1953 Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the Director of Project Blue Book, accompanied by an OSI agent, visited with Dr. Lincoln LaPaz and discussed LaPaz' work. Later, Ruppelt had heard that LaPaz, along with Clyde Tombaugh, had established the fact that there were two "satellites" orbiting the Earth, one at 400 miles and the other at 600 miles. Ruppelt was sure that Aviation Week had first reported this also, and that LaPaz was convinced that the satellites were artificial, otherwise they would have been discovered earlier. On April 26, 1956, Ruppelt wrote Lapaz (Ref.4), saying he had heard this story many times and was hearing it every few days from professional people he was in contact with. LaPaz' denial (Ref 18) on May 26, 1956 says the story had no basis in fact, but it doesn't really prove anything.

One must remember that Clyde Tombaugh was one of the first scientists/astronomers to see and report a UFO. And Dr. Lincoln LaPaz was involved at Roswell and reported to the Pentagon that it was his opinion that the object he investigated (and he wasn't involved in the full recovery) was an unmanned interplanetary probe. So it could have been possible that there was more to the studies. All we know is......they were looking.

In February 1954, plans for the satellite search were described in an article for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Quoting Dr. Tombaugh, it said that special telescopic equipment would be used. Radar wasn't mentioned. The article had been written before the project began, and there was no hint of UFOs. The operation was called a search for natural objects.

Clyde Tombaugh & Dr. Lincoln LaPaz *

(Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discussing search for near-Earth satellites with University of New Mexico astronomer Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, March 3, 1954. Photo from Albuquerque Journal) *

On March 3, an official explanation, approved at the Pentagon, was released at White Sands. The armed forces, Army Ordnance stated, were searching for tiny moons or "moonlets," natural objects which had come in from space and were now orbiting the Earth. They had not been tracked or discovered sooner, a spokesman said, because they were following orbits near the equator and the scarcity of observatories there made them harder to locate. Also, special automatic-tracking cameras moving at the satellites' speed would be required, because such fast-moving objects gave off very little light and ordinary telescopic cameras would not reveal them. The armed forces' intention, the spokesman explained, was to locate suitable "moonlets" which could be used as space bases and for launching missiles for the country's defense.

Again, there was no hint that the unknown satellites might be intelligently controlled craft. The official statement implied that they were objects like asteroids and nothing serious was involved. It was accepted as a legitimate statement back then, but today we know better, much better. It was a preposterous explanation. For several asteroids or meteoroids to come in from space and just go into  a low and safe controlled orbit IS ridiculous.  And the armed force's intention, to "locate suitable 'moonlets' which could be used as space bases and for launching missiles for the country's defense", now seems ludicrous but LaPaz WAS saying this on March_21,_1954. (6) Even if there were moonlets out there, we would be hard pressed today to get them into a stable orbit and make missile launching bases from them.

But as Brad Sparks recently told me, Tombaugh's Army Ordnance contract to search for satellites was issued on Dec 5, 1952. This undercuts all the b.s. about Tombaugh suddenly being called in to do an "emergency" search after the purported satellite tracking in 1953.

Brad Sparks:
"Why has no one been able to obtain a copy of this Dec 5, 1952, Army-Tombaugh contract?  I thought Jan (Aldrich) might have been able to obtain a copy from the Tombaugh papers but I think Jan told me all he had was the final report that cited the contract by date, title and contract number, not the contract itself (if I'm remembering right what Jan said by phone).
"The 1952 Tombaugh contract would explain why he was proposing the project and might spill out something interesting.  Tombaugh submitted a 25-page proposal to the Army in June 1952.  Tombaugh's Final Report of June 30, 1959, states that he began the motion-compensating photographic telescope observations from Lowell Observatory in Dec 1953 looking for geostationary objects 22,000 miles up.  He tried various search zones and strategies, but none lower than 1,300 miles above the earth, and ending at Lowell on June 28, 1956.  A non-photographic visual telescopic and binocular patrol was run from Las Cruces March 21 to June 7, 1957, for possible satellites as low as 500 miles high and up to 3,340 miles.  Such visual patrols had begun at Lowell in Dec 1953 and continued to Oct 1958, but unclear what altitudes were covered.  The Quito, Ecuador, photographic search was conducted at different times from May 1956 to Nov 1958 and searched orbital heights from 550 to 2,000 miles, and there was also a visual patrol part of that time."
Tombaugh reported 8 one-shot photo trackings of "suspect" satellites, apparently in 1955 and 1957, none of which could be found a second time.  So he concluded these were not real satellites. (Sparks)

During October of '54 a new puzzle was linked with giant spaceships. In a press statement, NASA was supposed to have said it had picked up strange signals from an unknown orbiting object. (Ref. 19)  However, this comment was made in 1973 when NASA existed, but in 1954 NASA didn't exist. And after this, a French astronomer publicly revealed that he also had heard signals from an unknown source orbiting the Earth. According to the reports no message could be recognized. Apparently this was intersteller radio noise and nothing more came out of it.

