Roswell: Alien Spacecraft or Top Secret Spy Project?

In 1978, former nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman met the retired Marcel, who convinced him that he and other eyewitnesses from 1947 were willing to talk about what was really found on that ranch, something that Marcel referred to as "not of this Earth."

"It was clear that we're not talking about some dingbat base with a bunch of guys sitting around playing cards with nothing to do," Friedman said. "We're talking about the 509th — the atom bombers — these were the guys who dropped the bomb on Japan."

Friedman — who had previously worked on nuclear power plants for space applications — began his own investigation of the events surrounding Roswell. "I followed up enough to find a number of key people, and with no Internet available, it took a lot of work," he said.

As the story grew over the years, it included claims of multiple crash sites and the recovery of alien bodies.

The Air Force issued two subsequent reports in the 1990s, concluding that the material recovered in 1947 was, in fact, from Project Mogul, a secret program of atmospheric balloons used to detect Soviet nuclear tests.

The alien body stories were explained as misidentifications of crash test dummies used in later military experiments.

At the SETI Institute in California, where scientists are involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, doubts persist about what happened at Roswell.

"In the beginning, they would've kept it secret because they were trying to determine if the Soviet Union had the H-bomb," said SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak. "But the public finds it much more interesting to think that aliens traveled hundreds of light years, and in the last couple of hundred feet, made a navigational error and slammed into the New Mexico desert. ... It's more interesting to think that the government has the aliens freeze-dried and stacked up somewhere."

The burden of proof is always the main issue when it comes to UFO stories. Anecdotal evidence doesn't hold up in the world of scientific scrutiny — without a piece of an actual spaceship or an alien's body, skepticism abounds.

A Celebration for Believers and Skeptics

One of the biggest problems with the Roswell scenario is that the pro-alien authors and researchers vehemently disagree with one another as to the actual timeline of events and eyewitness accounts.

But this weekend, all are welcome in Roswell as two separate festivals pay tribute to the events of 1947.

"We've got alien hot air balloon rides, an air show, a huge carnival and a number of bands playing music every day," said Roswell's Mayor Sam LaGrone. "We also have an alien chase, where people dress up in alien costumes for a 5k or 10k run/walk."

LaGrone wants the festivities he's presenting to bring believers and skeptics together for a fun, family-oriented experience. He also hopes for some good revenue for the city. "Our state lottery even created a special lottery ticket, called the Space Invaders," he said.

On the other side of town is the International UFO Museum and Research Center, co-founded in 1992 by Haut. His daughter, Julie Shuster, runs the museum now and offers a more serious group of international speakers this weekend, including Friedman and Marcel Jr.

Shuster thinks she knows why Roswell is the center of attention for UFOs.

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