From Earth To the Moon: Rockets, Satellites & Other (UFO) Spacecraft


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From the Earth to the Moon: Rockets, Satellites and Other (UFO) Spacecraft 

by Franz W. Nentwich

 (Copyright 2015, Franz Nentwich – All Rights Reserved)

NASA Photo - Earth and Moon as seen from Outer Space 



Major satellite launches have often been followed by UFO sightings soon afterwards, for example, after Sputnik I and II in 1957. In Ottawa, Canada, UFOs were seen on March 3, 1969 after the Apollo 9 launch, on June, 5, 1969 after a suborbital (failed launch) to the moon by the Soviet Union, and in July, 1969, as Apollo 11 orbited the moon. These correlations, among others, suggest that major rocket launches, especially those extending out of near-Earth orbits, tend to stimulate UFO activity.


Major rocket launches have often been followed by UFO activity, possibly coordinated from outposts on the moon (Lorenzen, 1966, pp. 266, 267).

By 1969, however, there were so many rocket launches and UFO sightings that any attempt to establish correlations between them would be difficult.  A decade earlier, there were fewer objects in orbit, though many suborbital flights were still taking place in the late 1940s.  To establish the proper sequence of events in this article, Universal Time (designated Z for Zulu) will be given, as well as some local (24 hour time) equivalents (in parentheses).

Following the launch of Sputnik 1 from Baikonur, which the Encyclopedia Astronomica (1957) recorded as onOctober 4, 1957 at 19:28 Z (Oct. 5, 0:28 local time), Lorenzen (1966, p. 65) reported that a 23 year-old farmer in Brazil, Antonio Villas-Boas, observed a nearby area “…lighted as if by a giant searchlight” at about 11 p.m. local time (Oct. 6, 02:00 Z).

This observation was therefore made 30 hours, 32 minutes after the Sputnik I launch.  Subsequently, while plowing a field on October 14, the same farmer saw a cartwheel-shaped UFO about 122 meters (400 feet) off the ground, an observation suggesting a UFO for the earlier Oct. 5 source of light.

UFO activity spiked after the launches of Sputnik I and II, as numerous reports in the NICAP 1957 Sighting Wave Chronology (2014) reveal.  Only 1.5 to 4 hours after the Sputnik II launch on Nov. 3, 1957 at 2:30 Z, for instance, a glowing egg-shaped object landed on roads and stalled car engines near Levelland, Texas; on Nov. 4, a UFO was tracked for 20 minutes on radar and was seen by two people at Kirtland Airforce Base (Hynek, 1972; Encyclopedia Astronomica, 1957).

Also on Nov. 4, 1957 at 05:03 Z a large disc-shaped UFO with an orange glow descended at an army garrison at Itaipu, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and produced a wave of heat that struck two soldiers, causing first- and second degree burns to 10 percent of their bodies (Lorenzen, 1966).

In some UFO cases, the time lag between a rocket launch and a UFO sighting has been relatively short.

For example, a UFO tracked a Polaris missile during test firing on January 10, 1961; similarly in 1964 soon after another launch, a UFO intercepted an Atlas rocket (Dolan, 2000; Fox & Coleman, 2007).  Most surprisingly, perhaps,only four minutes after launch of a rocket carrying China’s first female astronaut on June 16, 2012, an infrared video camera recorded two glowing UFOs nearby (Good, 2013).  If it is assumed that UFO responses are coordinated from a Moon base, then launches made from the side of the Earth hidden from UFOs on the Moon would not be as rapid (and the launch site would be obscured), as if they were made from the side of the Earth facing the Moon.  These relationships could explain different time lags between rocket launches and UFO sightings, though this would assume that the UFOs were all stationed on the Moon at launch times.

March 4, 1969, Ottawa, Canada

Less than 34 hours after launch of Apollo 9 on March 3 at 15:00 Z , a round UFO was observed on Parliament Hill by seven RCMP officers between 0:45 and 2:34 Z. Twenty-six minutes later another RCMP officer reported two red flashing lights in the sky above Sussex Drive without any associated engine noise (Bondarchuck, 1979).

June 4 to 6, 1969 Rocket Launches

In addition to the three rocket launches on June 5 described by Nentwich (2008), there was a fourth launch, namely aSoviet Luna mission to the Moon, which failed to achieve orbit.

Although this launch was excluded from Clark’s (1977) list of Luna launch failures, Greg Kennedy, compiler of the online “Chronology of Human Space Exploration Part 5: 1967-1974”  informed me in an email on Oct. 17, 2008 that the ‘Mission Planner’s Manual Proton Commercial Launch Vehicle’ document, printed in 1989 by the Space Commerce Corporation in Houston listed the launch on June 5th, with the note that the second stage failed, while the 1996 TRW Space Log listed the same launch as June 4th, also pointing out that it failed to orbit.

