Jul 23, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Mystery of Project Moon Dust: A Fascinating Top Secret Cold War Program

Murders made to look like suicides and accidents. Classified government documents fallen into the wrong hands. Stolen diaries; some of them burned and shredded for fear of what, one day, they might reveal. Powerful people with dangerous agendas. Famous faces. The Feds prowling around. Hollywood conspiracies. CIA agents keeping watch. Frightened people with secrets to hide. Wild sex. Drugs. Crazy parties and flowing booze. And, an incredible story of UFOs, aliens, Roswell, Area 51, Flying Saucers, and the death of a beautiful, but tragically scarred, icon. Her name was Marilyn Monroe. Nineteen-Sixty-Two: in January, among other things, the Beatles failed to grab from Decca Records a much-wanted record deal.  One month later, NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. March saw the birth of Taco Bell. In April West Side Story won ten Oscars at the 34th Academy Awards. As for May, that was the month in which Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was rightly hung by the neck until he was dead.

Then, in June, JFK gave the commencement address at Yale University. As for July, that’s when Wal-Mart came into existence. September saw a deadly typhoon kill 130 people in Hong Kong. Fans of “James Bond, 007” may like to know that the first Bond movie hit cinemas in October. The late Sean Connery played the assassin/secret-agent. November was one of the tensest months in U.S. history: the Cuban Missile Crisis almost brought the world to destruction by nuclear war. In quick time, and as a result of the tumultuous events of the previous month, the U.K. purchased an arsenal filled with Polaris missiles from the United States. Just in case Russia tried to do something crazy. You’ll note I omitted one particular month: August. There’s a reason for that. Something happened on the 4th of the month that shocked people everywhere. Marilyn Monroe’s life was snuffed out. The definitive blond bombshell was no more. It didn’t take long, however, before rumors began to circulate to the effect that Marilyn had not committed suicide. A mystery was born. It’s still with us. And it’s getting stranger. Out of this world, I might justifiably say.

(Nick Redfern / Lisa Hagan Books)

Now and again people ask me about a U.S, military program that began in the 1950s and that ran for a long time. Basically, it was an operation to retrieve crashed Soviet spacecraft and study the technology: was it more advanced than ours or not? That kind of thing. The reason why Moon Dust gets quite a bit of publicity, however, is because it appears in my 2021 book, Diary of Secrets: UFO Conspiracies & the Mysterious Death of Marilyn Monroe. Area 51, the Nevada Test and Training Range, aliens, JFK and the death of Marilyn Monroe: are they all connected? It’s a hugely charged saga that dates back to the mid-1990s and which is clearly not going to go away anytime soon. The vast majority of the story is reliant on a controversial, alleged CIA document provided to the late Milo Speriglio, an author of several books on Marilyn. It’s a CIA document dated August 3, 1962 and which deals with Marilyn Monroe’s supposed knowledge of Roswell and UFO-themed conspiracies. And matters relative to what is referred to as a “secret base.” Now, where might that be…? Area 51, of course. What is particularly interesting about the “Monroe document” is not so much what it says, but what it specifically doesn’t say.

Despite what many researchers have said, there is not even a single reference in the document to dead and retrieved aliens, extraterrestrials, flying saucers, or UFOs. Not at all. It just uses the hazy terms "dead bodies" and a "crashed spacecraft." And, given the fact that Project Moon Dust is mentioned in the "Marilyn Document," we might very well be talkng about a Russian craft and not about extraterrestrials. With that said, let's have a deeper look at Project Moon Dust. Was Moon Dust the main operation when it came to secretly locating, and also recovering, crashed, alien ships and their crews? Let's see: Back in 1979, the late UFO researcher Robert Todd obtained a 1961 Air Force Intelligence document (declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act) which offered intriguing data on the Moon Dust program – and on certain related operations, too. Dated November 3, 1961, the document states in part: 

"In addition to their staff duty assignments, intelligence team personnel have peacetime duty functions in support of such Air Force projects as Moondust, Bluefly, and UFO, and other AFCIN directed quick reaction projects which require intelligence team operational capabilities…Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO): Headquarters USAF has established a program for investigation of reliably reported unidentified flying objects within the United States. AFR 200-2 delineates 1127th collection responsibilities…Blue Fly: Operation Blue Fly has been established to facilitate expeditious delivery to FTD of Moon Dust or other items of great technical intelligence interest. AFCIN SOP for Blue Fly operations, February 1960, provides for 1127th participation. Moon Dust: As a specialized aspect of its over-all material exploitation program, Headquarters USAF has established Project Moon Dust to locate, recover and deliver descended foreign space vehicles. ICGL #4, 25 April 1961, delineates collection responsibilities."

