RECONNAISSANCE

Satellites

Books

Jeffrey T. Richelson

Richelson, Jeffrey T. America's Secret Eyes in Space: The U.S. Keyhole Spy Satellite Program. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. America's Space Sentinels: DSP Satellites and National Security. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1999. America's Space Sentinels: The History of the DSP and SBIRS Satellite Systems. 2d ed. expanded. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2012.

From publisher: "For this new edition, Jeffrey Richelson covers significant developments during the last dozen years..., especially the struggles to develop and launch the follow-on Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), beginning in the late 1990s and continuing up to the present.... SBIRS, like its aging but still functioning predecessor, has been designed primarily to provide instant early warning of missile launches from around the globe ... through the infra-red sensors carried on each satellite. But the new system -- beset by hardware, software, fiscal, and political problems -- has only managed to move forward in fits and starts.

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 19-99 (14 May 1999), notes that the DSP (Defense Support Program) satellites "were a series of infrared sensors orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth" They "provided Cold War warning of missile firings -- and still play a role in monitoring missile programs of China, India, etc." In this book, the author "provides a first comprehensive history of the DSP program from the 1950's until the present ... in easy-reading prose. Highly recommended."

For Seamon, Proceedings 125.9 (Sep. 1999), this book seems over-loaded with acronyms, although a list of definitions is included. However, these are "only minor distractions from this scholarly history." Thompson, NWCR (Summer 2000), calls this "a thoroughly researched and comprehensive history of the development, fielding, operation, and evolution" of the DSP. Richelson also deals with present and future needs, arguing that "DSP is past being optimized and that a more capable system is needed, and soon."

Dino Brugioni, "Information from Above," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 13, no. 2 (Summer 2000), 236-242, provides an excellent brief history of the DSP. He notes that the author tells "the technical, substantive, and political story of a vital U.S. national defense effort." But, beyond that, Richelson "recognizes the sustained, dedicated, and, for so long, unheralded efforts" of those "who labored in the development of these satellites despite the frustrations of bickerings, budget battles, and service rivalries."

Richelson, Jeffrey T. United States Strategic Reconnaissance: Photographic/Imaging Satellites. ACIS Working Paper No. 38. Los Angeles: University of California, Center for International and Strategic Affairs, May 1983.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

Clark comment: This book is enormously informative about a major player in the development of U.S. intelligence from the 1960s into the 1990s. It is packed with details about the DS&T's many technical accomplishments (and some failures and misdirections), and it accurately portrays the long-standing and eventually losing bureaucratic struggle with the Defense Department for primacy in the development and operation of space-based reconnaissance. Although the DS&T was pushed organizationally to the sidelines in the 1990s, the manner in which it responded to President Eisenhower's trust and foresight in placing the development of CORONA (and follow-on systems) with the CIA is marvelously retold by the author. Although he certainly has not played down the bureaucratic and personal animosities involved over the years, Richelson either did not pick up or decided not to focus on the very real antagonisms between senior DS&T and NSA managers, which by the mid-1980s had a distinctly personal flavor. The Wizards of Langley is not light reading, but repays the effort with a wealth of information about and insight into a critical aspect of America's intelligence arsenal.

Although displeased by the author's excessive use of acronyms, Seamon, Proceedings 128.1 (Jan. 2002), still finds this to be "a thoroughly researched tale of political infighting, personal animosities, and interservice and interagency bickering." Still, the DS&T turned out many "impressive successes," and "[t]he variety of its failures also testifies to its unfettered energy."

Mazzafro, I&NS 17.3, also refers to Richelson's "acronym-laden story," but adds that this is "a well-documented though antiseptic narrative of Cold War history." The work provides "a compact history of how technology effected and affected the practice of intelligence in the last 50 years of the twentieth century, that serious students of both technology and intelligence will want to be familiar with." For Bath, NIPQ 18.2/3, this "book is timely, well organized, and shows impeccable scholarship." However, the reviewer found the author's "coverage of the bureaucratic history of CIA's Directorate of Science & Technology" to be somewhat heavy on detail.

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