The ideal time for this launch, as given in a “1969 June 1 – Soviet lunar plans”, would have been June 3, 1969 at 23:18 Z, and because Soviet lunar launches were usually within an hour of the ideal time, as noted by Clark (1977), an early June 4th launch seems to be the most likely. In fact, Sokolov (2001) confirmed the Luna launch on June 4 or earlier, stating that because of an electrical problem (p. 461) “…the upper stage could not fire. The complex fell into the Pacific Ocean.”

In addition, he pointed out that another rocket was launched after Luna on June 4, 1969 which reached a height of only 100 metres, at which point it exploded with a power of about ten (10) kilotons!  <Editer’s note: The Hiroshima A-Bomb aproximately equaled 20 kilotons>

Could this explosion have caused a UFO response as well?

June 5, 1969 UFOs in South and North America

A resident of Uba, Brazil was driving in a car with six passengers when at 09:00 Z their car was “…pursued by a bright orange-colored object which flew around in circles above them, producing interference with the car radio and stopping the engine for a few moments” (Flying Saucer Review Case Histories, 1971, p. 16; UFOCAT, 2005). In addition, several witnesses also observed a UFO after 20:00 Z at a lake 60 km west of Quebec City, Canada.

Between 22:50 and 23:00 Z, more than 50 witnesses reported UFOs in Iowa (Southern Illinoisan, June 6, 1969; Muscatine Journal, June 6, 1969). Dr. J. Allen Hynek “stated he understood the phenomenon was flashing silver, orange and copper colored, with chunks flying off of it”, while other reports told of two or three objects with bluish-green wakes (Southern Illinoisan, June 6, 1969, p. 14). Dr. Hynek suggested that the objects could have been parts of a re-entering Russian satellite, although an official with the Space Defence Center stated that “…it was highly unlikely that the objects were from a satellite because one is rarely placed in an east-west orbit.” (Daily Capital News, June 7, 1969, p. 1)

The IOWA Fireball of June 6th, 1969

Iowa Fireball seen in above link- June 2014


An FAA official stated that sightings at Riverside and Iowa City, were “…variously described as a bright ball of fire, flash[ing] and cigar-shaped objects” with “Colors…from silver to blue and blue-green” (Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 6, 1969, p. 4).  The azimuth of the ground path of the “Iowa Fireball” on the map of plate 4 in Klass (1975) was about 272º, equivalent to an inclination of 178º, and therefore larger than the maximum reported inclination of any satellite launched up to that time.

Here it should be noted that the ground path of a satellite is determined by the inclination of its orbit, which is the angle between the Earth’s equatorial plane and a spacecraft’s orbital plane (major axis).  Of the thousands of launch-related items in the NORAD Catalog (2012) prior to June 7, 1969, with the exception of 13 which did not re-enter the atmosphere in the June 4 to 6 time interval, the maximum inclinations were all less than 121º, corresponding to azimuths larger than 329º but less than 90º.

Three (3) satellites were expected to re-enter June 5 or 6 but would not cross the sky from east to west (Southern Illinoisan, Friday, June 6, 1969, p. 14).

A Soviet rocket body (NORAD ID 3223) with an inclination of 64.8º (25.2º azimuth) re-entered the atmosphere on June 5, as listed in the NORAD Catalog (2012), but obviously did not have the east to west ground path of the “Iowa fireball”.

Cosmos 284 had an inclination of 62.3º (azimuth 27.7º), re-entering the atmosphere on June 6 at 5:46 Z, making a soft landing in the Soviet Union (Fairbanks Daily News, June 6, 1969, p. 1; NORAD Catalog, 2012;

For all of these reasons, Cosmos 284 was not responsible for the “Iowa fireball” and, in o summary, neither a rocket launch nor a re-entering satellite explains the “Iowa fireball”.

This leaves us with the only other possibilities: 

Meteors or UFOs


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory concluded that the “Iowa fireball” had been a meteor, and members of itsMeteorite Recovery Project proposed a landing site in southern Iowa (Blue Book files, 1969; Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 7, 1969).  However, the following descriptions from several witnesses should be considered before drawing such a conclusion. For instance, a pilot, a teenager and a woman described the object “…as blue and circular, with no wings or indication of a propulsion system…flying east to west above the runway at an altitude of less than 1,000 feet” and with a speed between 483 and 644 km/hr (300 and 400 mph) (Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 6, 1969, p. 3).

A witness north in St. Louis, Missouri reported three objects in a line heading WNW for 60 to 80 seconds, with shapes resembling elongate badminton shuttlecocks (Blue Book files, 1969, p. 14 – 21). A student in East St. Louis, Illinois saw three bright self-luminous, lime-green oval objects beside each other about 805 meters (half a mile) away, decreasing in altitude from 518 to 457 meters (1,700 to 1,500 feet), whereas another witness saw four objects in a line heading west, one of which was oval-shaped with a blue-silver tail (Blue Book Files, 1969, p. 24 – 42).

