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The Legend of the Space Aliens

artwork by asaf hanuka

The Legend: During and after World War II, rumors abounded about the building that housed USC’s human centrifuge – which was built to test the effects of weightlessness, first on monkeys and then on humans, in simulated space. In particular, it was said that the facility contained space aliens.

The Skinny: It’s not surprising that a certain air of mystery surrounded USC’s human centrifuge. For many years, USC was the only university to house such an instrument. It was installed in 1943 and used in the development of the G-suit to prevent pilot blackout during World War II, as well as in research related to the first U.S. space missions. Several important discoveries emanated from the centrifuge, including the development of a partial-pressure suit for emergency extreme-altitude protection and a blood-pressure recording device for continuous monitoring of test subjects. About any testing on extraterrestrials, however, the scientists remain mum.

The Legend of the Space Aliens

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