Date: September 26, 2011
Subject: Thread regarding the Mystery Satellites of the 1950's
Uncatalogued report for site search only


From: "Jan Aldrich" <project1947@earthlink.net>
To: <currentencounters@currentencounters.net>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 07:16:36 -0400
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellite of Aug. 25, 1960

Fran,

Mystery sats in the early 1950s are bs.  Rumors and distortions of LaPaz and Tombaugh.  Tombaugh had a contract to look for possible natural satellites around the earth and moon.  None were found.  LaPaz usually a very tight lipped fellow who wrote Tombaugh bragging about how his daughters were absolutely the best security assistants he ever had......LaPaz, however, went to the press about the satellite search.  Tombaugh wrote him a letter in which he was unhappy with LaPaz's lack of discretion.

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Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 07:02:58 -0500
From: Francis Ridge <nicap@insightbb.com>
Subject: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites

At 06:16 AM 9/24/2011, Jan wrote:
Fran,

Mystery sats in the early 1950s are bs.  Rumors and distortions of LaPaz and Tombaugh.  Tombaugh had a contract to look for possible natural satellites around the earth and moon.  None were found.

Jan,
That was the whole problem. There was evidence of something orbiting. And as we have come to know the fact, unattended orbiters don't stay in orbit. And its also difficult to imagine, given the parameters needed, that things simply assume any kind of natural orbit.

I wish we could find O'Dell's article.

Keyhoe:

In February 1954, plans for a (unknown) satellite search were described in an article for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Quoting Dr. (Clyde) Tombaugh, it said that special telescopic equipment would be used. The article had been written before the project began, and there was no hint of giant space­ships. The operation was called a search for natural objects. But the press quickly sensed a hidden story. At White Sands, Army Ordnance officials were deluged with questions. Were there actually unknown satellites? Where had they come from? How many were there? Had this ever happened before?

At first, the censors started to cover up, but Dr. Tombaugh persuaded them this was unwise. 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.

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 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.

For the first few days there was fear at the Pentagon that this debunking claim might be publicly rejected. At AF Headquarters there was an added worry. If the "moonlet" cover-up failed, the true spaceship answer might emerge as the only alternative. If it did, this could revive a disturbing article on possible alien migration to our world.

The AF had good reason to fear any such spotlight. For the article had been written by a high AF Intelligence officer, Col. W. C. Odell. Why it had ever been written was a puzzle. Even more mystifying, it had been cleared by AF Security and Review, at a time when the great sighting wave of 1952 was still fresh in many minds.

Entitled "Planet Earth-Host to Extraterrestrial Life," the article began with these words:

Granted that superintelligents in another solar system are looking for a suitable planet for a second home, why would Earth be singled out?

Colonel Odell had avoided melodramatics, but his quiet suggestions had a powerful impact. According to his theory, alien beings from a dying planet were considering and surveying our world as a new home, a planet similar enough to their own so that they could survive here and perpetuate their race. Colonel Odell did nothing to indicate a violent occupation of Earth. But if his evaluation was right, then planet Earth might become, peacefully or not, a "host to extra­terrestrial life."

When this surprising article was shown to me at the Penta­gon I was amazed that it had been cleared for publication. At the request of AF UFO spokesman Albert M. Chop, I had a New York editor friend read the manuscript. But the AF stipulations disturbed him. Odell was not to be identified as an AF officer. Also the clearance by AF Security and Review was not to be mentioned. What bothered the editor most was this official clearance when the AF was still debunking UFOs in public statements. He finally decided not to risk being involved in some power play at the Pentagon, although the article would undoubtedly get national attention.

In the next few weeks Colonel Odell's manuscript was shown to a few selected members of the Washington press corps. Apparently the AF restrictions worried them too; so far as I know, it was never published, at least not by any national news service or magazine.

But headquarters censors, who had been bypassed by Security and Review, knew Colonel Odell's migration article had not been forgotten. If the growing evidence of giant spaceships became public, the Intelligence colonel's conclusion would probably be tied in, adding to the risk of hysteria.

Source: "Aliens From Space", pages 1958-1960.

Fran

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Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 12:57:56 -0400
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites

Hi Fran.

Probably there was NO evidence of something orbiting during the "mystery satellite" flap.  Both Tombaugh's and Walter Haas' papers support this as being spurious.  Haas was the head of APLO and editor of the Strolling Astronomer and in contact with both LaPaz and Tombaugh, but maybe even more importantly was in contact with all those people outside conventional astronomer, reporters of lunar meteor impacts and TLPs. The whole thing probably originated with distortions of what was going on at the time.

Short history.

1.  LaPaz got Alex Mebane (CSI-NY) to screen newspapers for Chant 1916 meteor train.  Results were published in U of NM Institute of Meteroritic journal which hinted at the idea that these might be captured natural satellites.  Scientific converse ensues.   LaPaz vs. Wylie (old rivalry?). The idea of satellite velocity meteor or captured meteors got a boost.

2.  This is about the same time that as this is going the wider public announcements that the US will launch a satellite during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). in 1957 came out.  Everywhere in the press the wonders of satellites rose ;public awareness. Also, the conquest of space supposed at the time would have space stations in orbit around the earth as way stations to the planets..  So if ET came here they might do the same setting up a base in orbit.

