As SpaceX Live-Streamed Its Latest Shuttle Launch, Viewers Spotted Some Strange Shapes In The Sky

Watching from home on their laptops, space enthusiasts around the world are being treated to a historic moment. SpaceX is sending humans into the skies – the only private corporation ever to do so. But while boundaries are being broken, people watching the live stream of the event can’t help but become distracted. Around the launch site, you see, strange, unidentified shapes that look like UFOs appear to be hovering nearby.

Just before the SpaceX craft was sent barreling into the atmosphere, this bizarre phenomenon pulled viewers’ focus away from the ground. And for some watching on, there was no doubt as to what was happening: the pioneering launch was being observed by otherworldly parties.

Keen-eyed viewers even witnessed unexplained objects after the SpaceX rocket had left Earth. This time, though, the footage was coming from cameras set up inside the craft. And clear as day, something unusual could be seen flying across the screen.

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So, were these really extraterrestrials or something more mundane? And if aliens were indeed appearing, why did they choose this particular launch to make themselves known? After all, since SpaceX was first set up in 2002, the Californian company has sent a number of spacecraft beyond our planet’s atmosphere.

Famously, SpaceX was the brainchild of Elon Musk, who aspired to change the face of space travel forever. Ultimately, he envisioned a time when traveling beyond the Earth would become more accessible for normal people – not just highly trained astronauts. And beginning with a craft called Falcon 1, the company started shooting rockets toward the stars.

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Falcon 1 proved itself a trailblazer, as its development and launch costs were notably low – thanks in part to a cheaper than usual engine. And, intriguingly, the rocket itself was actually capable of being used again. This was unusual, too, as its equivalents at the time could only be employed once.

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But getting Falcon 1 up into the sky was by no means an easy process. While the rocket’s launch in 2006 initially looked as though it was going to plan, disaster ultimately struck when a fire broke out on the craft. This meant, of course, that the mission had to be curtailed. Yet even despite this failure, SpaceX was able to pick up a lucrative contract from NASA.

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Attempts to launch Falcon 1 continued in 2007 and 2008, but again the SpaceX team were met with failure. On each occasion, the rocket wasn’t able to climb to the height needed to enter into orbit around Earth. Still, all the hard work eventually paid off, as in the month following this last effort, Falcon 1 blasted off into the atmosphere without a hitch.

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This breakthrough was followed two years later with the successful launch of Falcon 9. Then, in 2011, the company started to build a site for the take-off of Falcon Heavy. This particular craft was intended to eventually act as a cost-effective means of reaching deep space.

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In around the same period, SpaceX broke new ground by launching the Dragon capsule into space and bringing it back to Earth again. And Dragon proved particularly handy in 2012 when it brought goods to the International Space Station – making it the first privately owned vessel to ever complete such a task.

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Furthermore, as part of SpaceX’s unique approach is to reuse its equipment, the Falcon 9 rocket was brought back to Earth in 2015 for re-deployment in the future. In another innovative twist, the company also started making use of drones.

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Finally, in 2018, SpaceX sent Falcon Heavy out into the Solar System for the first time. And while the launch wasn’t completely error-free, the spacecraft still succeeded at taking a car containing a test dummy into the Sun’s orbit.

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All of these projects had been in aid of a specific goal: putting humans into space. And in late May 2020, SpaceX was finally ready to do just that. Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley were the brave astronauts on board the Crew Dragon, and prior to blast-off, Hurley could be heard speaking to mission control. “SpaceX, Dragon, we’re go for launch. Let’s light this candle,” he said.

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Hurley and Behnken were being sent on a 19-hour journey to the International Space Station, making them members of a very exclusive group. Only a handful of Americans have ever taken a new space vessel into orbit, while the launch itself was only the fifth one of its kind in U.S. history.

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Hurley and Behnken’s spaceflight – known as Demo-2 – had actually been penciled in to take place on May 27, although poor weather conditions had ultimately delayed the expedition by four days. And it was crucial that SpaceX got the mission right. After all, Demo-2 was the final test planned before Crew Dragon could be given the green light for further manned space travel.

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Thankfully, Crew Dragon successfully broke away from Falcon 9 following the launch. The vessel was then set to autopilot while the two crew members conducted research. As the astronauts drew closer to the International Space Station, though, Hurley assumed the controls to see how well the craft would operate in human hands.

