PITTSBURGH — NASA said it can find no records mentioning an unidentified object that may have landed in western Pennsylvania nearly 44 years ago.
The Coalition for Freedom of Information, a volunteer group which seeks to bring more credibility to the subject of UFOs through journalism and freedom of information quests, sued NASA in 2003 seeking information about the event in Kecksburg. The group's federal lawsuit, backed by the SyFy Channel cable network, was settled in October 2007 when NASA agreed to pay $50,000 in legal fees and search some of its records.
But that nearly two-year search ended in August and yielded nothing, Leslie Kean, a New York-based freelance author and documentarian who directs the all-volunteer CFI, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"I still believe, from all the work and the research and everything, that something came down" from the sky, Kean said. "But what it was, I have no idea."
NASA's press office didn't immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.
Agency scientists have repeatedly denied any manmade craft landed or crashed, saying the landing area wasn't consistent with the known orbits of any satellites or other craft. Military officials said it was a meteor at the time.
Yet NASA spokesman David Steitz told The Associated Press for a 40th anniversary story that the object appeared to be a Russian satellite that re-entered the atmosphere and broke up. NASA experts studied fragments from the object, but records of what they found were lost in the 1990s, Steitz said in 2005.
Steitz is on leave until next week, according to his voice mail. He didn't immediately return a call to a home phone listed in his name.
Witnesses to the Dec. 9, 1965, event, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, described a "fireball" in the evening sky and a metallic, acorn-shaped object about 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet in diameter that landed gently in the woods, according to media accounts at the time.
Witnesses also reported seeing the object on a truck, covered with a tarp. They said military personnel cordoned off the site and threatened residents who tried to get near the site.
A replica of the object, based on witness accounts, is still displayed atop the volunteer fire hall in Kecksburg, where local officials hold an annual UFO festival.
Kean said NASA didn't search all its records, only those from three offices where mentions of the Kecksburg incident were most likely.
It's possible NASA records exist in another office, have been lost or are classified, she said. But if classified records exist, NASA is supposed to say so under federal freedom of information regulations, and that hasn't happened, Kean said.
She dismisses the NASA spokesman's comments that the object was a Russian satellite.
"We wouldn't be in a lawsuit if after all these years their PR guy could just tell us that's what it was," she said. "For this guy to say it was a Russian satellite when NASA's own expert says it couldn't possibly be, that strikes me as bizarre."
Read more: http://www.centredaily.com/126/story/16204...r#ixzz0XjSNKpW5