3.  LaPaz also stared to talk to the local press about the possible danger to satellites and space travel from unknown orbiting satellites.  .

4.  The govt contracted with Clyde Tombaugh (previous Tombaugh worked for LaPaz.  So they kept in close touch.) for a search for natural satellites.

5.  Uncharacteristically LaPaz (and probably others leaked information about the Tombaugh's contract.  LaPaz almost always has security foremost in his mine, even bragging to Tombaugh how good his daughters as his assistants were in the security area.).  The rumors started said that LaPaz himself was looking for mystery satellites at the behest of the govt.

6.  Rumors grow that there are actual mystery satellites up there including stories in newspapers and Aviation Week ("Aviation Leak").  Keyhoe picked up this material with his own spin in FSC.  Had this been the NICAP era, I think Hall would have moderated that somewhat.

7.  Tombaugh let LaPaz know that he was unhappy about LaPaz's loose talk, reminded him that the satellite search discussion was on the QT.  (Perhaps this was the origin of Hynek's comment to CSI-NY that LaPaz was in bad odour with the AF.)

8. Tombaugh found nothing using North American equipment and observers.  His reasoning is if there are such satellites, they would be around the equator. He dispatched a graduate student to Ecuador.  At an observatory there a large quantities of photographs were made for natural satellites to support the search.  Results were negative as was a cursory search for a lunar satellite..

Two other minor comments:  In 1957-8 the Yugoslav newspapers claim they tried to orbit a satellite in 1954.  In 1961 the Poles claimed they had discovered a natural satellite around earth.

As Mike Swords and Barry Greenwood have both researched this aspect of UFO history I am send this message to them if they care to comment or correct my version.

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Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 13:52:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: michael swords <mswords@att.net>
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites
To: Francis Ridge <nicap@insightbb.com>

Fran, Jan, as usual, speaks the truth. Take it to the bank. We have copies of the Tombaugh satellite study proposal and know exactly what they were all about there.

As far as Odell's article is concerned: I sort-of reconstructed it from Keyhoe's notes that he apparently took while reading it [notes from NICAP files]. "Ain't Purrfect" I'm sure, but probably is pretty accurate. It's in an old IUR.


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From: brad sparks
Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:14:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites


See my comments interspersed below.

Brad



Brad:  I don't think we have the full story yet, and the verdict should await things like FOIA or archival govt records of what was really going on at the time.  For example, with the 1960 mystery satellite, in retrograde orbit, all we knew for many years was rumors in the press.  Now we have declassified documents proving the matter was taken quite seriously and went up to the White House and National Security Council in Feb 1960, so it was no joke and something was definitely tracked in space, tracked by the Naval Space Surveillance radar fence.

Jan:
Short history.

1.  LaPaz got Alex Mebane (CSI-NY) to screen newspapers for Chant 1916
meteor train.  Results were published in U of NM Institute of Meteroritic
journal which hinted at the idea that these might be captured natural
satellites.  Scientific converse ensues.   LaPaz vs. Wylie (old rivalry?).
The idea of satellite velocity meteor or captured meteors got a boost.

Brad:  The C. A. Chant meteor fireball procession was in 1913.  This LaPaz-Mebane newspaper research project on the Chant fireball was published in late 1956 in LaPaz's Meteoritics journal.  This could not have influenced the satellite search begun by Tombaugh in 1952 (see below on the 1952 date).

Mebane in his 1956 paper comments that it was Charles Fort who suggested the Chant objects were spaceships, but it should be "ruled out" as "unacceptable" because the sightings were meteor-like based on the new data from the newspapers, Mebane says.  That conclusion would have thrown the wet blanket on wild speculations if anyone was influenced by it at all.

Jan:
2.  This is about the same time that as this is going the wider public
announcements that the US will launch a satellite during the International
Geophysical Year (IGY). in 1957 came out.  Everywhere in the press the
wonders of satellites rose ;public awareness. Also, the conquest of space
supposed at the time would have space stations in orbit around the earth as
way stations to the planets..  So if ET came here they might do the same
setting up a base in orbit.

Brad:  No this sequence of events is out of order.  Tombaugh was looking for satellites beginning in Dec 1952, according to the Condon Report and probably the ASP article of Feb 1954 (I am out of town and can't access my files) that Keyhoe cites.  The LA Times on Nov 16, 1953, had a long article about Tombaugh's search for satellites suspected to orbit the earth from 10,000 miles up to the moon's orbit at 240,000 miles, including possible geostationary satellites at 22,000 miles.  The article said Tombaugh had already started his search for Army Ordnance, using a special 8-inch Schmidt telescope camera.  The US IGY plans for launching a satellite were announced in July 1955 over a YEAR later, if not close to 3 YEARS after Tombaugh began his satellite quest in 1952. 