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Then, upon arrival, Hurley and Behnken were met by a fellow American and two Russians already aboard the International Space Station. The newcomers were scheduled to remain at the station for anywhere up to four months, although the length of their stay would be governed in part by decisions and events back down on Earth.

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So, why was the success of this mission so important? Well, in May 2020, National Geographic quoted a NASA employee named Kathy Lueders as saying, “This is a critical test flight. Bob [Behnken] and Doug [Hurley] are going to get to test fly the vehicle and check it out… and make sure that before it’s certified, the design is working.”

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Then, once Behnken and Hurley have completed their stay aboard the International Space Station, the pair will return to Earth and – with the help of some parachutes – hopefully touch down somewhere in the sea near Florida. Their splash landing may even bring to mind the daring descents of past NASA missions.

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But even though Behnken and Hurley’s trip was an event in itself, the monumental launch was somewhat overshadowed by what appeared to be unexplained interlopers. Yes, as viewers from around the globe kept their eyes peeled to their screens, they noticed something completely bizarre – something that could, in fact, have been classed as UFOs.

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And this wasn’t the first SpaceX mission to have raised the alarm in this way, either. During the Falcon 9 launch in the winter of 2017, for example, some in California were left baffled by what they could see in the wake of the flight.

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That Falcon 9 rocket was transporting a number of satellites into space to be used for communications purposes. After the twilight blast-off, though, a strange sight appeared above California. Incredibly, the state’s skies were illuminated in a bright and fantastic way.

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Yes, as part of the rocket began to disconnect from the rest of the craft, there was an unusual surge of light – one that seemed almost extraterrestrial in its nature. Even Elon Musk weighed in on the phenomenon on Twitter, although the SpaceX founder didn’t seriously suggest that aliens had visited Earth.

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But Musk wasn’t the only famous figure to comment on the lights in the sky, as celebrities such as Jaden Smith, will.i.am and Tony Hawk all publicly wondered what exactly they were looking at. They appeared as awed by the event as anyone else, in fact.

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Then, more than two years later, a SpaceX launch once again found itself at the center of fevered speculation. You see, as the Dragon spacecraft containing Behnken and Hurley prepared for lift-off, something curious appeared to reveal itself. Video footage of the event shows strange shapes materializing in the vicinity of the craft.

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Upon noticing this bizarre anomaly, conspiracy theorists understandably went into overdrive. In a clip of the launch that had been posted to YouTube, for example, the shapes seen were described as “UFOs.” And while these objects appear on screen only briefly, this was enough to excite folks looking for evidence of alien visitations to Earth.

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Naturally, some are skeptical as to whether or not this is evidence of extraterrestrial life. It could be said, for example, that the alleged “UFOs” are merely insects positioned in front of the cameras. But such a prospect hasn’t put alien hunters off. They appear to be convinced that the shapes are, in fact, the real deal.

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Yes, when the YouTube video of the alleged extraterrestrial visitation spread around the web, a number of people seemed to be completely sold on the idea of an alien presence near the launch. For instance, one user wrote in the comments section below the clip, “I can just imagine ETs looking and laughing at the inferior human technology.”

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And another piece of footage has emerged that may further support the claims of extraterrestrial intervention. This film was actually shot from the spacecraft itself, and it looks to show some bright objects floating over our planet. One clip even seems to show an unidentified entity traveling past Earth at a rapid pace.

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A further video also appears to depict an object traveling from Earth and into space. And as you may expect, these supposed sightings have raised a few questions. One intrigued viewer of the live stream mused, “After the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 crew demo, an object from Earth to space is rapidly launched in the 14th minute of the stream. Is this a UFO, space junk or a rocket-owned piece?”

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So, does the footage really show an alien spacecraft? Ufologist Scott Waring thinks so. Writing on the website ET Data Base, Waring suggested that the object had been controlled by extraterrestrial beings. They were there, he implied, to catch a glimpse of human space technology.

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Waring explained, “This is a great capture of a UFO flying past the Dragon SpaceX capsule while it was about to dock at the space station. This UFO passed in front of the SpaceX capsule, so we know it is small – like an alien drone monitoring history being made.”

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Of course, there are many other plausible theories. Indeed, despite Waring’s convictions, it’s possible that the anomalies could be accounted for by something as simple as dust being in the line of the camera. Asteroids or satellites may also have been traveling through space at that time.

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When it comes to the video of the launch from the ground, meanwhile, those strange shapes could very well have been bugs in front of the camera. And while ufologists may consider this to be a simplistic – or even lazy – explanation, it’s arguably a more believable prospect than alien visitation.

