What is Area 51 used for?

There have been rumors about the mysterious "Area 51" in the Nevada desert for decades - now the US secret service CIA has officially confirmed the existence of the area. Now released documents also contain a map showing the location of the military exclusion zone, reports the broadcaster CNN.

To the disappointment of conspiracy theorists, however, it does not mention aliens or UFOs, autopsy rooms for aliens or storage areas for spaceships. In any case, the documents show that "Area 51" was used for rather unspectacular purposes.

The location about 200 kilometers northwest of the casino metropolis Las Vegas is just a test site for the spy planes U-2 and Oxcart which were used at the time of the Cold War, among other things, over the Soviet Union. The documents had been released at the request of researcher Jeffrey T. Richelson by the National Security Archives at George Washington University, it said.

Conspiracy theorists are convinced that "Area 51" houses the remains of aliens that were recovered after the crash of a UFO in 1947 near the small US town of Roswell. Many books and films took up the topic, including Roland Emmerich's "Independence Day" from 1996.

Another theory suggests that the remains found in 1947 belonged to a newly developed long-range reconnaissance balloon, the existence of which was strictly kept secret during the Cold War.

"Area 51" has been referred to in previous government documents. But according to CNN, the current release is the first to officially confirm both the existence of the site and its location.

© Süddeutsche.de / dpa / gal / sekr