RECONNAISSANCE

Satellites

Articles

2005 - 2007

Materials arranged chronologically.

David, Leonard. "Spy Satellite Debate Comes Out in the Open: Senate Spat Brings New Attention to Stealth Programs." MSNBC.com, 3 Jan. 2005. [http://msnbc.msn.com]

This is a useful background piece for anyone unfamiliar with U.S. reconnaissance satellite programs.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Satellite in the Shadows." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 61, no. 3 (May-Jun. 2005): 26-33.

Pincus, Walter. "Spy Satellites Are Under Scrutiny: Negroponte to Advise Congress on Funding New Systems." Washington Post, 16 Aug. 2005, A11. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to congressional and administration sources, DNI John D. Negroponte "is reviewing two multibillion-dollar spy satellite programs,... and will make recommendations on their future to House and Senate intelligence committees" in September 2005. Sources said that one of the systems under scrutiny "is a classified program to build the next generation of stealth satellites." The other program receiving attention "is the new generation of non-stealth space vehicles -- using optical, radar, listening and infrared-red capabilities -- known collectively as the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA)."

U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. Office of Corporate Communications. "POPPY Program Fact Sheet." Washington, DC: 12 Sep. 2005. [http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/poppy.pdf]

On 12 September 2005, the POPPY electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite system was declassified. The satellite was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory in 1962. Its "mission was to collect radar emissions from Soviet naval vessels." There were seven POPPY satellites placed in space from 1962 to 1971.

Jehl, Douglas. "Review Leads to Upheaval in Spy Satellite Programs." New York Times, 30 Sep. 2005. [http://www.nytimes.com]

A review by DNI John D. Negroponte "is stirring a major upheaval within the country's spy satellite programs." In an announcement last week, the NRO said "that a Boeing Company contract to provide the next generation of reconnaissance satellites, known as the Future Imagery Architecture, was being 'restructured.'" However, according to officials and experts, Negroponte has "ordered that Boeing stop work on a significant part of the project ... under a plan to shift the mission to Lockheed Martin." The part of the program that involves radar-surveillance satellites "would remain with Boeing.... [I]t is not clear whether the proposal goes far enough to answer Congressional demands for deep cuts in spending on reconnaissance satellite programs."

Barker, Edward L. [CAPT/USNR (Ret.)] "POPPY Reconnaissance Satellite Program." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 22, no. 2 (Apr. 2006): 23.

POPPY was the successor to GRAB, the first U.S. ELINT satellite. POPPY first flew in 1962 and the last of seven launches was in 1971. The satellite was developed by Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and after formation of the NRO, was a component of Program C.

Tomme, Edward B. [LTCOL/USAF (Ret.)] "The Myth of the Tactical Satellite." Air & Space Power Journal 20, no. 2 (Summer 2006). [http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil]

"A combination of physical constraints placed on satellites by orbital mechanics and operational requirements placed on their payloads by the missions that can be performed from space prevents all but the most rudimentary tactical missions from being attainable for the foreseeable future. Even if these missions can be performed from space, they will end up costing hundreds of thousands to several million dollars per hour overhead.... Continued funding of the tactical satellite program under the misguided notion that such satellites can provide tactical effects on the ground only serves to drain scarce budgetary resources from other programs that can provide the desired effects."

Guerriero, A&SPJ 21.2 (Summer 2007), suggests that "[w]e should not dismiss the value of tactical satellites. They can fill an important role as complements to other existing constellations and assets while providing a level of responsiveness to theater commanders not available from strategic systems."

Tomme, A&SPJ 21.2 (Summer 2007), responds that "we must definitely look to space when it offers the most effective way to accomplish the mission. Without a doubt, a mission requiring global coverage or even overflight of denied territory beyond the range of airborne or near-space sensors plays to the strength of space.... However..., given the existence of so many more effective ways to support our tactical warriors..., it appears that promoting the theory of 'space because we can' is an unaffordable, unresponsive, ineffective, and ill-advised course of action."

Gertz, Bill. "Senate Seeks Intelligence Hub to Shield Satellites." Washington Times, 6 Feb. 2007. [http://www.washingtontimes.com]

"A provision of the Senate intelligence authorization bill for fiscal 2007 would require the Bush administration" to create "a new National Space Intelligence Center to better spy on space-based and other threats to U.S. military, intelligence and commercial satellites." The new center would be part of the Office of the DNI.

Shrader, Katherine. "Spy Chief Scraps Satellite Program." Associated Press, 21 Jun. 2007. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

DNI Mike McConnell has scrapped a multibillion-dollar imaging satellite program to produce a stealth spacecraft capable of taking pictures from space while avoiding detection. The move "comes after several years of congressional efforts to kill the program, known publicly as the next generation of 'Misty' satellites."

For additional information on the "Misty" satellite, see Charles P. Vick, "MISTY/ FP-731, Follow-on ADVANCED CRYSTAL: The Stealth Reconnaissance Imaging Spacecraft," GlobalSecurity.org, 26 Apr. 2007. [http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/afp-731.htm]

Vick, Charles P. "MISTY/FP-731, Follow-on ADVANCED CRYSTAL: The Stealth Reconnaissance Imaging Spacecraft," GlobalSecurity.org, 21 Jun. 2007. [http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/afp-731.htm]

This article contains a wealth of information about the "MISTY low observables spacecraft program."

Block, Robert. "U.S. to Expand Domestic Use of Spy Satellites." Wall Street Journal, 15 Aug. 2007, A1. [http://online.wsj.com]

A May 2007 decision by DNI Michael McConnell "greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information" from U.S. spy satellites. A memo to Secretary Michael Chertoff asked DHS "to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement." DHS chief intelligence officer Charles Allen "will be in charge of the new program."

Taubman, Philip. "Failure to Launch: In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic Bids." New York Tmes, 11 Nov. 2007. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The collapse of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) project in September 2005, "at a loss of at least $4 billion, was all but inevitable." It was "the result of a troubled partnership between a government seeking to maintain the supremacy of its intelligence technology, but on a constrained budget, and a contractor [Boeing] all too willing to make promises it ultimately could not keep." Combined with other recent failures, this has left "the nation ... without advanced new systems to replace a dwindling number of reconnaissance satellites first designed in the 1970s and updated in the 1990s."

Flaherty, Anne, and Pamela Hess. "US Plans New Spy Satellite Program." Associated Press, 1 Dec. 2007. [http://www.associatedpress.com]

The United States is pursuing a $2-$4 billion program to develop a new photo reconnaissance satellite system. The system, known as BASIC, is "the first major effort of its kind since the Pentagon canceled the ambitious and costly Future Imagery Architecture [FIA] system" in 2005. The new system "would be launched by 2011."

Pasztor, Andy. "Spy Agencies Outdo Air Force In Getting Satellite Funding." Wall Street Journal, 7 Dec. 2007. [http://online.wsj.com]

"U.S. intelligence agencies are quietly spending about $7.5 billion to build a pair of older-technology spy satellites, people familiar with the matter said, at a time when more-technically-advanced military satellite projects are faltering because of budget cuts.... The Air Force has had difficulty moving advanced projects, and the new spending highlights how control of such projects is moving away from the Air Force and toward intelligence officials."

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