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Even famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has suggested that ufologists get ahead of themselves at times. “The universe brims with mysteries,” he said in a 2017 interview with CNN. “Just because you don’t know what it is you’re looking at, [it] doesn’t mean it’s intelligent aliens visiting from another planet.”

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Furthermore, some alleged UFO observations could more plausibly be attributed to pareidolia. Simply put, this involves seeing figures or formations that aren’t actually there. “It’s a form of apophenia, which is a more general term for the human tendency to seek patterns in random information,” astronomer Larry Sessions explained in an April 2020 piece for the website EarthSky. “Everyone experiences it from time to time.”

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So, maybe the supposed UFO sightings that occurred around the SpaceX launch could better be explained by other theories. But whatever the true causes of this phenomenon, the future of space travel looks set to be revolutionized by SpaceX. Not only is the company openly planning to bring people to the Moon, but it’s also hoping to take humans to Mars.

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And while speaking to National Geographic in May 2020, a NASA employee named Jim Bridenstine explained the significance of SpaceX’s work. “We envision a future where low-Earth orbit is entirely commercialized – where NASA is one customer of many customers, where we have numerous providers that are competing on cost and innovation and safety,” he stated. “It’s an era in human spaceflight where more space is going to be available to more people than ever before.”

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Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Behnken and Hurley’s successful launch, Musk was reported to be feeling proud of the company’s achievements. According to the Daily Express, he said, “I’m really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it’s kind of hard to talk, frankly. It’s been 18 years working towards this goal, so it’s hard to believe that it’s happened.”

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And in spite of certain setbacks, SpaceX appears to be sticking to its guns in terms of its approach. Jennifer Levasseur, a historian with the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, explained the company’s ethos to National Geographic, saying, “We’re going to do it our own way. We’re not going to necessarily do it the old way. We’re able to change the shape of it ourselves; we’re able to change the way it works.”

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So, it remains to be seen whether future SpaceX launches bring further puzzling sights – and further supposed extraterrestrials. But regardless of whether you’re a UFO skeptic or a fervent believer, you should listen to what Helen Sharman has to say on the subject.

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In 1991 Sharman made history when she became the first British person to leave planet Earth. Then, after heading off into the atmosphere, the research chemist spent just over a week on board the space station Mir with a team of Soviet cosmonauts. So, she knows more than most about what lies beyond our planet. And when Sharman gave her surprising thoughts on the likelihood of extraterrestrials, they made plenty of headlines.

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Of course, Sharman isn’t alone in speculating upon alien life. Ever since humans first studied the stars, we’ve been asking ourselves the same question: are we alone in the universe? Hoping to find the answers, scientists began actively experimenting with ways to communicate with distant planets back in the 19th century. And this fascinating field of research continues hundreds of years later.

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A major breakthrough came in the early 1960s, when an astronomer named Frank Drake came up with an intriguing formula – one that is still used by scientists today. He claimed that by multiplying seven unique values together, researchers could predict the number of intelligent civilizations that are able to communicate across space. Nevertheless, many of these factors – such as the total of Earth-like planets in existence – are open to interpretation.

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And, interestingly, the Drake equation has produced an extremely wide array of estimates as to the number of intelligent civilizations out there – ranging from billions to zero. To many, then, it’s viewed as little more than a theoretical tool. But if the upper estimates of intelligent life are true, how close are we to understanding these alien civilizations?

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In any case, there have been some investigations that have yielded what seem to be promising results. In 1976 NASA’s Viking Project became the first mission to successfully arrive on the surface of Mars, and while there the landers recorded some startling information. According to an experiment, nutrients in the soil were being metabolized into methane – suggesting the presence of organic life.

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And while none of the Viking landers’ other experiments supported those findings – meaning NASA eventually dismissed them – there are still some who believe that the 1976 mission really did find evidence of life on Mars. Then, 20 years later, more proof emerged to apparently support these claims.

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You see, in 1996 NASA researchers claimed to have identified nanobacteria on a meteorite that had originated from Mars. Then, six years on, a team of Russian scientists announced that a type of microbe now found on Earth may have originated on the Red Planet. And in 2004 there was perhaps the most encouraging news to date.

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This time, three separate institutions revealed that they had discovered traces of methane on Mars. And although the gas could have been produced by geological activity, there is a high chance that its presence is the byproduct of an organic process. Currently, scientists plan to send equipment into space to test their theory. But it should be known, though, that the Red Planet isn’t the only potential source of alien life.

