The satellite mystery originated in 1954 when newspapers including the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the San Francisco Examiner ran stories attributed to retired naval aviation major and UFO researcher Donald Keyhoe saying that the US Air Force had reported that two satellites orbiting Earth had been detected. At this time no man-made satellites had been launched.
In February 1960 there was a further report that the US Navy had detected a dark, tumbling object in an orbit inclined at 79° from the equator with an orbital period of 104.5 minutes. Its orbit was also highly eccentric with an apogee of 1,728 km (1,074 mi) and a perigee of only 216 km (134 mi). At the time the Navy was tracking a fragment of casing from theDiscoverer VIII satellite launch which had a very similar orbit.
An object photographed in 1998 during the STS-88 mission has been widely claimed to be this “alien artifact”. However, it is more probable that the photographs are of a thermal blanket that had been lost during an EVA.