Of all people, the ones who probably should have seen UFOs if they're out there are astronauts. Well, it just so happens that, a few astronauts have indeed come forward over the years with accounts of unexplained experiences in space. The latest to do so is former NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger, who lived aboard the now-defunct Russian Space Station Mir for five months in 1997. Linenger's stay aboard Mir was marked by an accidental fire and near-catastrophic systems breakdown that according to his NASA bio "altered the whole nature of his mission and served to change the relationship between the U.S. and the Russian space programs." Also, he saw UFOs. That's a really weird five months.
Linenger, a retired captain of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, spoke about his experiences with UFOs and other anomalies witnessed from Space Station Mir during an interview last year. He says he witnessed bizarre, unexplained things, many times during his stay in space. From the interview:
”Well I’m going to stick my neck out, but how many people think I saw a UFO when I was up there? Well I did, I saw things in the true sense of the word, unidentified flying objects – don’t take me out of context there – no aliens. But I saw stuff that made me call my crewmates over and say ‘what the heck is that?'”
It's not surprising he gave the caveat of not seeing aliens. It's highly doubtful a Navy physician and NASA astronaut would jump to that conclusion unless he saw an alien's big spooky eyes staring right at him. He says that the nature of witnessing these things in space make it hard to tell what exactly you're looking at, but he does describe some pretty strange—and weirdly familiar—sightings:
“We’d look and sometimes it was metallic, it was like a spoon if you were off in the distance and in the province of space good luck figuring out if it’s a really small object close-by, something floated out of the airlock.
Is it something 100,000 miles away that’s the size of a big spacecraft? It’s very hard to distinguish that, usually it was something you could kind of explain, maybe an external tank or something like that. But you would see things and you go ‘wow, that’s cool – I don’t know what that was exactly, but it’s not a satellite’.”
Linenger also says that UFOs and anomalous events are just as noteworthy in space as it is on Earth:
"You definitely, just like when you see something weird [on Earth], call everyone over like ‘I don’t care what you’re doing, get over here and take a look at this.”
It's all very interesting. Of course, as Jerry Linenger says, distance in space is weird and it's hard to tell what it is you're looking at. Still, these are trained astronauts we're talking about. That they would be surprised and excited by unexplained things up in space suggests that there might just be some surprising, exciting, and unexplained things up there after all.