The secret Soviet X-files investigation came to be known in government circles as The Network, and was the largest official investigation into the UFO phenomenon ever conducted. For 13 years, The Network was tasked not with the simple collection of UFO reports — this was left to amateurs — but with understanding them scientifically.
The man tapped to lead the project was a young astrophysicist named Yuly Platov. Now in his 80s, Platov told The Moscow Times that he found out about the project in conversation with the head of his institute. He realized it would be an opportunity to flex his scientific muscles, and so pressed his boss to be given the chance to take part. A few days later he was contacted, quite unexpectedly, and put in charge of the entire project.
Initially the work was top secret. “Maybe we would really find aliens or maybe our findings would have military applications,” Platov says. “It wasn’t clear at the start what we might find.”
The Network was made up of 20 organizations staffed by specialists in physics, chemistry, optics and spectroscopy. “So many people from different professions had to be united,” Platov says. “I was the one who had to unite them, and that was difficult, especially for someone like me.” […]