Air Force interest began right after the first major sighting wave. The great flying saucer wave of 1947 (See Ref.7) involved at least 2,000 sightings, most of them flying discs, and ended within two weeks, right after the Roswell crash. The AAF began secret work on experimental radar in New Mexico. The main idea was to track captured German V-2s being tested at White Sands as high as possible.  Something must have happened during those experiments because in August of 1947 they were looking for something else! Something they must have known was there. As strange and unbelievable as this may seem, we have documented proof that similar incidents involving objects at orbital altitudes, and HOVERING, something we STILL cannot do, had already occurred.

It is fully documented that in August of 1947. (Ref.5) that an object at an orbital altitude WAS detected by experimental radar  years before the mystery satellite stories began to come out.  At least one incident actually occurred where a UFO was tracked at 200 miles up. And this tracking was not an accident. A radar was modified, aimed almost straight up, and there was a UFO!

In the 1951 version of the motion picture, "The Day The Earth Stood Still", the film starts out with an object being tracked by radar. The scene where the elliptical antenna is rotating demonstrates how a normal radar antenna configuration works. But if you flip that antenna over and aim it almost straight up (70 degrees) and extend the range, you have a way of following missiles up into outer space. In 1947 what happened after that is even stranger. Guess what? They weren't tracking a V-2 but they picked up something else. It was as if they knew something was there TO pick up. Not to mention the object was right over the Roswell area. If it didn't happen that way, then "somebody else" who knew we were looking, stepped into the beam. But it gets better. Here's what we found:

At Alamogordo in late August, 1947, Air Materiel Command's Watson Labs Project Mogul engineer Rosmovski and communications officer Lt. H. G. Markley tracked a STATIONARY target using this modified CPS-4 radar aimed at 70-degree elevation. The 90-mile range radar had been modified to track objects at a  250 mile range. The radar, aimed into outer space to look for targets picked up a target at 200 miles. Lucky for us the report leaked out. Project SIGN had sent two high-level investigators, but the prime witnesses were conveniently not available. Read the full report (5)

In the mid-50's we all started to look to the skies in a new way. After the launching of Sputnik I this was a new pastime. In 1956 and 1957 similar sightings of unidentified satellites were made by both professional and amateur astronomers.

Frank C. Clark, an amateur astronomer in New Mexico, saw an orbiting object September 8, 1956, during observations of the planet Mars. His account was printed in "The Strolling Astronomer" in October 1956. (Ref 8)

This all sounds very interesting, and is, but where is the proof? Are there any reports from those early days that give us a clue? The cameras were used to pick up the dimly lighted targets, especially near the equator, but was radar actually used in a satellite search? I could only find one report that even came close. And it wasn't near the equader.
April 24, 1949; 3 miles N of Arrey, New Mexico (BBU 358)
On this bright, clear Sunday morning in April, 1949, a detachment of Navy men and a group of scientists released a balloon from a point 57 miles northwest of the White Sands Proving Ground base. They were interested in getting weather data from the upper atmosphere, and as the balloon rose, they charted its flight as usual with a theodolite and a stop watch.  There were five observers in all; four of them coordinating the instrument data. One followed the balloon through the theodolite's telescope. One called off the readings. One recorded them, and the fourth man held the watch. Shortly after the balloon was aloft west of the observation point, the theodolite operator swung his instrument rapidly to the east. A strange object, seen by everyone present, had crossed the path of the balloon. The instrument man, confused, had followed it. Swiftly, one of the scientists grabbed the theodolite and began tracking the missile. An accurate plot of the object's course was recorded.  Analyzing this data later, Commander McLaughlin stated very definitely:
1.  The object, viewed in cross section, was elliptical in shape.
2.  It was about 105 feet in diameter.
3.  It was flying at an altitude of approximately 56 miles. (This was determined by a ballistics expert.  An object at a lower altitude on this particular bright day could not have fitted the data taken.  For security reasons, I cannot go deeper into this method of calculating altitude.)
4. Its speed was about 5 miles per second.  (Ref 12)
In other writeups by and about McLaughlin the estimated speed changes. And the final analysis is that the estimates were just that. Besides, in this case the object wasn't in orbit. It actually stopped and moved around. But doing all this would seem to prove that an actual orbiting object would be a much simpler activity anyway. So an orbiter (or 2) was  possible, but "where's the beef ?"

