UPDATE The NASA Apollo-Saturn Rocket Test Launch UFO Sighting (Washington State MUFON, May

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UPDATE The NASA Apollo-Saturn Rocket Test Launch UFO Sighting (Washington State MUFON, May 31, 1988.) I have some followup information on the UFO report made by Jack Allen, a Boeing engineer who currently lives in Snohomish, Washington. You may recall from my first report that he was employed as a quality control inspector in 1966 by General Electric at the Mississippi Test Facility during a test firing of the second stage of a Apollo-Saturn rocket. At that time he witnessed, along with many others, a UFO approach the test facility and hover over the updraft of the rocket burn during the duration of the test. First, a correction in the name of the rocket. The rocket that was being test fired at the time of the incident was the second stage of the Saturn V-B rocket, not the Saturn IV-B as had previously been reported. No test firings of the Saturn IV-B occurred at the Mississippi Test Facility. This second stage rocket is correctly referred to as the S-II-T or S-II-1, depending on the version. I talked to Bob Lessels, a Media Affairs officer at Marshall Space Flight Center (205/544-6539) and he provided me with a chronology of possible dates. I also talked to Jack Allen again to verify to the best of his recollection which test firing it was, since it is unlikely now that it was the first one. A bit of background about the facility itself. The NASA facility in question is located approximately 60 miles East of New Orleans on the Gulf Coast in Hancock County, Mississippi, on the East Pearl River. It has undergone a couple of name changes since 1966. Until very recently it has been known as the National Space Technology Laboratory (NSTL), and its new name is the J.C. Stennis Space Center. The Public Affairs representatives at the facility are Max Herring and Ms. Myran Webb (601/688-3341). The first captive test firing of the S-II-T occurred on April 23, 1966, according to Bob Lessels. He used as a reference a NASA publication authored by David Akens entitled the "Saturn Illustrated Chronology". Although the time of the firing is not mentioned, a photograph indicates that it was a daytime firing, not a night firing as reported by Jack Allen. The test was successful and lasted 15 seconds. The next firing was scheduled for May 10, 1966, but was cancelled. On the 11th the engine fired for 47 seconds but there was a premature cutoff. A third captive test firing of the S-II- T occurred on May 17th, and lasted 154 seconds, followed by a fourth test on May 20th which lasted 354.5 seconds. On May 28th the S-II-T was destroyed in an accident during another test firing and a full investigation into the cause ensued. The destruction of the S-II-T caused the Apollo launch schedule to be changed, adding about a month's delay. On July 5, 1966 there was a successful test Apollo-Saturn 203 launch and the first flight of the S-II stage from California. On August 13th the S-II-1 arrived at the Mississippi Test Facility. On December 30, 1966 at the Mississippi Test Facility the first static firing of the flight version of the S-II-1 was conducted. On January 5, 1967 an 18-member S-II task team was assembled, and Col. Sam Yarchin was assigned the position of team leader. On January 11, 1967 the initial post-static checkout of the S-II-1 ended. Finally, the source mentions that a S-II-3 stage firing occurred on September 19, 1967, but it doesn't say where. Jack Allen is sure that the test firing occurred at night at approximately 11:00 p.m. He now thinks that, if the first test firing had been during daylight, the UFO incident must have occurred during the second test firing. This would place the occurrence of the event as May 11th, 1966, during the premature cutoff of the test. This still needs to be further confirmed by obtaining the exact time of the testing. --Donald A. Johnson, Ph.D.


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