The fact that Moon Dust undertook some intriguing operations is not in any doubt. Hundreds of Moon Dust files are now in the public domain – all thanks to the provisions of the FOIA. The records tell of the recoveries – by U.S. intelligence - of Soviet technology, parts of Chinese aircraft, and portions of burned-up satellites. But what about UFOs? The November 3, 1961 document refers to both UFOs and Project Moon Dust. The Air Force’s very own words make the connection. But, when the Air Force referenced UFOs, what, exactly, were they talking and thinking about? That is, perhaps, the most important aspect of this intriguing story.

For many people within Ufology, the term “UFO” firmly equates to “alien spacecraft.” But, does it really? No, it does not. A UFO is an unknown object flying in the sky – and that is all it is, until it’s identified. I found many such examples in the Moon Dust files where the word “UFO” was used, but where the data was clearly focused on Russian satellites, rocket-boosters and so on. In some cases, members of the public perceived the Earth-bound, falling remains of those satellites and rocket-boosters as UFOs, when they were seen hurtling through the Earth’s atmosphere. Studying those reports from members of the public, who thought they had seen UFOs, actually helped U.S. military intelligence to find and recover crashed and wrecked Russian technology. Sometimes they were successful. On other occasions, they drew a blank. Maybe Project Moon Dust operatives did recover alien spacecraft on one or more occasions. But, there is no evidence of that so far. There is, however, a great deal of data that shows Moon Dust personnel were using the word “UFO” for something akin to “probable decaying Soviet satellite” and not “aliens from Mars.”

(Nick Redfern) Marilyn and Moon Dust

I looked further into the wording of the Speriglio document. One section, was very important to this part of the story: “One such [illegible] mentions the visit by the President at a secret air base for the purpose of inspecting things from outer space. Journalist Dorothy Kilgallen replied that she knew what might be the source of the visit. In the mid-fifties Kilgallen learned of secret effort by US and UK governments to identify the origins of crashed spacecraft and dead bodies, from a British government official. Kilgallen believed the story may have come from the Mew Mexico story in the late forties. Kilgallen said that if the story is true, it could cause terrible embarrassment to Jack and his plans to have NASA put men on the moon.” In a brand new light, those words directly above became fascinating to me. If the U.S. government did retrieve a crashed UFO and its alien crew, then that would have been very concerning for President Kennedy – maybe even terrifying. And for the American public, too. Certainy amazing. Arguably, for everyone. But, would such an incredible finding really provoke “terrible embarrassment”? That amounts to very strange and confusing wording. There is, however, one angle that could have very easily explained that curious “embarrassment” issue. It’s if the Russians secretly managed to launch a manned-mission into space long before Yuri Gagarin’s history-making flight into space in April 1961 took place. 

Maybe, a Russian mission went catastrophically wrong and was kept hidden by either the United States or the Soviet Union - depending on which nation grabbed the mangled bodies and the wrecked craft first. The U.S. may have kept the whole incident under wraps because such a thing would have revealed the Russians had made a secret, pre-Gagarin flight long before the United States. That would have been an embarrassment. As for the Russians, if their mission went fatally wrong – and their crew and craft was retrieved by a U.S. Project Moon Dust-type team - then the Russians, too, would probably not want to broadcast all of that to the world. Many people have said I totally believe that the document is the real deal. That's not so.

I thought about ending this section with the words of the late sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke. Of another famous mystery, that of the loch Ness Monster, Clarke said: “If you want my personal opinion, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I believe in Nessie.” To a degree, that’s how I feel about the Speriglio document. Maybe, it’s genuine. Perhaps, it isn’t. That’s not a cop-out or an example of sitting on the fence. All I can say for sure is that my investigation is not at its end. As long as new leads and threads keep coming along, I’ll still be looking for the answers to the most important question in this story: was Marilyn Monroe killed because of aliens? And, I'll still be looking for more on Project Moon Dust, one of the most intriguing projects of the U.S. government during the Cold War. As for the future: well, much more has come through since my Diary of Secrets book surfaced. That, however, is for another day.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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