Russian Cosmonauts and Their Sightings of UFOs and Other Strange Phenomena

by Paul Stonehill


Soviet, and later, Russian cosmonauts have observed interesting , unusual, and often inexplicable phenomena while in space. Some of them have talked about their experiences, although doing so is not encouraged by their space program. A cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft; cosmonauts are professional space travelers.

Cosmonaut Vladimir Lyakhov once remarked about a very unusual phenomenon he observed from his spaceship looking down on Earth: two gigantic waves ascended from the waters of the Indian Ocean, and crashed onto each other. The mass of water resulting from the crash seemed to be a giant mountain that had vanished in an instant (published in Tekhnika-Molodezhi, Issue 3, 1980). Cosmonaut Vladimir Kovalyonok reported a very similar water pillar of over 100 kilometers in height in the Timor Sea near Australia (NLO magazine, 10/11, 1996). In an article published in Tekhnika-Molodezhi (Issue 3) back in 1979, cosmonaut and scientist Yevgeny Khrunov, remarked that UFOs cannot be denied, as thousands of people have observed them. Properties of unidentified objects simply astound the imagination. He was outspoken in another interview, a year later. It was in the pre-perestroika times, and Khrunov could not speak freely. Cosmonaut Aleksei Gubarev went a step further: he admitted that he believed in aliens. Interestingly enough, he mentioned the information that the Americans had at their disposal, information that confirmed his belief (Tekhnika-Molodezhi, Issue 1, 1980). Cosmonaut Valery Rozhdestvensky, a cosmonaut who does not believe in the presence of extraterrestrial civilization anywhere in the close vicinity to us, at the same time revealed knowledge about secret rumors or information that those outside of special circles (the Soviet space program and their military) could not know. In the article in Tekhnika-Molodezhi (Issue 10, 1980) he stated that he did not believe that a “small green man” actually knocked on the porthole of a Soyuz spaceship.


Russian UFO researchers managed to collect more information about cosmonauts and strange phenomena. An article published in Spektra newspaper (Issue 8, Leningrad, 1992, after the demise of the Soviet Union) lists several incidents. In 1976, Cosmonaut Vladimir Kubasov told a reporter that he and others had numerous facts that prove the existence of UFOs. This was the year of the famous Teheran UFO incident. In 1978, Vladimir Kovalyonok observed a strange object on August 15 from the Salyut-6 space station: it approached and distanced itself repeatedly. Cosmonauts Valery Ryumin and Leonid Popov, while aboard the same station in 1980 (from June 14 to 15) had observed a school of white glowing dots that took-off in the area of Moscow, and flew into space above their station. They reported it to the ground control.


An interesting sighting took place on September 2, 1978. Soviet cosmonauts Kovalyonok and Ivanchenkov observed the shadow of Salyut-6 orbital station over the clouds. The shadow had very strange orange-reddish color. What’s more amazing, it changed its size. Earlier that year, on August 25, both cosmonauts observed iridescent clouds: green, purple, reddish, blue, and even violet. Other Soviet cosmonauts (V. Sevastyanov, P. Klimuk) had reported silvery clouds. Their origin remains unexplained. Sevastyanov was mesmerized by their dull, occasionally pearly-white, cold, glitter. The structure of such clouds was either very thin (or bright) on the edges of the pitch-dark sky, or porous, resembling a swan’s wing.


These clouds are said to be a magic spectacle. Russian astronomer Vitold Tsesarsky first reported them in 1885. The clouds are the highest in the Earth’s atmosphere, located at the altitude of 70-90 kilometers. They consist of diffused particles, its nature still unclear.


Colonel Yury Nazarov, former deputy commander of the Soviet Space Mission Control Center, recalled that on August 29, 1978, cosmonauts Kovalyonok and Ivanchenkov (mentioned earlier) , and the newly arrived cosmonaut Bykovsky and East German cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn had observed an unidentified large-sized spherical object that flew around Salyut-6. After the cosmonauts returned to Earth, Soviet UFO researcher Vladimir Ajaja approached Bykovsky, to get some explanations, but the cosmonaut only admitted that they did observe something inexplicable from aboard the Salyut. The source is V. Ajaja’s booklet Znakomtes’, NLO (1990).

Cosmonaut Georgy Grechko reported seeing a strange being of gigantic dimensions over Mongolia. Georgy Grechko and Yuri Romanenko had also reported to the Tsentr (Soviet Space Mission Control Center) that while in their orbital station over the Falkland Islands they had actually observed huge letters. The photograph they took was delivered to Earth by visiting cosmonauts Dzhanibekov and Makarov.

Cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov, who perished in 1971, recalled the inexplicable noises he had heard in space, in his headset intercom: Sounds of dogs barking and babies crying. The Earth was below, and he was in orbit, yet he heard strange noises.

To his death Volkov was not able to explain it.