By the way, according to Brad Sparks, it was C B Moore who wrongly claimed in 1949 that his Arrey NM sighting might be at 18,000 mph because he was "assuming escape velocity" (quote is from Moore's report the Navy sent to CIA) and he mistakenly thought escape velocity was 5 mi/sec or 18,000 mph instead of 7 mi/sec and 25,000 mph.  "This misled McLaughlin so you should disregard this stuff in the (Ref 13) TRUE article as Un-True nonsense, along with all the associated altitude and size figures.  Moore assumed an arbitrary speed and distance just to see how the figures worked out, nothing more.  Could have been 10x closer, and then the speed would only be 1,800 mph, altitude 30,000 feet, etc."

Brad discovered this letter (Ref 17), dated May 12th, 1949. which was from Commander R. B. McLaughlin and was discussing his incident with a flying saucer at White Sands with scientist Dr. Van Allen. In the letter he mentioned that his first assumption led him to the conclusion that the object must have had a means of accelerating itself. His second assumption was that no one on this planet was sufficiently far advanced to fly such an object. "The original comes from the McDonald papers and McDonald received it from C B Moore on July 8, 1969, (McD's date stamp), a fact that no one else would know because they don't bother knowing the context of a document in a file, which can contain critically important data."

Strange orbiting objects were being observed and reported by those who's business it was to watch the skies.

August 25, 1960; Grumman Aviation; Bethpage, New York
The National Space Surveillance Control Center, Air Force command and control development division, attempted to work out an orbit for a strange object reported several times. But the scientists had only one solid observation to go on,  ­ the photographing of the object by Grumman Aviation Engineering Corp. at Bethpage, N.Y.  I remember reading our preliminary report in the NICAP U.F.O. Investigator back in 1961, and later seeing the article and a picture in LIFE or LOOK.  Our full report (Ref 14) has (linked) the detailed Grumman report that I was able to obtain a zerox copy of from Loy Pressley in June of 2002 which he had obtained a few years prior from Jan Aldrich. Mike Swords later provided the best image, a scanned version of Hynek's original. A better copy I cannot seem to locate.

Joel Carpenter stated that he had a copy of the Grumman satellite report, and he ran it by a guy who is a former CIA consultant on military satellite technology (Allen Thomson). Thompson said that the data in the Grumman report don't add up to a real orbit, so he didn't know what to make of it. It seems that there was something fishy about the Grumman object, whatever it was.

Brad Sparks:
"The Grumman object was in retrograde orbit, inclination angle to the equator about 135 degrees.  It would not show up on the next expected orbits every time.  Grumman put together a contract proposal to the AF to conduct an investigation.  I have not found any satellites launched in an inclination of about 135 degrees, not because it's physically impossible but wasteful as it goes against the earth's rotational boost into orbit.  Best possibility of explanation is a Soviet Luna probe or upper stage that looped back around the earth but on the wrong side into retrograde orbit.  But that would be extraordinarily lucky, extremely difficult to do even by design.  Impossible to have been the Discoverer 5's polar orbiting Agena upper stage fired in the wrong direction or any polar orbiting Discoverer (CIA Corona).  Flatout absolute physical impossibility total nonsense and hogwash.  Cannot have enough propellant to go off at 45 degrees. You would have to have another Atlas or Thor first stage up there to do that."

So in this case another unidentified satellite that was denied by the military, but this time Grumman tracked it. It was real and it probably wasn't launched from Planet Earth. Given the obvious evidence of UFO activity over that 15 year period it isn't that hard to appreciate the possibilities.

It doesn't take too much research to establish that the Black Knight satellite is a conglomeration of all the stories you've just read about, except that somebody later on discarded a thermal blanket in orbit and later our astronauts were able to actually pull alongside it and identify it for what it is/was.

The detailed report we filed, "An Anomalous Object Tracked Near Moon" can be read at  (Ref 15). The ULO-092196 event occurred two years after the Clementine mission, and a year before Lunar Prospector. No known man-made objects were in the vicinity of the moon, or in lunar orbit during this period. Almost 20 years later and there is still no satisfactory explanation for the brief but positive detection of an object that, by all calculations, had to be an orbiter. A few years ago there was an attempt by skeptics to explain this incident and identify the culprit captured in the Lunascan images. By placing a star chart that was computer generated and probably very accurate, skeptics thought that the mere registration of a known star over ULO-092196 was proof that the object actually was a star. What they didn't realize was, even with the billions of stars in the background that had to have a member very close to the unknown's position, no star was bright enough to be picked up by the Lunascan system. In all the years since 1996 NO star has ever been imaged near the Moon, especially the bright lunar limb.

