Space pioneer Leroy Gordon Cooper, who died in 2004, believed in the existence of aliens who had been traveling from other habitable places to Earth. Not only he believed in extraterrestrials but also claimed that he personally encountered UFOs and other inexplicable phenomena while flying in a fighter jet in Germany in the early 1950s.
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Cooper was one of the seven astronauts of Project Mercury, the first human space program to get a man on the Moon before the Soviet Union. He traveled to space as part of the manned mission Mercury-Atlas 9, which took place in 1963. Then, in 1956, he set a new space endurance record by traveling 3.3 million miles aboard Gemini 5 to prove that astronauts could survive in space on a journey to Moon and back to Earth.
He left NASA in 1970 and spent the rest of his life studying unidentified flying objects. Cooper believed in the UFOs even before he got into the space programs. After his encounter with UFOs in Germany, he became a staunch supporter of the hypotheses of the existence of civilization outside Earth.
Cooper said in an interview that he saw a UFO the first time in his life in the early 1950s, when he was posted at Landstuhl Air Base, West Germany. He said that during that time, Russian MiG-15s often flew over to his base. So, once he was flying at 15,000 meters and saw strange vehicles that flew in formation much higher and faster than their aircraft. He claimed that they were discs shaped with metallic casing.
Then in 1957, when Cooper served as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California, he saw a flying saucer with a diameter of about 10 meters that hovered nearby and landed on the dried lake.
He said: “I had a camera crew filming the installation when they spotted a saucer. They filmed it as it flew overhead, then hovered, extended three legs as landing gear, and slowly came down to land on a dry lake bed.”
After that, Cooper sent the recordings to Washington and filed a report of the UFO encounter.
“After a while, a high-ranking officer said when the film was developed I was to put it in a pouch and send it to Washington.
He didn’t say anything about me not looking at the film. That’s what I did when it came back from the lab and it was all there just like the camera crew reported.”
The saucer was similar to the one he encountered in 1951.
“Basically the same planform vehicle they were double saucer lenticular. If you’re going to be going in and out of atmospheres like earth or other places might have you certainly need a little more aerodynamic type of vehicle. And the saucer has the capability of going through the air at tremendous rates of speed and handling the bow and trailing wave without making shockwave. So it can be very silent while traveling big rates of speed through the atmosphere.”
Gordon also believed in the crash of an alien spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, and the military found several aliens at the crash site.
“I had a good friend at Roswell, a fellow officer. He had to be careful about what he said. But it sure wasn’t a weather balloon, like the Air Force cover story. He made it clear to me what crashed was a craft of alien origin, and members of the crew were recovered.”
In one of his interviews, Cooper repeatedly argued that aliens who visit our planet on research missions are much more technically advanced than humans. The astronaut believed that the UN should carefully record all reports of UFOs, and was also confident that the governments of different countries were hiding data about extraterrestrial life.
In 2007, NLSI Interim Director David Morrison released a statement where he denied all the claims made by Gordon Cooper about UFOs and alien life. He said: “Sorry, but there is no compelling evidence for space aliens, and certainly not from NASA astronauts.”
Gordon was not the only person who believed in the existence of aliens and UFOs. Edgar Mitchell and Helen Sharman are two renowned astronauts who also believe in alien life outside Earth.
According to Edgar, aliens have contacted people several times, and UFOs had been visiting our planet for a long time.
“It’s been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it’s leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.”
On the other hand, Helen Sharman said: “Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it.” She began her space career back in 1989, when she passed a difficult selection among other astronauts and confirmed her abilities, getting into one of the first joint projects in the UK and the USSR.
She added that aliens may not be like humans, while it is possible they are here living with humans but invisible to us.