Cosmonauts Gagarin and Leonov heard music that the former described as “not of this Earth.” Not everything could be explained by sensory depravation. Nor did everyone involved attempt to seek explanations (NLO, 1999).

Cosmonaut Yury Malyshev said that when it comes to UFOs, no one in the world, probably, can say what they are. It is impossible to refute similar phenomena, for there were thousands, or tens of thousands of people who have witnessed them. But the physical nature of the (UFO-P.S.) phenomenon remains indeterminate (Tekhnika-Molodezhi, Issue 11, 1981). Earlier that year, Cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov was more cautious. He said that cosmonauts often observe peculiar light phenomena as of yet inexplicable in nature. The contemporary stage of research of the phenomena is similar to the early establishment of such sciences, as zoology and botany, when the naturalists simply described unknown species of animals and plants (Tekhnika-Molodezhi, Issue 1, 1981)

In the year 1982, on July 12, Soviet cosmonauts Georgy Beregovoy and Valentin Lebedev were able to observe an unusual drop-shaped object on the monitor’s screen of the Salyut-7. It flew, ascending, between the orbital space station and Progressor-14 craft. The object, at the distance of 200 meters, could have been the size of a spaceship. The cosmonauts reported their sighting to the Tsentr. This information comes from the books authored by Gherman Kolchin, former Soviet colonel and UFO phenomenon researcher. The author also recalled speaking with Cosmonaut Pyotr Klimuk in April of 1989, who confirmed he does not refute the existence of UFOs (Fenomenon NLO: vzglyad iz Rossii, Kolchin’s book published in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1994).

An interesting interview was published in Sputnik magazine. The subject of the article was perception of UFOs by cosmonauts and astronauts. It contained stories told by ten Soviet and American space explorers. Only one did not refute the possibility of UFOs coming to our galaxy. Yevgeny Khrunov actually mentioned that it is not possible to deny their (UFOs) presence in our galaxy. Thousands of people have observed them. Maybe they are but optical illusions, but some of their characteristics, for instance the change of their flight course at 90 degrees, boggle imagination.

Cosmonaut Gennady Strekalov mentioned that he saw strange phenomena several times, but is hesitant to classify what he saw as UFOs. But his colleagues did see “flying saucers,” and he envies them. Strekalov did not provide details about their sightings. He described the phenomenon he observed in 1990, on September 28, during his sojourn on the space station MIR: a sphere over the Newfoundland (at the altitude of 20-30 kilometers). The source is Rabochaya Tribuna newspaper, October 16, 1990 issue. The atmosphere was clear and visibility was perfect. The sphere was beautiful, and changed colors. It remained visible for ten seconds, and vanished instantly. Strekalov remembers that it had a perfect shape. He reported the incident to the Mission Control Center, but did not classify it as a UFO explaining that cosmonauts must be cautious. Cosmonaut Gennady Manakov was with Strekalov aboard the MIR space station station, and observed the same phenomenon.


In 1984, the crew aboard the Soviet orbital station Salyut-7 consisted of six cosmonauts: Leonid Kizil, Oleg At’kov, Vladimir Solovyew, Svetlana Savitskaya, Igor Volk, and Vladimir Dzhanibekov.

On the 155th day of the station’s flight, the crew was busy with planned experiments, tests, and scientific observations. They were about to start medical experiments. All of them were experienced, skilled cosmonauts. Then, something that was out of their experience, knowledge, and understanding occurred. In front of the Salyut- 7 station, out of nowhere, a large, orange, gas cloud suddenly appeared, its origin unknown. The cosmonauts immediately informed the Tsentr upravleniya poletom (Soviet Space Mission Control Center). While the astonished Tsentr analyzed the report, Salyut-7 entered the cloud. The crew had a brief impression that the orange cloud entered their station.

They were all engulfed by the mysterious orange glow, blinded, out of contact with their comrades. But their sight, however, was restored quickly. The cosmonauts stumbled to the station’s portholes. What they saw left them speechless: seven gigantic shapes could be easily discerned inside the orange cloud. Their political ideals, their faith in Marxist-Leninist postulates were gone in a flash. None doubted their eyes. None questioned the shapes: seven heavenly angels. The angels looked like humans, and yet they were different. Yes, the angels possessed huge wings, and blinding halos. The main difference, however, lay in the angels’ smiles. When they gazed upon the Soviet crew, they smiled. The Soviet cosmonauts recalled what wonderful smiles the angels had. Smiles of joy, of rapture…no human could smile like that. Ten minutes passed quickly. As the clock ticked away the time, the angels disappeared, along with their cloud. The crew of Salyut-7 felt a devastating loss. But Earth was demanding explanation. When the Tsentr received the report, it was immediately classified as “top secret.” A special team of doctors was formed to study cosmonauts’ well-being. Hence, instead of carrying out further experiments in space, the crew was ordered to measure its own physical and mental health. The tests indicated that the cosmonauts were well and of sound mind.

