In 1991 a near-earth object was discovered and named 1991 VG. It was originally thought to be a fast moving asteroid-type object. But as the object approached Earth, it exhibited strong and rapid brightness changes similar to reflections from a rotating spacecraft.
In addition, the object had an orbit very similar to Earth’s, which is unusual for objects in our solar system These facts suggested it was a spacecraft making a controlled pass by Earth.
Earth Rocket Returning Home?
Initial speculation was that it could be a rocket body from a satellite launched in the early 1970’s. Further study indicated that the orbit of 1991 VG did not match any known man-made spacecraft or rocket bodies.
Other theories postulated that it might be a manned alien spacecraft or even a Bracewell probe. A Bracewell probe is a robotic interstellar space probe with a high level of artificial intelligence programmed to seek out techological civilizations and make contact.
Bracewell probes have been featured in our fiction though we’ve not discovered one in reality.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Inner Light”
- Babylon 5 episode “A Day in the Strife”
- Arthur C. Clarke’s novel The Fountains of Paradise and also the story The Sentinel, later adapted into the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Monolith was a Bracewell probe.)
In the end, we don’t know exactly what 1991 VG really is. But it makes it’s next pass close to Earth in 2017. Perhaps we’ll find out then.
In my story, 1991 VG would be a disabled alien spacecraft. It has achieved a stable orbit in our solar system, but it is unable to change the orbit or return home due to ship problems. As it neared Earth in 1991, the aliens on board attempted to make contact with Earth for help, but were unsuccessful. In 2017, they try again and the reaction from Earth is not what they expected.