|An illustration of an Apollo spacecraft separating from its Saturn V upper stage, with several panels flying away. One such panel may have been the source of a flashing light noted by the Apollo 11 crew.|
Orbital manoeuvres in the dark: Apollo 11’s UFO
By Dwayne A. Day
As Apollo 11 headed to the Moon, the astronauts looked out their window and noticed something—an object, flashing with some kind of regularity.
According to Jay Barbree in his new book Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight, after they returned to Earth, there was some tension about this subject while the astronauts were in their quarantine module aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (see “Review: Neil Armstong: A Life of Flight”, The Space Review, July 7, 2014). Barbree quoted Armstrong (pg. 300): “From the beginning I felt there was an explanation,” he told me. “We were looking back at lights that steadily flashed—natural lights or human made it seemed to me, and we just didn’t have the facts. I thought we had an obligation not to start some Hollywood frenzy about us being watched and followed by aliens.”
In several different forums Buzz Aldrin has consistently stated that he was pretty sure that the flashing that he saw was part of the Saturn V that had launched them to the Moon:
On Apollo 11 in route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world—it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft. So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And I feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels. Which one? I don’t know. So technically, the definition could be “unidentified.” . . .