In view of the dominant ideology, the incident, quite embarrassing to the Soviet regime, was hushed up for years. The popular Russian NLO magazine (Issue 9, 1998) carried one account of the incident. The incident took place before the perestroika period, and in order to create unnecessary furor, the Politburo made sure that the report remained secret. The crew of the Salyut-7 was warned to keep silent. No angels could exist inside or outside the Soviet Union.


There are still episodes of the Soviet space exploration that are not widely discussed in Russia. Such are the accounts of the so-called “space whisper.” One former cosmonaut known only as, Cosmonaut X, revealed some information, but demanded that his name remain anonymous. He recalled that Soviet cosmonauts heard hushed up rumors about the “whisper,” but did not share definite information among themselves, nor did they report anything to the doctors. They were afraid that the latter would remove them from the space program. Cosmonaut X and his colleague believed the rumors to be a legend created by the first team of Soviet cosmonauts, to scare the greenhorns. He was wrong.


They were aboard a Soviet spacecraft, flying over the Southern hemisphere, when the “whisper” came to them. The narrator said that he suddenly felt as if someone else was next to them. He felt that some invisible being stared into his back; and it was a hard gaze. The cosmonaut had no doubt he was being observed. A second later his comrade, the flight engineer, who was looking into the porthole, sharply turned around and looked about him. Both were quite ordinary people, far removed from any mystical beliefs. But they were good friends, and knew each other long before the Star City training. They were not afraid to compare their impressions after the episode. They received different “texts,” but their initial reaction to the “whisper” was identical: both became mute and dumbfounded. The “whisper” came from the depths of Cosmonaut X’s consciousness and said: “You arrived here too early, and you did it in a wrong fashion. Trust me, for I am your ancestor on the maternal side. Do you remember, she told you; back when you were a child, about your great-grandfather, who had founded the D-s factory in the Urals? Sonny, you should not be here, go back to Earth, do not violate the Laws of the Creator…Sonny, you must return, return, return…”

The “whisper” also told the cosmonaut a very private story, as if to prove knowledge that existed only inside the family; it concerned the cosmonaut’s great-grandfather.

Both cosmonauts were back on Earth two days later. The “whisper” came back to them one more time; the “texts” of what it said were the same as the first time; and both felt the alien presence throughout their time in orbit.

The cosmonauts faced a dilemma: to report the incident or not. If they did, their careers could end immediately. They could be considered impressionable people, their psyche too unstable for further flights into space. Other cosmonauts kept somewhat silent about the “whisper,” at least nothing was reported to their superiors.

Cosmonaut X and his colleague spent endless hours trying to determine what it was that they had experienced. They were atheists, and both liked science fiction. This led them to a conclusion that alien intelligence, using some king of hypnosis, is determined to prevent the mankind from exploring the outer space. To convince the mankind that its sons and daughters in outer space are not experiencing hallucinations, hard facts are presented, facts picked up from probing human brains, memories and subconscious. How long have “they” researched our civilization? Perhaps for thousands of years.

But are the aliens so naïve as not to understand that we would see their ploy? Then, if it was not an alien “whisper”… whose would it be? Did the departed relatives truly visit Soviet crews in space? This conclusion shattered the cosmonauts’ convictions, their atheism, and their view of the world. Does it mean that there is life after death, and that the consciousness (not the physical body) continues to exist on other stages of existence? There must be a hierarchy to such stages, and on the top of the hierarchy would be the Creator, as the great-grandfather had informed the cosmonaut.

Their sense of duty told both cosmonauts that a report had to be made. They did not listen to that sense. But some other cosmonauts, who had heard the “whisper,” did make reports. As a result, special medical teams were introduced into the training program, top-rated medical hypnotists began to explore cosmonauts’ psyches, and the whole fight-training program underwent changes.

Cosmonaut X, who has since retired, does not know how the “whisper” is treated nowadays, and what conclusions Russian scientists have come to (the report was published in Press-Extra newspaper, Issue 135, 1997). He did say that his whole outlook on life had changed. The outer space is full of intelligence, and is much more complicated than we imagine it to be. Our present knowledge does not allow us to understand the essence of most processes taking place in the Universe. Our abilities are still quite limited. But for those who had heard the whisper” one thing is clear: the future exists, and it is endless, just as time and space are endless.

Who knows what awaits the humans in our exploration of the outer space? We have not wandered far from the embrace of our planets, but have already encountered wonders we are not able, as yet, to explain…


About the Author

Paul Stonehill is a researcher, author and lecturer. He is author of numerous articles for UFO-related and paranormal magazines, as well as of several books about Soviet and Russian UFOs; some of them co-authored with British UFO researcher and writer Philip Mantle.

Paul Stonehill is fluent in Russian, and knows Ukrainian.