Space is often touted as the last frontier, the final wilderness that we have yet to tame or understand, and in many ways this is very true. We have only within the last century really begun to comprehend some of its secrets to any appreciable degree, and there are certainly wonders beyond our imagination for us yet to behold. Yet some mysteries that have been encountered out there in the cold dark of space go well beyond conventional understanding, to propel out into the world of the paranormal and the universe of the truly bizarre. Certainly ranking among these mysteries is a curious close encounter between some of the first people in space and, well, something else.
In April of 1982, the Soviet Union launched its ambitious Salyut 7 space station as part of the Soviet Salyut Programme, which started in 1971 and had the aim of eventually sending up a total of four crewed scientific research space stations and two crewed military reconnaissance space stations. The last to be launched in the program and a precursor to the Mir space station, the Salyut 7 was the 10th space station ever put into orbit by mankind, and was designed to serve as a sort of test of a new system of modular space stations, which entailed the ability to attach new modules to expand the station or adapt it to whatever functions were required, as well as an outpost for various off-planet experiments. The Salyut 7 would end up staying in orbit for a total of 8 years and 10 months, which up until that time was the longest such a station had ever remained in continuous orbit. It is also known for a very bizarre series of bizarre, unexplained events witnessed by the crew.
In July of 1984, the Salyut 7 was on the 155th day of its mission and things were going in a routine fashion until there was a sudden transmission from cosmonauts Commander Oleg Atkov, Vladmir Solovyov, and Leonid Kizim in which they claimed that the space station had suddenly been surrounded by an oppressive, blinding orange light. The crew of three aboard the Salyut 7 all then allegedly looked out of the portals to try and see what was causing this inexplicable brilliant glow. At this point they would witness probably the last thing they had expected to see out there.