Nov 30, 2016 I Paul Seaburn

Chinese Astronauts Hear Mysterious Space Knocking

Can China’s astronauts here things that no other astronauts can hear? Are aliens attempting to send messages just to Chinese space travelers? China’s first astronaut revealed in a recent interview that he heard strange and unexplained knocking sounds a number of times during his one and only flight in 2003. He claims he later told other astronauts and was shocked to find out many had also heard the knocks on their flights too. What’s causing the knocks that only the Chinese astronauts can hear? Loose parts? Low octane fuel? Aliens?

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Yang in the Shenzhen 5 capsule

A non-causal situation I have met in space is a knock that appeared from time to time.

Yang Liwei, now a major general in the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), talked to China Central Television recently about his experiences as China’s first astronaut. On October 15, 2003, he was the sole astronaut on the of Shenzhen 5 mission – the Chinese space program’s first manned mission. He landed successfully 21 hours later after orbiting the Earth 14 times … and after hearing a few mysterious knocks.

It neither came from outside nor inside the spaceship, but sounded like someone is knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer.

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There's no doorbell on this thing?

An experienced pilot, Yang admitted being worried about the sound and looked out the small window for a possible cause. None could be seen outside the spacecraft and a quick check found no cause inside either. He told engineers about the sound but they were unable to determine what it might be.

Before entering space, I have told them that the sound is a normal phenomenon, so there is no need to worry.

Yang was responsible for helping prepare future astronauts for their missions, so he told the two astronauts on Shenzhou 6 and the three on Shenzhou 7 about the knocking. All five reported hearing the mysterious knocking sounds and none could pinpoint where they were coming from or the cause.

There have been three subsequent Shenzhou missions (9, 10 and 11) to the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space stations and no knocking sounds have been reported. While Yang didn’t speculate, the most likely explanation is that an engineer found the cause and tightened the screw.

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They knocked three times!

While US astronauts haven’t heard knocking (at least that they’ll admit), they have heard music. In 1969, the Apollo 10 astronauts claimed to hear music when their orbit took them behind the moon and out of contact with Mission Control. The story came up on a television show earlier this year and Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan said it was just radio interference. There have been stories of Russian cosmonauts hearing whispers and a cosmonaut and an astronaut heard what they described as drum-like sounds coming out of an instrument panel on the Russian side of the International Space Station in 2004. No explanation was ever found.

It looks like aliens have definitely figured out that “In space, no one can hear you scream” but a little knocking can definitely spook astronauts and cosmonauts.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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