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By Harry L. Helms, Jr.
UFO Report December 1976

It is not easy to pry any information regarding UFOs out of official U.S. government sources. But any difficulties encountered when dealing with our government pale in comparison with trying to extract information from the government of the Soviet Union. Most Russian agencies simply do not respond at all to queries from Westerners.

One source that will answer letters, regardless of the subject, is the English language section of Radio Moscow, which nightly beams English language broadcasts on shortwave radio to the U.S. The author wrote Radio Moscow, explaining the conclusions reached by the U.S. Air Force regarding UFOs, and asked if the Soviet government had reached any official conclusions on UFOs. On June 6, 1976, Radio Moscow answered the author’s letter: “This is one area in which the Soviet government is in complete agreement with ours. No evidence has been found that the so-called ‘unidentified flying objects’ represent anything other than misinterpretations of ordinary phenomena, such as aircraft or astronomical objects.” The Radio Moscow announcer continued,”many reports have been found to be the product of hoaxers, alcoholics, or persons with a mental deficiency.”

When the subject of the-Soviet space program comes up, however, even Radio Moscow refuses to offer any more Information than is commonly available in the American press. In fact, they usually give a great deal less.

From the very start, secrecy has been the watchword of the Soviet space program. Not until the 1975 joint Apollo-Soyuz mission did the world have any hint as to what the Soviets planned to do on a space flight prior to the event Back in 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first man into space, his history-making flight was not even announced by the Soviets until just prior to the completion of his mission.

No Westerners were allowed to take a peek at Soviet space facilities until 1975 when U.S. scientists and astronauts insisted on a firsthand inspection before undertaking their Joint mission.


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It is hardly surprising, therefore, that attempts to get information on UFO incidents that occurred during Soviet space missions are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Most information comes from Western sources, such as intelligence and military organizations, and from Western newsmen stationed in the Soviet Union. Other sources have been observatories and tracking stations located in the West, and radio monitoring stations around the world that have intercepted Soviet space transmissions (most of which take place on frequencies centered around 20 MHz). From these sources, we now know:

• Soviet spacecraft have suffered the same baffling failures in space that were detailed in The Great Galactic Ghoul (see July 1976 issue of SAGA);

• Unidentified objects have been tracked in space following Soviet satellites;

• Soviet cosmonauts have sighted UFOs while in outer space; and

• Many reports have appeared in the Western press over the years claiming that the Soviets have had space failures, kept secret from the world, in which cosmonauts have died. There is strong and compelling evidence, including conversations from an orbiting Soviet spacecraft that were received and taped at Western receiving stations, that one Soviet space crew died in an incident involving a mysterious object orbiting with the spacecraft!

• The Soviet Union has the same problem with UFOs that the U.S. has, but, officially, UFOs do not exist Unfortunately, those damn UFOs haven’t been told.

The Soviets beat the Americans into space, orbiting Sputnik I in October 1957. The propaganda victory was reinforced less than a month later when Sputnik II was launched in November 1957. Sputnik II was a huge satellite, weighing more than 1,000 pounds. It also carried a small female dog, the first living creature ever put in orbit. For several weeks, scientific instruments monitored the dog’s physical state and sent the data back via radio. As the oxygen and food supplies dwindled, the dog was painlessly put to death. Perhaps no other living creature had been so totally alone as the passenger of Sputnik II. But on December 18, 1957, Sputnik 11 did get some company-most unexpected company!

Sputnik II could be seen from the ground with the naked eye, being visible as a speck of light much like a faint star. Dr. Luis Corrales, an official of the Communications Ministry in Caracas, Venezuela, set up his camera to take a time exposure of the satellite’s passage around six p.m. on December 18, 1957.

As he expected, the satellite left a thin streak on his negative tracing its path through the sky. But there was another streak, parallel to that of Sputnik! The mystery deepened because the unknown object had left its original path and then returned to the parallel path it had been following-much like a squiggle in the middle of an otherwise straight line!

Scientific examination of the photograph ruled out aircraft, a meteor or a star. The most puzzling aspect of the case was that the object had been traveling in a precise parallel course to Sputnik II, had deviated, and then returned-characteristics of an intelligently controlled object! The only thing certain was that some unknown object had followed Sputnik II that night over the skies of South America.