See NASA's Vanguard history and many others that could be quoted:

http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/sputorig.html

"In October 1954 at a meeting in Rome, Italy, the Council [on the IGY] adopted another resolution calling for the launch of artificial satellites during the IGY [in 1957-8] to help map the Earth's surface. The Soviet Union immediately announced plans to orbit an IGY satellite, virtually assuring that the United States would respond, and this, coupled with the military satellite program, set both the agenda and the stage for most space efforts through 1958. The next year [July 1955] the U.S. announced Project Vanguard, its own IGY scientific satellite program."

What inspired Tombaugh to conduct his search in 1952?  Tombaugh had two unexplained UFO sightings in 1949 and 1952.  Maybe it was the UFO that inspired the search.

Jan:
3.  LaPaz also stared to talk to the local press about the possible danger
to satellites and space travel from unknown orbiting satellites.  .

Brad:  As far as I can tell, LaPaz did not speak out publicly on satellites until long after Army Ordnance officially released the story through its spokesman in Pasadena Dr James Edson, in Nov 1953.  LaPaz was "outed" to the press on the satellite search in Feb 1954, and he vehemently denied the whole story, though it was reinforced by Aviation Week etc.  All long long before any US or Russian space plans in Oct 1954-July 1955 could have excited the public imagination.


Jan:
4.  The govt contracted with Clyde Tombaugh (previous Tombaugh worked for
LaPaz.  So they kept in close touch.) for a search for natural satellites.

Brad:  I am dubious about Tombaugh working for LaPaz -- when and in what capacity and according to what sources?  As I understand it Tombaugh worked for White Sands as head of optical instrumentation and tracking for the missile range.


Jan:
5.  Uncharacteristically LaPaz (and probably others leaked information about
the Tombaugh's contract.  LaPaz almost always has security foremost in his
mine, even bragging to Tombaugh how good his daughters as his assistants
were in the security area.).  The rumors started said that LaPaz himself was
looking for mystery satellites at the behest of the govt.

6.  Rumors grow that there are actual mystery satellites up there including
stories in newspapers and Aviation Week ("Aviation Leak").  Keyhoe picked up
this material with his own spin in FSC.  Had this been the NICAP era, I
think Hall would have moderated that somewhat.

7.  Tombaugh let LaPaz know that he was unhappy about LaPaz's loose talk,
reminded him that the satellite search discussion was on the QT.  (Perhaps
this was the origin of Hynek's comment to CSI-NY that LaPaz was in bad odour
with the AF.)

Brad:  Well, the Army officially disclosed Tombaugh's search in Nov 1953, which confounds the idea that LaPaz was the one who "leaked" it all to the press in 1954.  The story 3 months later in Feb 1954 LINKING LaPaz to Tombaugh in the satellite search might have been a stray rumor possibly spilled out by LaPaz himself, but he didn't leak the whole story of Tombaugh conducting a satellite search, just added a detail that he (LaPaz) was involved in some way.  When this unleashed a press frenzy LaPaz tried to back out of it. 

Brad


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Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:02:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: michael swords <mswords@att.net>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites
To: Francis Ridge <nicap@insightbb.com>

Jan's view is still essentially accurate. The military was interested in "taking the high ground" via satellites ever since RAND started. In 1952, key people like AMCs Amron Katz were permanently loaned to RAND to work on the satellite cameras. I also believe that things like Fritz Zwicky's rail-gun experiments were coming close to orbiting small junk anyway in the late 1940s. There is no question that the intel community wanted eyes in space and something up there of their own. 

As to whether Tombaugh worked for LaPaz or not: it might be a matter of nomenclature. Tombaugh's observation teams [for rocket launches, etc] were out at night all the time, and it was of military interest to get meteoritic data to LaPaz [erosion patterns on the meteorite surfaces were felt to tell you something about how you needed to construct high-altitude attack rockets etc.; so you wanted to be able to harvest landed meteorites].  Tombaugh certainly worked closely with LaPaz at least. 

"Tombaugh was looking for satellites in 1952". Heck Tombaugh was looking for everything all the time. Mars was a particular obsession. The point would be whether there was any evidence that he was TOLD to look for satellites. 

<>What the Chant Meteor Procession has to do with any of this I can't imagine. Everyone knows it happened four decades previous. It genuinely fascinates everyone who deeply studies it and is the way that Lex Mebane got to know Lincoln LaPaz well. 


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Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:41:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: michael swords <mswords@att.net>
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] Mystery satellites

Fran, Keyhoe was simply wrong about his inferences about Tombaugh's study. Tombaugh, if memory serves, even tried to explain it to him later. [this explanation didn't happen immediately as the proposal was classified --- this is my recollection; if it's important for any reason I can nail all the details down when I'm back in Michigan in a week]. This study was not inspired by some early satellite observations, but rather the military/scientific prediction that we humans were close to orbiting such things, and it would be a good idea to prepare a detection mechanism for that.

 Keyhoe's idea that the intel community was getting Earth-Orbiting object reports in 1954, was a misreading of the vague leaks he was getting and which he filtered by his UFO obsession.

 The objects from the 1960 era were the exact opposite. Not only the Grumman photo but several other cases were genuinely unsolvable [one by a professional astronomer in Chicago who basically snorted derision when Kuiper made up an explanation]. This was all in another IUR article.  Mike

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