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Harry Reid just confirmed in a new documentary that aliens are totally out there, man. The former Senate majority leader doesn’t hold back in director James Fox’s new film The Phenomenon, accusing the U.S. government of hiding its UFO research from the public. “Most of it hasn’t seen the light of day,” Reid said. “Why the federal government all these years has covered up… I think it’s very bad for our country.”

It’s not surprising that the government would keep highly sensitive information a secret. As Luis Elizondo, the director of government programs with To The Stars Academy (and a…

Luis Elizondo helped release Navy videos of unidentified aerial phenomena. Last month, the Pentagon confirmed they were real.

Photo illustration. Sources: To the Stars Academy, U.S. Department of Defense

If we find out one day that aliens really do exist, there’s a good chance we’ll have Luis Elizondo to thank. Elizondo works as the director of government programs with To The Stars Academy (TTSA), an aerospace and science company founded in 2017 by a physicist for the Department of Defense, a former CIA operations officer, and Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge.

TTSA specializes in research around unidentified aerial phenomena — military-speak for any unexplained presence in the atmosphere. Before joining TTSA, Elizondo headed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program at the Pentagon, an initiative secured and promoted in 2009 by…

Hint: Think less ‘Star Wars,’ and more, well, the usual war stuff

Photo illustration; Source: U.S. Air Force

Unless you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far away, you’ve probably heard of the newest branch of the U.S. military: the Space Force. President Trump created the new branch of the Air Force last year, declaring, “American superiority in space is absolutely vital and we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough.”

The Space Force will be the smallest branch of the U.S. military — the Marine Corps is still more than 10 times its projected size — and will draw its personnel from current Air Force staff. The new branch will also absorb many of the Air Force’s…

Great Escape

Why the space age depends on mining

Illustration: Jason Raish

There are untold riches’ worth of valuable metals in space. Consider the near-Earth asteroid 1986 DA, discovered 32 years ago. Radar observations indicated that this rock, two kilometers wide, contained 10 trillion kilograms of iron, 1 trillion kilograms of nickel, 100 million kilograms of platinum, and 10 million kilograms of gold. It should be no surprise that people are trying to figure out how to tap into space resources.

It might be more surprising that, for the most part, they plan to leave all that metal alone, at least for the time being. What they seek first is something we…

Reasonable Doubt

How the media keeps extraterrestrial infatuation top of mind

Illustration: Darren Oorloff

Near the end of 2018, a startling claim made international headlines: “Pilots report seeing ‘very fast’ UFO above Ireland,” CNN reported. “If it wasn’t aliens, what was it?” The Washington Post asked.

News of the unidentified flying object flew across the globe like a meteor, which is what the mysterious entity most likely was, according to aviation and astronomy experts. As is often the case, that tidbit was buried at the bottom of most news stories.

UFO sightings are reported to local authorities or volunteer UFO groups with varying degrees of fanfare. A recent visit to the Mutual UFO Network…

Illustration: Seth Thompson

How a freelance writer sowed doubts about the Apollo mission — now 50 years old — laying the groundwork for 9/11 truthers, birtherism, Pizzagate, and QAnon

In December 1969, NASA’s public affairs chief, Julian Scheer, made a presentation to a group of aviation experts gathered in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Speaking six months after an estimated 650 million people watched a televised feed of the first Apollo moon landing, Scheer showed a series of films depicting cavorting astronauts and scientific equipment on what appeared to be a lunar landscape. The footage, Scheer revealed, was entirely terrestrial, shot during simulation exercises at NASA’s space-training facilities, including a rock quarry in Michigan. …

That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s life — but it’s an exciting sign that it’s possible

A self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

For over a century, science fiction authors have imagined that humanities’ first contact with extraterrestrial life would come via intelligent humanoid aliens arriving on Earth in technologically advanced spaceships, likely in pursuit of interstellar conquest. If the latest Red Planet news from NASA turns out to be that first contact, the reality is far more mundane than the fiction. There may be Martians, but if so, we’ve only seen their gas, not their ships. Even calling it “their” gas may be getting ahead of ourselves.

Over the weekend, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate announced that the Mars Curiosity Rover has detected…

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