The Soviet Union has a number of space firsts to its credit, including the first satellite in orbit, and the first man into space. They also have another first to their credit, albeit it was not a record they sought; they were the first nation to have a space probe fall victim to the “Great Galactic Ghoul.”

“The Great Galactic Ghoul” is an area between Earth and Mars where several space probes have encountered baffling difficulties, particularly the American space probe Mariner 7. The history of anomalies encountered in the “Ghoul” is well-documented. But when the Soviet Union launched their Mars 1 probe on November 1, 1962, they had no inkling of what waited for them in the “Ghoul,” for the simple reason that no other spacecraft had ever attempted a flight to Mars before. Everything proceeded normally until mid-March 1963 when the Soviet news agency Tass abruptly stopped issuing reports on the probe’s progress. Rumors began to filter out through Western intelligence sources that something had gone wrong with the Mars 1 mission.

Tass finally broke its silence on May 16, 1963 with an announcement that Mars 1 had failed. Radio communications had been lost abruptly and without explanation, and the rocket engines aboard had failed to make a necessary mid-course correction. This caused Mars 1 to miss its target entirely. Tass listed several possible explanations for the failure, such as meteor swarms and cosmic radiation. Scientists who have investigated subsequent events in the “Ghoul” have rejected all conceivable explanations for what transpires in that patch of space. But even if the Soviets did not solve the mystery of the Ghoul,” at least they can be given credit for discovering it.

American astronauts have, on several occasions, bumped into ‘unidentified objects while in space. Prominent among these incidents are the observations made on the Mercury-Faith 7, Gemini 4, Gemini 7, and Gemini 10 flights. Particularly spectacular were the incidents involving UFOs and the Gemini 11 and Apollo 12 flights. With so many cases involving American astronauts, one would suspect that Soviet cosmonauts have also encountered some UFOs while in orbit. The Soviet government says no, but the evidence says yes!

On October 21, 1964, a press conference was held at the Grand Hall of Moscow University shortly after the successful completion of the Voskhod I manned spaceflight. This flight was another Soviet record, being the first flight to carry more than one passenger. Voskhod l’s three-man crew conducted a one day flight which tested a new generation of Soviet spacecraft. During the press conference, a Western journalist asked the flight’s commander about encounters with unidentified objects while in orbit. The reaction from the crew was immediate and swift they promptly walked out and the press conf~rence, which had been terse and evasive even by Sov1iet standards, was immediately terminated. ‘

This bizarre behavior became a bit clearer when the December 1967 issue of the European UFO magazine Olympus reported that Voskhod I had encountered strange cylindrical objects while in orbit. Nor was the next Voskhod flight any different with respect to UFOs. Voskhod II was launched on March 18, 1965, and is famous chiefly because of Alexei Leonov’s dramatic walk in space, the first ever attempted.

But co-pilot Pavel Belyayev had an experience perhaps as exciting as Leonov’s when he sighted several cylindrical objects similar to those spotted during the Voskhod I flight. Although information is somewhat sketchy, apparently Leonov did not see the objects.

Voskhod II had more than its share of unusual vents. The spacecraft was scheduled to land after 15 orbits of the Earth, approximately one day after launch. But the spacecraft’s onboard navigational system malfunctioned. It then made an unscheduled 16th orbit and was b~ought back to Earth under the manual control of the cosmonauts. It landed several hundred miles off target in the Ural Mountains, requiring several hours of frantic searching before it was found. Nor did the mysteries of Voskhod II end with the landing.

Films of Leonov’s walk in space were proven not to be genμine color films but instead black and white films that had been colored blue. Further controversy erupted when close examination of several frames showed what appeared to be air bubbles, leading to suspicion that the Soviets had faked the walk in space by filming the event in a tank of water. The Soviets naturally had no comment on this charge and made no mention whatsoever of the malfunction of the onboard navigational equipment in the press conferences which followed the Voskhod II flight. And if the Soviets do have an idea as to what the cosmonauts of Voskhod I and II actually saw, they’re not telling.

