by Brent Swancer December 13, 2017 (mysteriousuniverse.org)
• In April 1982, the Soviets launched its Salyut 7 space station as a test program for modular design space stations and a precursor to the Mir space station. The Salyut 7 stayed in orbit for 8 years and 10 months.
• In June 1984, on its 155th day in orbit, the three crew members of the Salyut 7 suddenly reported a bright orange light around the space station. When they looked out of the porthole they saw seven enormous, winged humanoid angelic figures about 90 feet tall with calm, smiling faces hovering beside the space station. The crew said that they did not feel alarm but wonderment, and a feeling of calm and peace exuding from these beings. The beings stayed with the space station for about 10 minutes before fading away. Afterward, the three cosmonauts discussed it, determined that they had all seen the same thing but agreed that it must have been a trick of the mind.
• On day 167 of the mission, three more cosmonauts joined the space station. Not long after, the space station was again bathed in this orange light. This time all six of the crew looked out of the portholes to see several of the massive angelic beings with smiling faces floating just outside of their station.
• The crew were instructed to never to discuss what they had seen and the Soviet government covered it all up. Intensive physical and psychological tests showed that the crew were of perfectly sound body and mind. Still, they all gave the exact same description of winged, angelic entities with smiling faces.
• An interesting note, the first human to go into space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, had his own encounter twenty years earlier in April of 1961. At two points during his spaceflight aboard the Vostok-1, Gagarin inexplicably went silent. He couldn’t recall what had happened. During hypnotic regression, Gagarin claimed that he could remember seeing an enormous figure floating in space in front of him, and that he had heard a voice in his head saying, “Do not worry, everything will be fine. You’ll come back to Earth,” before the apparition vanished into thin air right before his eyes.
Space is often touted as the last frontier, the final wilderness that we have yet to tame or understand, and in many ways this is very true. We have only within the last century really begun to comprehend some of its secrets to any appreciable degree, and there are certainly wonders beyond our imagination for us yet to behold. Yet some mysteries that have been encountered out there in the cold dark of space go well beyond conventional understanding, to propel out into the world of the paranormal and the universe of the truly bizarre. Certainly ranking among these mysteries is a curious close encounter between some of the first people in space and, well, something else.
In April of 1982, the Soviet Union launched its ambitious Salyut 7 space station as part of the Soviet Salyut Programme, which started in 1971 and had the aim of eventually sending up a total of four crewed scientific research space stations and two crewed military reconnaissance space stations. The last to be launched in the program and a precursor to the Mir space station, the Salyut 7 was the 10th space station ever put into orbit by mankind, and was designed to serve as a sort of test of a new system of modular space stations, which entailed the ability to attach new modules to expand the station or adapt it to whatever functions were required, as well as an outpost for various off-planet experiments. The Salyut 7 would end up staying in orbit for a total of 8 years and 10 months, which up until that time was the longest such a station had ever remained in continuous orbit. It is also known for a very bizarre series of bizarre, unexplained events witnessed by the crew.
In July of 1984, the Salyut 7 was on the 155th day of its mission and things were going in a routine fashion until there was a sudden transmission from cosmonauts Commander Oleg Atkov, Vladmir Solovyov, and Leonid Kizim in which they claimed that the space station had suddenly been surrounded by an oppressive, blinding orange light. The crew of three aboard the Salyut 7 all then allegedly looked out of the portals to try and see what was causing this inexplicable brilliant glow. At this point they would witness probably the last thing they had expected to see out there.
There hovering in space in front of the space station were what the crew would describe as seven enormous winged humanoid beings estimated as being around 90 feet in height and with calm, smiling faces, and it was from these bizarre entities that the ethereal light was apparently emanating. They were also claimed to exude a feeling of calm and peacefulness, and oddly the cosmonauts felt no fear during the encounter, merely wonderment. According to the witnesses, the colossal apparitions, which they described as “angels,” matched the speed of the space station, remaining in the same position for around 10 minutes before fading away. Baffled by what they had all just seen, the three cosmonauts had a heated discussion on what the beings were and what rational explanation could account for it, but they could come up with nothing. In the end, although they had all seen exactly the same thing, they chalked it up to the stresses and rigors of being in space for so long, resigning themselves to the explanation that their minds had simply been playing tricks on them.
They may have gone on forever convinced that this was some sort of mass hallucination and a bout of temporary insanity, but it would not be their last encounter with these otherworldly beings. On Day 167 of the mission, the Salyut gained an additional three cosmonauts in the form of Svetlana Savitskaya, Igor Volk and Vladimir Dzhanibekov. Not long after these new crew members boarded, the station was once again bathed in that potent, bedazzling light, and this time all six of the crew looked out of the portholes to see several of the massive angelic beings swimming through the blackness of space outside, again with their benevolent smiling faces. Considering that this time they had again all seen the same thing, it appeared that there was perhaps something more going on beyond simple hallucinations.
When the Salyut mission was concluded and the cosmonauts returned to Earth, their strange experiences were allegedly covered up and swept under the carpet by the Soviet government, and the witnesses told in no uncertain terms that they were never to discuss what they had seen up there. Interestingly, intensive rounds of physical and psychological tests performed on the space station crew supposedly showed nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever. They were perfectly sound of body and mind.
Considering the thick secrecy surrounding the odd events, the story did not really get any wider coverage until after the Cold War, but when it did get out it immediately ignited a firestorm of debate and speculation as to what the cosmonauts had really seen. The most rational and scientific answer is that these cosmonauts experienced what they had suspected in the beginning, which is some sort of mass hallucination or madness brought on by the demanding stresses, fatigue, and the harsh conditions of space. After all, no one had ever really spent this much time continuously in space before, and so it should be only natural that they should have such visions.
Indeed, such surreal visual phenomena have been reported by other astronauts and cosmonauts who have been in space for long periods of time, and even earthbound pilots on long, demanding flights. The problem with this explanation is that six seasoned, experienced cosmonauts all saw the same thing at the same time, and all of them were given clean bills of mental and physical health afterward, making it seem rather unlikely that this could all be in their heads. It also seems rather implausible that a group of six highly trained, well-respected cosmonauts would get together and make up such a story as a hoax.
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