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
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
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!
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!
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-6477
Published: 2014-11-23
Unspecified vulnerability in the JPublisher component in Oracle Database Server 11.1.0.7, 11.2.0.3, 11.2.0.4, 12.1.0.1, and 12.1.0.2 allows remote authenticated users to affect confidentiality via unknown vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-4290, CVE-2014-4291, CVE-2014-4292, CVE-2014-4...

CVE-2014-4807
Published: 2014-11-22
Sterling Order Management in IBM Sterling Selling and Fulfillment Suite 9.3.0 before FP8 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (CPU consumption) via a '\0' character.

CVE-2014-6183
Published: 2014-11-22
IBM Security Network Protection 5.1 before 5.1.0.0 FP13, 5.1.1 before 5.1.1.0 FP8, 5.1.2 before 5.1.2.0 FP9, 5.1.2.1 before FP5, 5.2 before 5.2.0.0 FP5, and 5.3 before 5.3.0.0 FP1 on XGS devices allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-8626
Published: 2014-11-22
Stack-based buffer overflow in the date_from_ISO8601 function in ext/xmlrpc/libxmlrpc/xmlrpc.c in PHP before 5.2.7 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code by including a timezone field in a date, leading to improper XML-RPC encoding...

CVE-2014-8710
Published: 2014-11-22
The decompress_sigcomp_message function in epan/sigcomp-udvm.c in the SigComp UDVM dissector in Wireshark 1.10.x before 1.10.11 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (buffer over-read and application crash) via a crafted packet.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?