Risk
6/20/2012
02:41 PM
John Foley
John Foley
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Secret Spy Satellite Takes Off: Stunning Images

The National Reconnaissance Office provides satellite imagery for intelligence operations and national defense. Here's a look at the agency's most recent rocket launches.
Previous
1 of 15
Next


The U.S. government's newest spy satellite launched Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the second of four launches planned this year by the National Reconnaissance Office. NRO called the launch "flawless."

The NRO, which serves the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community, hasn't actually acknowledged that a satellite is on board the Atlas V rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The partners refer only to the mission's "national security payload."

The launch of NROL-38 (the current mission number) had been scheduled for June 16 but was scrubbed at the launch pad when a problem with the rocket's environment control system duct was discovered. The rescheduled launch, pictured here, went without a hitch at 8:28 a.m. at Cape Canaveral.

On April 3, the NRO launched another intelligence payload aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Two more missions are slated for the next six weeks. Last year, the NRO funded six launches.

The NRO provides satellite imagery to the DOD and U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as to the departments of State and Justice and other civilian agencies. According to Congressional testimony in March by Betty Sapp, principal deputy director of the NRO, the agency last year provided intelligence that aided in the killing or capture of "high-value targets" in more than a dozen operations and supported counterterrorism and anti-piracy efforts, among other scenarios. Its images are also used by scientists to study the environment, oil spills, and natural disasters.

The agency's next mission, NROL-15, is designed to carry a bigger payload than NROL-38. It will be hoisted by a Delta IV rocket, which United Launch Alliance co-developed with the Air Force, in a "heavy configuration" for payloads of up to 25 tons. NROL-15 is scheduled to launch June 28 from Cape Canaveral.

United Launch Alliance, formed in 2005, provides rockets and launch services to other government customers, as well. Over the past 12 months, it has sent rockets aloft for the Air Force, Navy, and NASA.

The Lockheed-Boeing partnership is getting into the commercial space transportation business as well. In April, it announced the formation of a Human Launch Services Organization, which has a mandate of carrying astronauts into low-Earth orbit and deeper into space.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the NRO, and details of the agency's secretive operations have gradually emerged. Last week, the agency released a previously top secret report on the nineteen-year history of its earliest satellite system, the so-called Poppy system. That program concluded in 1977.

Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

Previous
1 of 15
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2012 | 11:07:34 AM
re: Secret Spy Satellite Takes Off: Stunning Images
I guess it's a not-so-secret spy satellite!
Leo Regulus
50%
50%
Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/22/2012 | 7:45:23 PM
re: Secret Spy Satellite Takes Off: Stunning Images
Please, I need a standard article format, or, at worst, a .pdf for this. Please Help!
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2004-2771
Published: 2014-12-24
The expand function in fio.c in Heirloom mailx 12.5 and earlier and BSD mailx 8.1.2 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in an email address.

CVE-2014-3569
Published: 2014-12-24
The ssl23_get_client_hello function in s23_srvr.c in OpenSSL 1.0.1j does not properly handle attempts to use unsupported protocols, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and daemon crash) via an unexpected handshake, as demonstrated by an SSLv3 handshak...

CVE-2014-4322
Published: 2014-12-24
drivers/misc/qseecom.c in the QSEECOM driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not validate certain offset, length, and base values within an ioctl call, which allows attackers to gain privileges or c...

CVE-2014-6132
Published: 2014-12-24
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Web UI in IBM WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR) 6.3 through 6.3.0.5, 7.0.x through 7.0.0.5, 7.5.x through 7.5.0.4, 8.0.x before 8.0.0.3, and 8.5.x before 8.5.0.1 allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML vi...

CVE-2014-6153
Published: 2014-12-24
The Web UI in IBM WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR) 6.3.x through 6.3.0.5, 7.0.x through 7.0.0.5, 7.5.x through 7.5.0.4, 8.0.x before 8.0.0.3, and 8.5.x before 8.5.0.1 does not set the secure flag for a cookie in an https session, which makes it easier for remote attackers to capture ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.