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From a smattering of stars to a breathtaking view of Earth, astronauts see so many awe-inspiring things in space. But sometimes what they see is not only unbelievable but unexplainable – there are some truly creepy things astronauts have seen in space. Astronauts have reported seeing weird lights, extraterrestrials, and UFOs. It kind of makes you wonder if they really saw these things or if being in outer space was just messing with their minds.

These weird astronaut stories prove space is definitely not for the faint of heart. Some weird things astronauts have seen really make you wonder if alien conspiracy theorists might be right. Maybe the government does know about the existence of extraterrestrials and is covering it up. This list of weird things astronauts see in space will make you question what you believe.


Maj. Gordon Cooper Watched A Green Orb Approach Him Out Of The Darkness
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

During Maj. Gordon Cooper’s solo journey around Earth, he encountered more than just some space junk. Nearing the end of his 22-orbit trip around the planet, he suddenly noticed a green, glowing object approaching the Mercury capsule he was flying in. In fact, the rapid approach of the object was even picked up by the closest tracking station in Muchea, Australia.

Cooper even went on to describe the incident to the United Nations:

I believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets… Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs… I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe.

Neil Armstrong May Have Seen A UFO Parking Lot
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Neil Armstrong, besides strolling around the moon and saying some famous words, may have seen some gigantic UFOs in space. According to a source no less dubious than Aliens and Man: A Synopsis of Facts and Beliefs, Armstrong is rumored to have sent a secret message to NASA during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong allegedly said: “These babies were huge, sir! Enormous! Oh, God! You wouldn’t believe it! … I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out here … lined up on the far side of the crater’s edge! … They’re on the moon watching us!”

It’s one of many, many such tales associated with the first lunar landing. Armstrong was notoriously tight-lipped about his experiences in space and never commented on this rumor, likely because there simply wasn’t much factual basis for the claims that he ever saw or said any such things.

Yang Liwei Heard A Mysterious Knock Outside His Ship
Photo: Dyor/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

In 2003, Yang Liwei became the first astronaut sent into space by the Chinese space program. He’s said he heard “someone knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer” on his maiden flight. He looked outside of the ship’s porthole but was unable to find the source of the knocking. Considering space is a vacuum, it was even weirder that he heard a sound from outside the ship.

Liwei is not alone in this discovery, either; other Chinese astronauts heard the sound on missions in 2005 and 2008.

Vladimir Kovalyonok May Have Watched A UFO Explode
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Kovalyonok was part of a crew manning Salyut VI space station in 1981. “When I was working at the Salyut orbital station, I saw something strange in a porthole one day. The object was the size of a finger. I was surprised to see it was an orbiting object,” said Kovalyonok.

He added:

It was hard to determine the size and the speed of an object in space. That is why I can not say exactly, which size it actually was. [My partner Viktor] Savinykh prepared to take a picture of it, but the UFO suddenly exploded. Only clouds of smoke were left. The object split into two interconnected pieces. It was reminiscent of a dumbbell. I reported about it to the Mission Control immediately.

Kovalyonok is one of the few astronauts to see something inexplicable in space and talk openly about it afterward.

Story Musgrave Caught A Glimpse Of A Space Eel
Video: YouTube

NASA astronaut Story Musgrave claims to have seen eel-like tubes swim through space. In an interview, he explains that he saw this creature on two separate occasions. While some immediately dismiss this as space junk – possibly some type of hose that detached from a spaceship – Musgrave is adamant that the white eel had its own propulsion technique.

Musa Manarov Shot Footage Of An Alleged UFO
Video: YouTube

During a Mir (a Russian space station) mission in 1991, cosmonaut Musa Manarov was watching a visiting space capsule dock nearby. He was filming its approach when he saw an object that looked like it was coming off the spacecraft. But Manarov knew that there was simply nothing that could come loose at that point, and as he continued to watch the object, it floated downward and away from the capsule.

Manarov still can’t explain what he saw up there, but he knows for sure that it was not space junk, as some people have claimed.

Leroy Chiao Saw Some Creepy Lights Zoom Past Him
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Leroy Chiao commanded the International Space Station in 2005. While on a spacewalk, Chiao saw white lights aligned in an upside-down check formation whiz right past him. Some people have posited that a string of fishing boats along the South American coast could explain what he saw, but Chiao was 230 miles above Earth when this happened. Those would have to be some seriously strong boat spotlights to be seen from all the way up there.