Knowing what we know about UFOs and the major sighting waves we have experienced over the years, huge orbiting satellites of an unknown nature are certainly possible and highly probable. Given the nature of the physical and flight characteristics of the genuine UFOs, would it be necessary to have orbital mother-type craft? If UFOs are scout ships there probably was originally some type of carrier operation that put them here at first, especially if there was a need for a large operation (1947, 1952, 1957, etc). But there is evidence to indicate this type of craft has been observed without being in orbit. One such example was an event that was listed as case #8, on the official clearance list of 41 formerly classified Air Technical Intelligence UFO reports cleared for Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe by Albert M. Chop, Air Force Press Desk, one of the most astonishing UFO sightings in the BB files.

Without further evidence it is impossible to come to a positive conclusion on the existence of mystery satellites in the early 1950's. But this is a start. This report just might be updated.

Update: 22 March 2015

Brad Sparks:
I found some serious discrepancies between the Interim and Final Tombaugh Reports.  The Interim Report is vague and suppresses the exact number of 7 "good suspect" satellites filmed in Flagstaff, cited in the Final, and of course suppresses any details given in the Final (the altitudes ranging from 1,307 to 2,717 miles).  In fact, the Interim Report falsely claims the lowest altitude that was "feasible" to search from Flagstaff was "1,500 miles" (Interim p. 10) whereas the Final Report states the lowest "feasible" altitude was "1,307 miles" (Final p. 13).  It is no small matter since 3 of the "good suspects" would be cut off within this deleted altitude zone (at 1,307, 1,337 and 1,407 miles).
The Final Report suppresses the fact that the first moderately low altitude satellite search (~2,000 miles high) was conducted in Feb 1954 (Interim p. 12) apparently about Feb 1-7, 1954, based on the Feb 3 New Moon date (they had to avoid moonlight so they filmed only a few days before and after New Moon).  The Final Report misleadingly suggests this search was first conducted about Nov 1954. This opens up the possibility that the first "good suspect" satellite was filmed sometime in Feb 1-7, 1954, which might explain the leaks and publicity that began in late Feb 1954 (Keyhoe 1955 p. 102 refers to a Frank Edward broadcast a week before March 1).
Lastly, the Interim Report states that it was planned to search for satellites as low as 300 miles altitude from Ecuador (Interim p. 20) but the Final Report says nothing about such a low altitude being scanned from Ecuador and states it was 550 miles at lowest (Final pp. 58, 59).  The Final Report obtusely slips in the fact that a special telescopic drive was designed for Ecuador with a 7,200 deg/hour rate (Final pp. 26, 29), which one has to calculate to realize must correspond to a satellite about 140 miles up.  A "natural" satellite at only 300 miles up would decay from air friction. 
A 300-mile orbit obviously suggests the alleged 400-mile satellite (and covering a little below as well as above). 
More information will be posted as it comes available.

1. West German magazine Lies Mit!, No. 7, of March 3, 1955
Donald Keyhoe's second book, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, in Chapter 2,
A.P. (Associated Press) item (3) in the New York Herald Tribune of May 15, 1954
4. Letter to LaPaz from Edward Ruppelt, dated April 29, 1956
5. August, 1947; Alamogordo (
FOIA, Loren Gross, Aug-Dec 1947 SUPP p.28.)
6. March 21, 1954, LaPaz article, LaPaz Warns That First Nation With Base In The Sky To Rule World
7. The Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 (Bloecher)
UFO_Investigator, DEC-JAN 1960-61, pg. 8 (NICAP)
9. UFOs: A History 1947, 53
10. UFOs A History 1947,
51-52 (202)
Letter to Dr. Van Allen from Commander McLaughlin, dated May 12, 1949
12. April 24, 1949; 3 mi. N of Arrey, New Mexico (BBU 358)
Article in TRUE Magazine, Mar1950
New Frontiers of Science
16. Aliens From Space, 1973 
17. Letter of May 12, 1949 from Mclaughlin to Van-Allen (Brad Sparks)
18. May 21, 1956 response to Ruppelt from LaPaz
19. Aliens From Space, 161 (Keyhoe, 1973)