The 13th Floor

EVENT HORIZON for Real? Black Hole Satellite Goes Missing, Then Mysteriously Returns

If you’re not familiar with the plot of 1997’s EVENT HORIZON, allow me to recap: the title spacecraft disappears after testing a new engine powered by a tiny black hole; when it returns seven years later, the entire crew is missing, their whereabouts unknown… until a rescue team decodes the captain’s horrifying final log entry:

That’s why this particular piece of space news is particularly chilling: the chain of events is uncomfortably similar.

Image Credit: Scott Porter/NASA
Image Credit: Scott Porter/NASA

On February 17, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hitomi satellite, which was designed to study deep space x-ray sources in an effort to learn the nature of black holes.

Image Credit: JAXA
Image Credit: JAXA

Then, on March 26, something went wrong: the ground crew lost contact with Hitomi.

A few days later, amateur astronomer Paul Maley located what he believed to be the craft and recorded it on video, which was posted Monday on National Geographic’s Phenomena Blog. The footage reveals Hitomi tumbling erratically, and apparently trailing debris.

The only replies to JAXA’s signals were brief transmission bursts which they described only as “cryptic,” and nothing which the team could use to determine the extent of the damage, or what knocked the craft from its original orbit.

JAXA reports that they did receive some scientifically significant data from Hitomi before losing contact, but that has yet to be revealed to the public.

Sure, it’s probably nothing more than an onboard malfunction… but what if it isn’t? What exactly were those transmissions?


“Libera tutemet ex inferis…”