Project Blue Book: The Longest-Running Top-Secret Government UFO Program You've Never Heard Of

This article was produced in partnership with the History Channel's Project Blue Book, who sponsor IFLScience. Learn more here.

In recent months, leaked military intelligence has been attracting international attention, yet again prompting the question: Is there something – or someone – else out there?

Of course, the question of intelligent life beyond our planet is nothing new. A top-secret United States program, made available online in 2015, even shows the lengths governments have gone to in order to investigate that very question. The program, called Project Blue Book, is the longest-running UFO investigation conducted by the US government. 

It all started in 1947 when the government began conducting investigations into unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and related phenomena under the name Project Sign, which later evolved into Project Grudge. From 1952 to 1969, the United States Air Force worked under Project Blue Book to scientifically analyze data related to UFOs and determine if they were a threat to national security.

Of the 12,618 UFO sightings recorded during Project Blue Book, 701 remain "unidentified" to this day. FBI

In the short amount of time the program was in operation, there were 12,618 sightings researched and investigated – 701 of which remain “unidentified” to this day. More than half a century later, about 130,000 pages of files from the project were made available to the public online.

Outlined in the heavily marked pages are some of the project’s most famous cases, including the 27-minute “dogfight” between a UFO and a North Dakota Air National Guard lieutenant in 1948 as well as the formation of lights seen over a small Texas town for two months in 1951 known as the Lubbock Lights. There's even the case of the Flatwoods Monster that tormented a small West Virginia town and terrified a nation in 1952, which remains unsolved to this day.

In just a few months, these cases will be investigated in a new scripted drama series called Project Blue Book coming to cable network HISTORY this winter. The all-star cast in each episode draws from actual case files and methodically blends UFO theories with authentic historical accounts. 

Whether you have your own personal out-of-this-world extraterrestrial experience or you’re a total skeptic, you can check it all out for yourself at Comic-Con in San Diego this weekend. Here, you can take time to investigate past UFO cases for yourself and have a professional sketch artist bring your own UFO experience to life (if you have one, of course).

In addition, a collaboration between HISTORY and SpaceSpeak is teaming up to try to answer one of humanity’s greatest burning questions: Is there life beyond Earth? To help find out, you can now beam a text message made up of radio waves billions of miles into space using a transmitter attached to a parabolic dish. Developed by SpaceSpeak, the technology allows these messages to travel through space for millions of years. Senders can program their message to automatically rebroadcast each year and track how far the message has traveled.

From top-secret programs to curious citizens, it seems the quest for alien life continues to capture the attention of both believers and skeptics alike.

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