Spy satellite

Spy satellite

A spy satellite (officially referred to as a reconnaissance satellite) is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications. The first generation type (i.e. Corona [ [http://www.nro.gov/corona/facts.html Corona page at NRO] ] [ [http://samadhi.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/Programs/corona.html Corona page at NASA] ] and Zenit) took photographs then ejected canisters of photographic film, which would descend to earth. Corona capsules were retrieved in mid-air as they floated down on parachutes. Later spacecraft had digital imaging systems and downloaded the images via encrypted radio links.

In the United States, most information available is on programs that existed up to 1972. Some information about programs prior to that time are still classified, and a small trickle of information is available on subsequent missions. A few up-to-date reconnaissance satellite images have been declassified on occasion, or leaked, as in the case of KH-11 photographs which were sent to "Jane's Defence Weekly" in 1985.


On March 16, 1955, the United States Air Force officially ordered the development of an advanced reconnaissance satellite to provide continuous surveillance of “preselected areas of the earth” in order “to determine the status of a potential enemy’s war-making capability.” [cite book | title = Into the Unknown Together - The DOD, NASA, and Early Spaceflight
last = Erickson | first = Mark | isbn = 1-58566-140-6 | url = http://aupress.au.af.mil/Books/Erickson/erickson.pdf
] In October 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik. It was the first man made object to be put into space.


Examples of reconnaissance satellite missions:
* High resolution photography (IMINT)
* Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT)
* Communications eavesdropping (SIGINT)
* Covert communications
* Monitoring of nuclear test ban compliance (see National Technical Means)
* Detection of missile launches


United States

*Naval ELINT:
**Naval Ocean Surveillance System
*Samos F
*Molniya SIGINT:
*Geosynchronous SIGINT:
* Air Force Geosynchronous SIGINT:
* Lacrosse/Onyx (RADINT)
* Misty/Zirconic
* Quasar
* Vela
* Key Hole (KH) series of imaging satellites:

(*) Although there is much speculation concerning imaging resolution, any optical system is limited by diffraction. For example, a satellite with a 4 m telescope at an orbit of 600 km has a diffraction limited resolution of 10 cm at 550nm (green light), so it certainly cannot read a license plate. Other effects such as an inhomogeneous atmosphere further degrade resolution. The apogee of a typical filming mission would have been close to 100 km (~62 miles). Using the above calculation the resolution would have been less than 2 cm (<1 inch).

oviet Union/Russia

* Cosmos
* RORSAT (under cover of Cosmos series) [ [http://www.astronautix.com/project/rorsat.htm Rorsat - Encyclopedia Astronautica] ] . Radar type powered by Topaz nuclear reactors.
* Almaz
* Yantar
* Zenit


* Fanhui Shi Weixing
** FSW-0
** FSW-1
** FSW-2
** FSW-3


* SAR-Lupe
** SAR-Lupe 1
** SAR-Lupe 2
** SAR-Lupe 3
** SAR-Lupe 4
** SAR-Lupe 5


* Helios 1B (destroyed), Helios 2A

United Kingdom

* Zircon (cancelled in 1987)


* Technology Experiment Satellite
* Cartosat 2A (Launched on April 28, 2008)


* Sinah-1
* Mesbah (ready for launch)


* Ofeq
* TecSAR


* COSMO-SkyMed


* Information Gathering Satellite


* EgyptSat 1 [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467733037&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull]
* EgyptSat 2 (planned)
* DesertSat (planned end of 2007)

outh Korea

* Arirang-2


* Türk Gölgesi
** Türk Gölgesi 1
** Türk Gölgesi 2
** Türk Gölgesi 3
** Other classified programs
** Gokturk-1 (Co-production planned with either Israel, US, Italy or Germany, 0.8m resolution, integration with National UAV's, Turkish Navy and Air Force)
** Gokturk-2 (2m resolution, production started at Turkish Aerospace Industries)

In fiction

Spy satellites are commonly seen in spy fiction and military fiction. Some works of fiction that focus specifically on spy satellites include:

* "The OMAC Project"
* "Enemy of the State (film)"
* "Ice Station Zebra"


ee also

* National Reconnaissance Office
* Defense Support Program
* European Union Satellite Centre
* Atmospheric reentry
* List of intelligence gathering disciplines

External links

* http://www.fas.org/irp/imint/
* [http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/realtime/jtrack/3d/JTrack3d.html Java 3D satellite tracker]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/imint.htm GlobalSecurity.org: Imagery Intelligence]
* [http://www.isracast.com/transcripts/230905b_trans.htm Iran to Launch first spy satellite]
* http://www.skyrocket.de/space/doc_sdat/egyptsat-1.htm
* http://www.spacetoday.org/Rockets/Spaceports/Iraq.html
* [http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/ Military Intelligence Satellites] (NASA, remote sensing tutorial)

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