Rumors have long circulated in the West that the Soviet Union has had several cosmonauts killed in connection with space missions. The only deaths which the Soviets have admitted have occurred during landing after the Soviets had announced the flights to the world and no possibility existed of covering up the deaths. But there is substantial evidence that many more cosmonauts have died than the Soviets own up to. A frequent source of these reports has been American intelligence agencies, that have leaked the information to publicly embarrass the Soviets.

Another source has been a network of young amateur radio operators (commonly called “hams”) who have formed the “Zeus Group.” And from the Zeus Group has come the most stunning and frightening UFO incident in connection with the Soviet manned space program.

The Zeus Group was formed by two brothers, Achille and Gian Battista Judica-Cordiglia. They lived at San Maurizia, Canavese, a small village 12 miles from Turin, Italy. As young men, they were interested in scientific and intellectual pursuits and later followed scientific careers, Achille in medicine, and Gian in engineering. When both were teenagers they became interested in ham radio, and soon had their licenses and were talking to new friends all over the world by shortwave. The brothers showed great ingenuity in equipping ‘their station, buying surplus U.S. military and electronic gear for five cents a pound and converting it to their use.

When the first man-made satellites were put into orbit during the late 1950s, Achille and Gian found a new challenge for their skills. They listened in on the satellite transmissions from both American and Soviet probes. They refined their equipment to keep track of the satellites in space. One piece of new equipment they needed was a movable “dish” type antenna. Britain had spent $4,500,000 on the movable dish antenna at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

The U.S. Air Force Built one at Tyngboro, Mass., for a cool $15,000,000. Achille and Gian scrounged through junkyards for pipes and wire, bought more military surplus, and even used an old auto-steering system to turn the antenna. The total cost for their system was only $30. When man began to travel into space, a new ‘set of problems were encountered.

Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union kept the radio frequencies used by their manned spacecraft secret.

Achille and Gian managed to figure out the frequencies used by the U.S. by examining a photo of the Mercury capsule and noticing the dimensions of the spacecraft’s radio antenna. From the size of the antenna, the brothers were able to mathematically compute the proper radio frequencies. No such photos were available of Soviet spacecraft, so Achille and Gian were forced to listen .. . and listen . . . and listen some more. It was a tedious and time-consuming process, but eventually, a list of active Soviet frequencies was compiled.

Tape recorders were set up to record all monitored conversations and their sister, Maria Theresa, learned Russian and served as translator. But the brothers could not by themselves keep track of all Soviet space conversations from the orbiting spacecraft was on the other side of the Earth, radio reception would be impossible. A network of tracking stations around the world was the answer. The proposal was raised with other ham radio operators they contacted all over the world. Fellow hams in Sweden, Angola, Argentina, and Tahiti, to name a few countries, were signed up and equipped their ham stations to receive and record transmissions from Soviet and U.S. spacecraft. Gian’s, fiancee, Laura Furbatto, presided over and directed the operations of the network now termed the Zeus Group. Achille and Gian moved their headquarters to an expanded and more sophisticated ham station and named the monitoring post Torre Bert, after the building in which it was located.

November 28, 1960, brought the first series of mysterious signals from outer space. A man’s voice, speaking in Russian, was heard crying, “SOS to the entire world!” This terse message was heard three times at Zeus Group member stations in Texas and West Germany. On December 1, 1960, the Soviet Union did an unusual thing and publicly admitted that a recent space mission had failed- but made no mention of any cosmonaut being aboard. However, that terrified Russian voice, recorded on tape, offered dramatic evidence that indeed a man had been in the capsule.

Activity increased during the first week of February 1961. Several Soviet rockets were launched during this period without any public announcement by the Soviets. Usually, this means that the launch was a military project of some sort. However, members of the Zeus Group intercepted a stunning transmission on one of the Soviet space channels. No voices were heard-only the sound of labored breathing and a heartbeat that was clearly over-exerted and strained. A tape of the heartbeat was played for Dr. A. M. Doyliotti, a leading Italian heart surgeon. His conclusion was grim: “This is the heart of a dying man.”