Chiao told HuffPost, “I’m skeptical of claims that we’ve been visited by aliens from another planet or other dimension, but I don’t rule it out 100 percent.”

Astronauts Saw Fire Burn Without A Flame
Photo: Thomas Quine/flickr/CC BY 2.0

From 2009 to 2012, astronauts lit things on fire in space. Not because they were all pyromaniacs, but because they wanted to know how fire behaved in the cosmos. They discovered that fire burns at a lower temperature and with less oxygen and can also burn without a flame in microgravity.

Forman Williams, the project leader on the experiments, told “Thus far, the most surprising thing we’ve observed is continued apparent burning of heptane droplets after flame extinction under certain conditions. Currently, this is entirely unexplained.”

A Conspiracy Theorist Thinks Alan Bean Saw Glass Domes On The Moon
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Richard C. Hoagland, a proponent of alternate space theories, believed Alan Bean saw glass domes from a long-extinct alien civilization on the moon. In an interview, Bean described space as looking like “black, patent-leather shoes” from the surface of the moon. Hoagland maintained: “Space should be velvet-black. It should be inky-black. It should be infinity, unending, deep, endless black. It shouldn’t be shiny.”

The only explanation for Bean’s description, Hoagland concluded, was that he was seeing space through the reflection of a glass dome.

Multiple Astronauts Saw Dazzling Light Shows
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

During the Apollo 11 mission, astronauts reported seeing “light flashes” in their eyes. The crews of Apollo 12 and Apollo 13 were warned about this and reported that they also saw strange bursts of light, even when their eyes were closed. Experiments were conducted on the next four Apollo missions to try and figure out what was causing these weird visions.

NASA determined that the astronauts were seeing cosmic rays. We don’t see cosmic rays here on Earth because they are absorbed by our atmosphere, but without that barrier in space, astronauts were seeing something no one had ever seen before.

James McDivitt Saw Something He Couldn’t Explain
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

While on the Gemini 4 mission in 1965, astronaut James McDivitt thought he saw a UFO. In an interview with NASA, McDivitt explained:

I looked outside, just glanced up, and there was something out there. It had a geometrical shape similar to a beer can or a pop can, and with a little thing like maybe like a pencil or something sticking out of it. That relative size, dimensionally. It was all white.

The press got a hold of the story and ran with it, claiming McDivitt had seen a UFO. It wasn’t until years later, after reviewing a photograph he had never seen before, that McDivitt realized what it was: a reflection of some bolts in the window glass.

He said:

I went back and then I saw what the thing was. And really what it was, was a reflection of the bolts in the windows. The windows were made up of about three or four or five panes of glass, so that if one got broken we still had some pressure integrity. And these little things, when the Sun shined on them right, they’d multiply the images off the different panes. And I’m quite sure that that’s what this thing was.

Or maybe that’s just what NASA told him to say.

Christopher Cassidy Saw An Unidentified Flying Object
Photo: NASA via Youtube/Public Domain

In 2013, while astronaut Christopher Cassidy was aboard the International Space Station, he saw a mysterious object floating by his window. Cassidy contacted Mission Control to report the sighting.

NASA identified it as an antenna cover from Russia’s Zvezda service module, but conspiracy theorists remain convinced that the object was something extraterrestrial.

John Glenn Saw Small Glowing Dots That Looked Like Fireflies
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

John Glenn, who flew on the Friendship 7 spacecraft in February 1962, suddenly noticed something strange outside his window while in orbit. He immediately reported to NASA that he was watching what looked like a group of little glowing fireflies dancing outside his window. However, it would take a perplexed Glenn and worried NASA nearly a year to figure out what these little fireflies really were.

At first, NASA was concerned that perhaps these glowing dots were flecks of metal coming off a malfunctioning piece of equipment. However, they later realized during another flight that these specks were actually frozen droplets of condensation that were shifting and cracking as the spaceship traveled.

Samantha Cristoforetti Saw The ISS Glow Orange
Video: YouTube

In 2014, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was on her way to the International Space Station for the first time when she saw the normally gray ISS was bathed orange light. It was the sun reflecting off the solar panels and onto the space station, something only a handful of astronauts had ever seen. Cristoforetti was taken aback by the beauty of what she was seeing. In a blog post, she wrote, “The enormous solar panels were inundated with a blaze of orange light, vivid, warm, almost alien.”

Conspiracy theorists hooked onto the words “almost alien.” They began speculating that the solar panel reflection was a cover story and she had, in fact, seen a UFO. You can see the ISS change colors at around 11:34 in the video above.

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