Several other witnesses saw one of the objects speeding up relative to the other two, while a civilian 53 km (33 miles) northwest of downtown Chicago saw a single tear-drop shaped object (silvery-aqua color), with a tail 10 times as long as the diameter of the head, and with a piece falling upwards from the object as it traveled silently straight and level(Blue Book Files, 1969).

The most easterly sighting was made by a pilot and two other persons in an airplane near Greenfield, Indiana, who, for about 30 seconds saw a single object with an almost metallic “face” south of Greenfield heading west (Blue Book files, 1969, pp. 47-50).   Its trajectory was south of the one shown in plate 4 of Klass (1975), such that different objects were travelling along separate parallel paths.

To summarize, the object(s) had the following characteristics, some of which were not meteor-like: a silvery metallic appearance; flying without being heard; one “piece” moving upwards; one object speeding up relative to the other two; a change in relative positions of the objects from one after another to one beside the other; visibility in flight for over a minute; apparent shapes resembling either a tear-drop, oval, cone, bullet or badminton shuttlecock.

The most compelling evidence for a UFO interpretation, however, was described in a UFO Investigator (1972) article, based on a sighting by an FAA controller and several pilots, who were flying east near St. Louis, Missouri on June 5.  Interestingly, a drawing of a side view of the object in that article resembles the side view of the Roswell UFOillustrated in Randle and Schmitt (1994).  The UFO was described in this 1972 article as hydroplane-shaped, 18 to 20 feet long, 7 to 8 feet thick and 12 to 14 feet across at the back end. Viewed from the side, such an object could have had an elongate teardrop shape, but seen at different angles from a distance, it would have had different shapes.

June 6, 1969 in the West End of Ottawa, Canada

On June 6, 1969 between 2:00 and 2:45 Z, and most likely at about 2:30 Z (June 5, 22:30), a UFO about 60 m long (Fig. 1) was observed in the west end of Ottawa (Nentwich, 2008). Its surface was not uniformly reflecting light, but was partly covered with a black film.

Nentwich UFO

Figure 1: Side and cross-sectional end views of the Ottawa UFO described in Nentwich (2008).

At about the same time in Ottawa, UFOs appeared over Parliament Hill, after which they travelled to Uplands Airport (Bondarchuk 1979).


July 18, 1969 about 321,861 km into the flight of Apollo 11

Buzz Aldrin wrote that with the help of an on-board telescope, a UFO was seen pacing their spacecraft; the UFO resembled “a series of ellipses, but when you made it real sharp it was sort of L-shaped”

July 20, 1969, in Ottawa, Canada

An employee of the National Research Council, as well as some of her neighbors and a police officer, reported a UFO in Hull (now Gatineau just north of Ottawa) between 11:00 and 1:00 Z. The NRC employee stated that it was “A single object, shaped like a watermelon, glowing brightly with an orange hue”… that “Passed slowly overhead and then travelled at great speed across the Ottawa River to the Parliament Bldgs”, over which it hovered (NRC File N69-128, 1969). This sighting was on the same day as the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Apollo Flights and UFO Sightings

Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA communications systems, quoted in Good (1988, p. 385), stated that “…all Apollo and Gemini flights were followed, both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin….Every time it occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who ordered absolute silence.”  Further evidence supporting this claim includes an analysis of Apollo 16 film by Nakamura (2003, p. 409),who described an enormous domed disc travelling 20 to 40 km/second and wobbling like a leaf falling from a tree.  In addition, indirect evidence presented by Good (2013) suggests that after landing the lunar module on the moon, theApollo 11 astronauts observed large UFOs nearby.  A summary of tentative evidence concerning life on the Moon, including UFO activity there, has been considered by Proud (2013, pp. 279-356), based on many sources in the literature.


UFOs appearing after major rocket launches at or near the launch site or even following the rockets leaves little doubt that such launches stimulate UFO activity.  In some cases, however, UFOs have appeared large distances from the launch sites, as in the Texas UFO sightings after the Sputnik 2 launch.  These cases are less convincing though the appearance of a UFO shortly after a launch when there were only a few objects in orbit is still significant.  The reports ofUFOs in Ottawa after the Apollo 9 and Luna launches, and on the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing, considered together, do not seem entirely coincidental, especially if one includes the Apollo 11 sightings on the way to the Moon.

It may be that UFO reports correlate more strongly with artificial satellites sent by humans beyond near Earth orbits than they do with orbital or suborbital flights.  On the other hand, UFOs were also reported on dates when there were no Apollo flights.  For instance, a UFO on April 22, 1969 about 25 miles east of Ottawa was seen flying along a power line while another was seen on May 11, 1969 on Allumette Island west of Ottawa (Bray, 1979; Rutkowski, 2006).