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Just one year after the Viking missions landed on Mars, researchers at Ohio State University detected something known as the “Wow!” signal. This burst of radio activity is believed to have originated somewhere in the vicinity of the Sagittarius constellation, and it continues to baffle specialists to this day. In 1984 the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was also founded to search for and study any future transmissions from space.

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Then, in 2003, researchers from SETI trained a giant telescope on the sky in an attempt to track down the source of some 200 previously recorded signals. And while the majority of the transmissions had faded, there was one that remained – beaming out of what appeared to be an empty spot in space. According to many experts, this is the closest that humans have ever come to communicating with extraterrestrial life.

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Yet researchers have picked up other possible indicators on planets a little closer to home. For example, in 2002 astrobiologists at the University of Texas suggested that microbes may just account for chemical anomalies in the clouds above Venus. The following year, researchers in Italy theorized that the sulfur present on Europa – a moon of Jupiter – could perhaps be evidence of organic activity.

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In 2001 experts also revisited the Drake equation, using new techniques to refine the factors first outlined 50 years beforehand. Now, they were able to more accurately estimate many of the elements used to make the calculation. And the team eventually concluded that the number of potential alien civilizations capable of communicating with Earth was actually in the hundreds of thousands.

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Still, as scientists have studied and debated the potential for life on other planets, others have taken a more hands-on approach to solving the mysteries of the universe. Since the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space in 1961, over 550 astronauts have journeyed to the stars.

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Today, in fact, there are about half a dozen people on the International Space Station at any one time. But space was a far less populated place back in 1989, when Helen Sharman first began contemplating a change of career. At that time, the much more basic Mir station – maintained by the Soviet Union – provided a home for astronauts away from planet Earth.

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In Britain – where Sharman lived – there wasn’t even a space program to speak of. However, with the Cold War drawing to a close, the powers that be were searching for ways to bolster the country’s relationship with the Soviet Union. And as a result, they hit upon the idea of Project Juno.

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Essentially, Project Juno was Britain’s attempt to piggyback onto the success of the Soviet cosmonauts – booking a spot for a homegrown astronaut on their next mission. At the time, the authorities had hoped that this initiative would help to foster a connection between the two nations. Now, all they needed was a willing volunteer.

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Of course, that task eventually fell to Sharman. She had grown up in the English city of Sheffield with an interest in science from a young age. And even though she’d been warned by a teacher that chemistry and physics classes were dominated by males, Sharman decided to pursue her passion. Then, after graduating from Birkbeck College in London, she found a job as a research chemist in Slough.

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And after two years working for the confectionery company Mars Wrigley, Sharman happened to hear a radio advertisement seeking participants for Project Juno. This announced, “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.” Intrigued, the chemist joined 13,000 individuals all keen to become the first British person in space.

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Slowly, the team behind Project Juno filtered through the applicants and eventually came up with a shortlist of 150 candidates – including Sharman. And although she did not have any previous experience, her foreign language skills, scientific education and personal fitness level helped propel her to the top of the list.

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Then, after an intense period of assessments and tests, the shortlist for Project Juno was whittled down to just two candidates. And to her surprise, Sharman was one of them. Competing against her for the coveted spot was Major Tim Mace – a helicopter pilot with a background in aeronautical engineering. Together, the pair would travel to Russia to begin training.

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For 18 months the two hopefuls prepared for the mission, with neither of them knowing which one would actually go into space. Then, finally, a decision was made: Sharman would be the one to accompany the Russian cosmonauts to Mir. And in May 1991 the 27-year-old boarded a rocket in Kazakhstan and began her incredible journey.

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For eight days, Sharman lived and worked on Mir, conducting a number of experiments in space. As well as studying the effect of microgravity on crystals, she carried out a number of biological tests. When Sharman wasn’t immersed in scientific work, however, the Sheffield native used a radio to communicate with curious children back on Earth.

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And while conditions on the ISS are relatively luxurious – astronauts enjoy state-of-the-art communications technology and even gourmet food – they stand in stark contrast to life on Mir. According to Sharman, meals there consisted of canned meat and soup, and it was common for power cuts to leave the entire station in the dark.

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But before long, it was time for Sharman to return to Earth, where she found herself propelled into the spotlight as a symbol of space-age Britain. Still, this fame was short-lived; unwilling to become a celebrity, the one-time astronaut withdrew from the blaze of publicity. Instead, she simply returned to normality.

