Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/20/2012
02:41 PM
John Foley
John Foley
Slideshows
Connect Directly
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!
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32094
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Emissary 5.9.0 allows an authenticated user to upload arbitrary files.
CVE-2021-32095
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Emissary 5.9.0 allows an authenticated user to delete arbitrary files.
CVE-2021-32096
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
The ConsoleAction component of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Emissary 5.9.0 allows a CSRF attack that results in injecting arbitrary Ruby code (for an eval call) via the CONSOLE_COMMAND_STRING parameter.
CVE-2021-32098
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
Artica Pandora FMS 742 allows unauthenticated attackers to perform Phar deserialization.
CVE-2021-32099
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
A SQL injection vulnerability in the pandora_console component of Artica Pandora FMS 742 allows an unauthenticated attacker to upgrade his unprivileged session via the /include/chart_generator.php session_id parameter, leading to a login bypass.