I thank the staff of the Archives, University of Ottawa for making available the article from Flying Saucer Review Case Histories.  Also, I am grateful to Greg Kennedy for the Luna launch data sources. All newpaper articles were retrieved from:



Blue Book Files (1969). Original sighting reports (68 pages).  Retrieved from:

Bondarchuk, Y. (1979). UFO sightings, landings and abductions: The documented evidence. Methuen: Toronto, Canada.

Bray, A. (1979). The UFO Connection. Jupiter Publishing: Ottawa, Canada.

Cedar Rapids Gazette (June 6, 1969, p. 3). Three persons report seeing UFO at airport. Cedar Rapids Gazette. Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Cedar Rapids Gazette (June 7, 1969, p. 2). Meteor possible answer to C.R. Report of UFO. Cedar Rapids Gazette. Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Clark, P. S. (1977). Launch failures in the Soviet Union’s space probe programme.  Spaceflight, 19 (July-Aug.), 275-278.

Daily Capital News (June 7, 1969, p. 1). St. Louisans see flaming objects. Daily Capital News. Jefferson City, Missouri.

Dolan, R. M. (2000). UFOs and the National Security State: An Unclassified History.  Volume One: 1941-1973. Keyhole Publishing: Rochester, New York.

El Paso Herald-Post (June 6, 1969, p. A4). Cat delays launch of missile. El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso, Texas.

Encyclopedia Astronomica. (1957 Chronology). Retrieved from:

Fairbanks Daily News (June 6, 1969, p. 1). Cosmos returns. Fairbanks Daily News – Miner, v. 47, no. 133. Fairbanks, Alaska.

Flying Saucer Review Case Histories (1971, Oct.). Case 129. Early June 1969. Flying Saucer Review Case Histories, Supplement No. 7, 16. The original source was a June 13, 1969 article in O Dia, a Rio de Janeiro newspaper.

Fox, J., & Coleman, T. (Executive Producers). (2007). Out of the Blue: The Definitive Investigation of the UFO Phenomenon. Special (Updated) 5 Year Anniversary Special. [Documentary Film].  Produced and directed by J. Fox, T. Coleman, & B. Zubov. Part 4 of 9 from:

Good, T. (1988). Above top secret: The worldwide UFO cover-up. MacMillan: Toronto.

Good, T. (2013). Earth: An alien enterprise. Pegasus: New York, NY.

Hynek, J. A. (1972). The UFO experience: A scientific inquiry. Ballantine Books: New York, NY.

Klass, P. J. (1975). UFOs explained. Random House: New York, NY.

Lorenzen, C. E. (1966). Flying saucers: The startling evidence of the invasion from outer space. A Signet book. New American Library: New York, NY.

Muscatine Journal (June 6, 1969, p. 1). UFO sightings. Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Iowa, no. 133.

Nakamura, H. (2003). Video analysis of an anomalous image filmed during Apollo 16. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 17 (3), 409-433.

Nentwich, F. W. (2008). UFO’s on June 5, 1969, in Brazil, Missouri, Iowa and Canada, with personal observations of the Ottawa case. MUFON UFO Journal, 477 (Jan. issue), pp. 9-11, 20.

NICAP 1957 Sighting Wave Chronology (2014). Retrieved from

NORAD Catalog (2012). Retrieved from:

NRC File N69-128. (1969).  In: Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. Planetary Sciences Section. National Research Council of Canada RG 77, Vol. 306, File N69/128, 1 page.  On Microfilm Reel T-1741 at the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Proud, L. (2013).  The secret influence of the moon: Alien origins and occult powers. Destiny Books: Rochester, Vermont.

Randle, K. D., & Schmitt, D. R. (1994).  The truth about the UFO crash at Roswell. Avon Books: New York.

Rutkowski, C. (2006).  The Landing on Allumette Island.  In C. Rutkowski and G. Dittman: The Canadian UFO Report: The Best Cases Revealed (pp. 103-104). Dundurn Press: Toronto, Canada.

Sokolov, O. A. (2001). The Race to the Moon: A look back from Baikonour. In D. C. Elder & C. Rothmund (Eds.), History of Rocketry and Astronautics (pp. 459-466). San Diego, California: Published for the American Astronautical Society by Univelt, Inc. Retrieved from:

Southern Illinoisan (June 6, 1969, p. 14). Illinois UFO’s ‘probably meteors’. Southern Illinoisan. Carbondale-Herrin-Murphysboro, Illinois.

UFOCAT (2005). – On This Day – June 5. Retrieved from:

UFO Investigator (Feb. 1972). FAA Controller recounts ’69 sighting, p. 2. Retrieved from: 


 Franz W. Nentwich


January 25th, 2016

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