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Then, 24 years after Sharman’s visit to Mir, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake embarked on a mission to the ISS. By that time, Project Juno had been all but forgotten, and so many regarded him as the first official Briton in space. His predecessor, meanwhile, had begun working as operations manager at Imperial College London’s Department of Chemistry.

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Yet while Sharman appears not to overly court publicity, she has spoken about life in space in the years since her time on Mir. And in January 2020 a conversation published in The Guardian thrust the pioneering astronaut into the limelight once more – as she had surprising things to say about aliens.

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During the interview, Sharman discussed the notion of life on other planets from the perspective of an astronaut who has seen first-hand the enormity of space. And, shockingly, she confirmed that she was indeed a staunch believer in the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. What’s more, she claimed that aliens may already be here.

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“Aliens exist. There [are] no two ways about it,” Sharman readily proclaimed. “There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life.” The former astronaut acknowledged, however, that extraterrestrial beings may look completely different from what we would assume.

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“Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not,” Sharman continued. “It’s possible they’re here right now, and we simply can’t see them.” That said, on her website, she is quick to point out that she does not believe humanoid aliens are currently residing on Earth.

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On a separate page dedicated to the topic of alien life, Sharman’s website details the former astronaut’s beliefs. This reads, “The Earth – along with some spacecraft that humans have sent into space – supports all life we know. [But Sharman] agrees with the view of many scientists that it is possible for meteorites to have brought to Earth molecules that were – or could be – precursors to life and perhaps even something we might consider to be life itself.”

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sharman is far from the only astronaut to speak out about the possibility of alien civilizations. In 2018 director Darren Aronofsky released One Strange Rock – a National Geographic documentary exploring life on Earth. And while promoting the series, a number of astronauts were interviewed by the press.

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Some, it seems, were reserved when discussing the prospect of alien life. In a 2018 interview with Mashable, astronaut Mae Jemison explained, “We have to think through things to find the evidence.” By contrast, others such as Jeff Hoffman – who has clocked over 1,200 hours in space – were more enthusiastic.

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“I believe there is life elsewhere in the universe,” Hoffman told Mashable. “But as a scientist, I look for evidence. And as yet, we have [none]. So, I have nothing to support my belief, but I still believe it.” Meanwhile, famous Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield pointed out the sheer size of the universe and, in doing so, highlighted the difficulty inherent in searching for alien civilizations.

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Furthermore, while there is the possibility that our planet is completely unique and the only one in the universe capable of supporting living creatures, most experts believe that such a scenario is incredibly unlikely. According to Hadfield, it may instead be the case that while “life is relatively common, complex, intelligent life is rare.”

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Hadfield also noted that just a single discovery would open up an entire realm of possibility in the search for alien intelligence. He told Mashable, “If we can find one fossil on Mars, or one little tube worm deep under the oceans of Europa or Enceladus, then the universe is full of life.”

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And in September 2019 former NASA astronaut Michael Collins spoke out during a question-and-answer session on Twitter. Half a century earlier, he had made history as the third person on the momentous Apollo 11 mission to the moon. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had become the first men to walk on the lunar surface, Collins had piloted the command module that would bring them all back to Earth.

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Throughout the session, fans seized the opportunity, then, to ask Collins a number of probing questions. But one commenter took things even further – inquiring of the former astronaut whether he believed in the existence of alien life. And the answer, astonishingly, was a resounding yes.

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Unfortunately, Collins did not elaborate on the reason for his claim that aliens exist, but it seems probable that the astronaut and Sharman found such life an inevitability when confronted with the vastness of space. And on Twitter, his answer was met with a flurry of comments – each agreeing with the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence existing somewhere in the universe.

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Still, even if these alien lifeforms do exist, will science ever succeed in tracking them down? Well, in June 2020 – so, five months after Collins’ Twitter response – a report was published in the Astrophysical Journal. Apparently, a group of researchers had returned to Drake’s equation and once again re-evaluated its results.

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This time, the team had fed new data into the equation, and consequently they had calculated that there could be more than 200 alien civilizations capable of communicating within our galaxy alone. But we probably shouldn’t get too excited yet. The researchers conceded, after all, that the actual number of civilizations may be much lower – at just 36. And owing to the distance between our planet and these hypothetical life forms, it may be thousands of years before an actual conversation can begin.

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