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Room 101


Alternative 3 and the Secret Space Program

In this edition of Room 101, we are venturing to a place where conspiracy theory, UFOs and cult sci-fi meet and merge into one. We are going to discuss Alternative 3, the controversial 1977 spoof documentary that caused uproar in the UK when it was first broadcast.

Originally shown as part of the Science Report documentary series, the spoof suggested an incredible link between Great Britain's "brain drain" of disappearing experts leaving the UK for the US, climate change and a secret space program. The Orson Welles, War of the Worlds, style hoax was so convincing that it actually managed to fool many of the millions that saw it originally into thinking that the world was about to end.

Perhaps the major reason why so many Bretons were fooled by the hoax was because it retained the Science Report format and even went as far as keeping the same presenter. However, as we will discuss later, perhaps there were other reasons why so many people were taken in by Alternative 3.

Beginning as a documentary about Great Britain's then contemporary "brain drain," Alternative 3 soon evolves into an investigation into the mysterious disappearances of a number of different space experts. The research presented over the course of the programme leads to the fantastic hypothesis that the missing experts have been taken off world as part of some secret American/Soviet space program. Further, it is suggested that space travel is far more advanced and has been a reality for much longer than most people believe. The programme even featured a fictional Apollo astronaut, who claimed to have stumbled upon a mysterious Lunar base during his moonwalk.

It is claimed on the programme that scientists had determined that the Earth's surface would soon become uninhabitable, due to pollution causing catastrophic climate change, and that three Alternatives to this problem were suggested. The first two Alternatives were considered too crazy to work and were quickly abandoned. Leaving only the third Alternative, the "Alternative 3" of the title, to colonise Mars via a base on the Moon.

Alternative 3 ends with a video of an alleged manned landing on Mars in 1962, seven years before Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon. The video even goes as far as showing something moving beneath the Martian soil, strongly suggesting the presence of life on the red planet.

So how much of Alternative 3 is true and how much is fiction?

Alternative 3 is clearly a fake documentary, the fictitious astronaut makes that obvious. However, the writers do seem to have stumbled upon something in Alternative 3. Themes such as climate change and even the possibility of space settlement have been getting a lot more attention in recent years.

In 2004, President Bush unveiled a new vision for the US space program. He proposed an ambitious plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and use the Moon, like in Alternative 3, as a steppingstone for future manned missions to Mars and beyond. Then, in 2006 Nasa announced plans to build a solar-powered outpost at one the Moon's poles, expected to be permanently staffed by 2024.

More recently, Stephen Hawking called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars in a lecture to mark NASA's 50th anniversary. Hawking argued that the world should devote about 10 times as much as NASA's current budget to space.

The renowned physicist had previously spoken in favour of colonising space, just like in Alternative 3, as an insurance policy against the possibility of humanity being wiped out by catastrophic climate change: "Life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming... I therefore want to encourage public interest in space."

Also, in The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin made a strong case for his Mars Direct plan for a manned mission to Mars using only current technology. The ultimate goal being the eventual colonisation and even terraforming of Mars.

It is clear then that Moon bases and Mars colonies, much like the ones alleged to secretly exist in Alternative 3, could well become a reality in the near future. However, what about now, is there any suggestion that there could be a secret space program of any kind?

The answer is an astonishing yes.

Most BoA: Audio listeners are probably already familiar with Gary McKinnon, the famous UFO computer hacker that was arrested for allegedly hacking into NASA and the US military computer networks. McKinnon claims that he spent two years looking for evidence of UFOs and suppressed free energy technology. During which, he says that he found a list of officers' names under the mysterious heading "Non-Terrestrial Officers," as well as a list of "fleet-to-fleet transfers" and ship names.

Further, McKinnon claims he checked the ship names and discovered that they defiantly weren't US Navy ships. Leading him to suspect that the US have some kind of secret space program: "What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-planet."

Interestingly, McKinnon also says he saw pictures of what looked like cigar-shaped UFOs on a NASA computer. Perhaps these and other NASA UFOs could be part of such a secret space program. With the Pentagon missing $2.3 trillion in transactions (according to Donald Rumsfeld), almost anything becomes feasible.

However there is much harder evidence than this of a secret US space program. On August 7, 1989, a very interesting article called Pentagon Leaves the Shuttle Program appeared in The New York Times. Amazingly, the article openly discussed the existence of a secret US military astronaut program in the late 1970s and 1980s: "In 1979, the Air Force Space Division in Los Angeles founded the Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program, an elite corps of military astronauts that was to specialize in deploying top-secret payloads. Mr. Cassutt said corps members were told they would fly in space at least once. The secret program, he added, eventually trained 32 engineers and had an annual budget of about $4 million." Admittedly this is no where near the scale of the scenario in Alternative 3, but it is real, a little glimpse into the secret space program.

Many people look at the night's sky and wonder whether mankind will ever reach the stars, perhaps we're a lot closer than we might think.

Richard Thomas, BoA UK Correspondent and Columnist.

Contact Richard :: boxstacker(at)aol.com


  • Alternative 3 (Anglia Television, 1977)
  • Robert Zubrin, The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (Pocket Books, 1998)
  • Bush unveils vision for moon and beyond (CNN)
  • Moon Base Announced by NASA (National Geographic)
  • Stephen Hawking calls for Moon and Mars colonies (NewScientist)
  • Stephen Hawking publicises space travel with zero-g flight (NewScientist)
  • Hacker fears 'UFO cover-up' (BBC)
  • John Ronson meets Gary McKinnon (UK Guardian)
  • Pentagon Leaves the Shuttle Program (NY Times)
  • Defense Department Cannot Account For 25% Of Funds $2.3 Trillion (CBS News)