Vela Incident

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The Vela Incident (sometimes referred to as the South Atlantic Flash) was an unidentified "double flash" of light that was detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite on September 22, 1979.

Some specialists who examined the data speculated that the double flash, characteristic of a nuclear explosion, may have been the result of a nuclear weapons test:"The conclusions of the Presidential panel (the Ad Hoc Panel) were reassuring, as they suggested that the most likely explanation of the Vela detection was a meteoroid hitting the satellite — in part because of the discrepancy in bhangmeter readings. Others who examined the data, including Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the national laboratories, and defense contractors reached a very different conclusion — that the data supported the conclusion that on 22 September 1979, Vela 6911 had detected a nuclear detonation." ( PDF of report released by FOIA request, Frank Ruina, chair, May 23, 1980.)

However, it has never been ruled out that the "double flash" signal might have been a spurious electronic signal that was generated by an aging detector in an old satellite. No corroboration of an explosion, such as the presence of nuclear byproducts in the air, was ever made, even though there were numerous passes in the area by U.S. Air Force planes that were specifically designed to detect airborne radioactive...
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