All told, members of the Zeus Group have compiled evidence that as many as 10 Soviet cosmonauts have died in space and their deaths have been kept a secret from the world. But perhaps even the Soviets themselves know what happened to one crew, for apparently, this team died during an encounter with a UFO!

On February 17, 1961, a giant rocket lifted off from the Soviet launching site at Baikonour. The launch was quickly detected and tracked by American intelligence agencies, as any Soviet missile could easily be carrying a nuclear warhead. But the rocket went into orbit around the Earth, an_d quickly became an object of widespread attention. It was a large, much larger than the usual, unmanned Soviet satellite-and it appeared that the spacecraft had attempted to escape the Earth’s gravity, possibly on an attempt to go to the moon. But what electrified the members of the Zeus Group was that voices were coming from the mystery spacecraft. The voices were those of a man and a woman!

For one week after the launch, the man and woman could be heard reporting to Soviet ground stations. The messages were short and seemingly routine, such as “Everything satisfactory. We are maintaining the prescribed altitude.” But something was obviously wrong. Despite the incredible historic implications of the mission – it would have been the first manned flight into space – the Soviets kept quiet about the flight. The only possible conclusion was an extremely gruesome one, namely that some malfunction had occurred and the Soviets were unable to bring the satellite back to Earth! The space capsule that was to bring fame and glory to its two occupants would instead be their coffin.

But a climax came to the flight on February 24, 1961, as evening settled across the Soviet Union and Europe.

Four members of the Zeus Group, including Achille and Gian at their Torre Bert headquarters, recorded the final broadcast. As usual, the transmission opened with the usual statement that conditions and altitude were normal. But suddenly there was panic in the capsule!

“We can read the dials,” reported the male cosmonaut. “The signals are not clear, however. We see nothing.” Five seconds of silence, and then came the woman’s voice, · speaking rapidly with excitement: “I’ll make it and hold tight with my right hand. Only in this way can we maintain equilibrium. Look out the peephole! Look out the peephole! I have it…”

“Here! Here there is something!” The man’s voice rapidly rose with a mixture of excitement and fear. “There is something! It’s difficult… ” Several seconds of silence followed. ” If we do not get out, the world will never hear about it. It is difficult…”

Before the male cosmonaut could complete his sentences a Soviet ground communications station broke in and gave an automated time signal for eight p.m. Moscow time. When the automated time signal ended a few seconds later, only silence could be heard from the capsule. The Soviet spacecraft continued to orbit, but no more communications were to come from it.

It is obvious from the recorded conversations that the two ill-fated cosmonauts did indeed see something most unusual while in Earth orbit. The Soviets may know the reason why the spacecraft was unable to return to Earth, but it’s unlikely that they know what their two cosmonauts saw or the reason for their subsequent silence.

Neither do we. The only two who did know apparently died finding out.

The Soviet Union had changed its public stance on UFOs several times in the past. In 1976 Radio Moscow makes short shrift of UFOs, yet in 1957 they ran reports of UFO sightings within the Soviet Union on Radio Moscow’s English language shortwave broadcasts to North America. Why the changes in official attitude? Just how much do the Russians know about UFOs?

It has been pointed out that if the Russians have any really hard information about UFOs, they would undoubtedly keep it a secret. The Russians do share a great deal of scientific information with the rest. of the world, but any data that might have military or scientific usefulness is kept under wraps. And if they were really on to something concrete in the UFO- problem, they might well deliberately try to ‘confuse the issue. Of course, when one considers the motives for any Soviet policy one must strongly consider the possibility that the swings in position are due simply too bureaucratic confusion: But one can’t help but feel that the Russians know a great deal more about UFOs than they are admitting. After all, we know about the fate of Mars 1 in the “Ghoul” … and the strange objects that followed the Voskhod spacecraft and we have heard the terrified voices of two Soviet cosmonauts as they observed something mysterious outside their doomed capsule. We can safely guess that there is quite a bit more that is unknown to us in the West.

The Soviet Union, it seems, has the same trouble with UFOs that they have with so many other aspects of their society. Despite their best efforts to suppress the facts, the truth has a habit of emerging in the end. And the truth of the matter is that the Soviets, like the Americans, are running into UFOs everywhere they turn…

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