The LES-1 was designed and built by the MIT to conduct experiments in satellite communication. It was launched on February 11th 1965, but failed to reach its intended orbit due to miswiring of the circuitry. The satellite remained tumbling in a circular orbit and ceased transmitting in 1967. In 2012, 47 years after its launch, a radio amateur from North Cornwall in England picked up a ghostly signal and that he later identified as the LES-1. Phil Williams G3YPQ suggested that the onboard batteries corroded causing a short circuit and therefore the transmitter on 237mHz to start up when the satellite's solar panels are in direct sunlight. As a result of the satellite’s peculiar motion, the signal that appears to be the transmitter’s carrier frequency, slowly fades in and out in a four-second cycle, like a singing ghost.
Listening to the signal for the first time is fascinating, an eerie signal from an early remnant of space exploration and communication that whispers from the ionosphere tumbling through space, slowly rising from the noise after nearly a half-a-century.
An event like this provides abundant material for conspiracy theorists. Many fake news websites and Youtube channels cover the satellite’s history and construct narratives around it. They all refer to a theory that claims that the satellite was hijacked by an alien lifeform. As with all fake news it is hard to track the original source of the theory, since it often no longer exists or is diluted in a network of fake news websites. Conspiracy theories, lurking within the realm of radio and electro magnetics is a topic that informs and enhances both the research and performance, providing material and narratives that weave into both the amateur community and the ghost hunters.