Why Some Say The Black Knight Satellite Is A 13,000-Year-Old Alien Spaceship

Published July 6, 2021
Updated April 13, 2023

It's unclear how exactly the Black Knight Satellite conspiracy theory began, but the premise is clear: a UFO has orbited Earth for millennia — and NASA is covering it up.

In 2017, conspiracy theorists claimed the Illuminati had shot down a UFO. They called the object the “Black Knight Satellite” and said it had been orbiting Earth for more than 13,000 years when leaders of the secret society took action.

It was a wild claim, but it was only the latest to bring widespread attention to a shifting conspiracy theory that dates back to 1973.

Black Knight Satellite

Future/Adrian MannAn artist’s rendering of the Black Knight Satellite.

The premise maintains that an extraterrestrial spacecraft has been orbiting Earth since the Stone Age. Some believe that NASA and various governments have actively covered this up. Meanwhile, experts are adamant that nothing but scientific misunderstandings of space debris and radio signals are to blame.

Believers assert that evidence for the existence of the Black Knight Satellite dates back at least as far as the 19th century, when Nikola Tesla received a series of bizarre radio transmissions at his Colorado Springs laboratory. And it goes right up to a mysterious 1998 NASA photograph that captured a strange object in orbit.

Early Evidence For The Black Knight Satellite

Nikola Tesla Experimental Station

Wikimedia CommonsNikola Tesla’s experimental station in Colorado Springs.

The evidence for the Black Knight Satellite comes from an amalgamation of several discrete events throughout history that theorists have assembled over the past 100 years.

Many were only retroactively added on, like the notion that famed physicist Nikola Tesla unwittingly discovered alien transmissions from the object in 1899.

While working in his Colorado laboratory, Tesla had perfected a highly sensitive wireless radio receiver and received a series of unexpected electrical signals. Tesla interpreted them as a series of numeric codes and believed them to come from “highly intelligent beings” on Mars.

Black Knight Satellite obsessives are adamant he was mistaken, and that the signals he received were the first time aliens on the satellite attempted to communicate with humans on Earth.

More evidence came in 1927, believers claim, when Norwegian engineer Jørgen Hals made a shocking discovery. While conducting experiments in radio transmission, Hals picked up a series of signal echoes that came back three seconds after his transmissions had ended. These signals, called Long Delayed Echoes, have been observed since but never fully explained.

Then, in 1954, The New York Times published a claim by UFO researcher Donald Keyhoe that a Pentagon source had confirmed the existence of two “natural satellites” orbiting Earth. The Army Office Of Ordnance Research had enlisted a team of astronomers to search for near-Earth satellites, but the leaders of the project denied ever having discovered any.

The Conspiracy Grows To Include A Government Cover-Up

Black Knight Satellite Off South Africa

NASAThe “Black Knight Satellite” observed off the South African coast in 1998.

Conspiracists regard the 1954 article and denial not only evidence of the Black Knight Satellite’s existence, but also of a government cover-up. The launch of actual satellites by Russia in 1957 and the U.S. in 1958 muddied the waters even further.

The U.S. Navy picked up a “dark, tumbling object” on radar on Feb. 11, 1960, which the Defense Department alleged was merely space debris from an Air Force Discoverer satellite. Declassified Pentagon papers later revealed this was a lie, and the object was in fact an American reconnaissance satellite launched to spy on Russia.

The following year, famed ufologist Jacques Vallée claimed he had recorded footage of a UFO that was in retrograde orbit around Earth’s rotation — until it was ominously confiscated, furthering charges that NASA was hiding something.

Epsilon Botis Map

International Astronomical UnionA map of the star that Duncan Lunan purported the 1927 radio signals were sent from — a claim he later retracted.

Then, in 1973, a science fiction writer named Duncan Lunan originated a theory that united all these events, and the current story was born.

Lunan told the magazine Spaceflight that a 13,000-year-old UFO orbiting the Earth was to blame for the bizarre sightings and signals. He even claimed to have decoded them as a message and said they were instructions from an alien race on a double star named “Epsilon Boötis.”

Lunan later withdrew his fantastical claim and firmly stated he wanted nothing to do with “the Black Knight Satellite nonsense.”

But by then the conspiracy had spread within UFO circles without him. And by 1998, believers were primed to disbelieve anything NASA told them, especially about an official photograph they could see with their own eyes.

Debunking The Black Knight UFO

NASA Headquarters

Wikimedia CommonsNASA has never wavered from the fact that the UFO in its 1998 imagery was nothing but a thermal blanket.

According to NASA, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the photo in question. The International Space Station was under construction, and NASA sent the first Space Shuttle mission to help with the build.

The shuttle had brought equipment along, including four thermal blanket covers meant to insulate the station’s trunnion pins. But one of these blankets came loose during a space walk and floated off.

“Jerry, one of the thermal covers got away from you,” Commander Robert Cabana radioed astronaut Jerry Ross.

Some of the countless photographs snapped by astronauts during that time captured the thermal covering’s silhouette. There it was, a shadowy and mysterious object floating in outer space above a cloudy planet. The object, dubbed 025570, fell from orbit a few days later and burned up forever.

NASA Image Of The Black Knight Satellite

NASAThis photo was captured in 1998 during NASA’s first Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station, spawning renewed interest in the Black Knight Satellite.

It’s unlikely that Russian astronaut Sergei Krikalev knew just how misinterpreted the photo he took would become. Former NASA space engineer James Oberg, however, is well aware of just how vast the schism between professionals who are capable of going to outer space and those who dissect their imagery can be.

“Before leaving NASA I led the trajectory design team that produced the mission profile,” he said. “Every step of the way there is consistency with what I learned as a lifelong spaceflight operations specialist: why the blankets were needed, why one of them came loose, why it floated off the way it did.”

“The difference is, for the general public all these features are unearthly to folks who are only familiar with Earthside principles of heating, working, motion and dozens of other never-before-encountered-in-history aspects of outer space.”

Tesla’s strange radio transmissions have also been explained in the years since he wrote about them. The scientific consensus is that he likely encountered electromagnetic signals that are emitted from pulsars, which were not discovered until the 1960s.

Of course, there’s no actual consensus on which object specifically the Black Knight Satellite really is. And as it stands for Black Knight Satellite conspiracy theorists, no explanation for these pieces of evidence, or any other, can rule out its existence.

After learning about the Black Knight Satellite, read about the U.S. military’s mysterious Montauk Project. Then, learn about the disturbing mysteries of New Mexico’s Dulce Base.

Marco Margaritoff
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.