Author Topic: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s  (Read 28803 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« on: 05/16/2016 10:37 PM »
http://thespacereview.com/article/2985/1

That’ll do, DONKEY, that’ll do

by Dwayne Day
Monday, May 16, 2016


When the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program started in late 1963, it was going to be an incredibly complex machine: both a human space station and a collection of military experiments and equipment for performing an operational intelligence collection mission. The centerpiece of MOL was going to be a large optics system for conducting photoreconnaissance, code-named DORIAN. But MOL would also operate other intelligence equipment, including a signals intelligence system. Over the next several years, as MOL moved from concepts and studies to becoming blueprints and designs, its managers began to realize how complicated it was and sought to simplify and streamline the spacecraft. In 1965, they decided to eliminate a communications intelligence collection payload called DONKEY. But although the mule might have taken a kick, it didn’t roll over. DONKEY still found a way to fly, the only MOL system that did.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #1 on: 05/16/2016 10:38 PM »
I'll be writing more articles on American sigint satellites in the next few months. More on the Agena ferrets, AFTRACK, as well as the P-11 subsats.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #2 on: 05/16/2016 11:59 PM »
Interesting that that extra fairing part extended down past the regular payload shroud to the side of a portion of Agena itself.  It seems to have extended over the Agena forward section, which housed guidance and other equipment.  Perhaps DONKEY had systems mounted in the equipment racks available in that area.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #3 on: 05/17/2016 12:13 AM »
I suspect that it may also have had to do with clearance issues--they mounted it on the side in order to fold out the dish far enough. I need to get a photo of the actual payload without fairing, but this thing was packed with antennas--four that folded out, plus probably up to four others on the front.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #4 on: 05/17/2016 01:17 AM »
Good read. Sounds like an ideal system to boost to a molniya orbit.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #5 on: 05/17/2016 01:47 AM »
Good read. Sounds like an ideal system to boost to a molniya orbit.

I think this ended up as part of the CANYON mission. If I remember correctly, CANYON had a slightly inclined orbit that allowed it to slowly move in and out of the line of sight of microwave transmitters and suck up their signals.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #6 on: 05/17/2016 03:42 AM »
If it was working off the side lobes, it might have needed to change geometry a little to pick up different microwave relays. While they radiate out the side lobes, there are null locations that radiate nothing. No one position would have been perfect for every tower.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #7 on: 05/17/2016 08:31 AM »
Good read. Sounds like an ideal system to boost to a molniya orbit.

I think this ended up as part of the CANYON mission. If I remember correctly, CANYON had a slightly inclined orbit that allowed it to slowly move in and out of the line of sight of microwave transmitters and suck up their signals.

Curious that the name CANYON is still classified long after optical reconnaissance payloads that are far newer have been fully declassified.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #8 on: 05/17/2016 09:55 AM »
Good read. Sounds like an ideal system to boost to a molniya orbit.

I think this ended up as part of the CANYON mission. If I remember correctly, CANYON had a slightly inclined orbit that allowed it to slowly move in and out of the line of sight of microwave transmitters and suck up their signals.

Curious that the name CANYON is still classified long after optical reconnaissance payloads that are far newer have been fully declassified.

Not really if you consider their policy. They have treated the sigint stuff more seriously than the photo stuff. For instance, they declassified Corona in 1995 and GRAB in 1998, but even after declassifying GRAB, they only released minimal information on it. They have treated high altitude sigint as more sensitive than low altitude sigint.

And for all of this stuff their general rule of thumb seems to be that they won't even consider declassifying a program until at least 25 years after the program ceased producing data. The last CANYON as launched in 1977. If it operated for 10 years they would not even have started considering declassifying it until 2013.

Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #9 on: 05/17/2016 01:28 PM »
Good read. Sounds like an ideal system to boost to a molniya orbit.

I think this ended up as part of the CANYON mission. If I remember correctly, CANYON had a slightly inclined orbit that allowed it to slowly move in and out of the line of sight of microwave transmitters and suck up their signals.

Curious that the name CANYON is still classified long after optical reconnaissance payloads that are far newer have been fully declassified.

Not really if you consider their policy. They have treated the sigint stuff more seriously than the photo stuff. For instance, they declassified Corona in 1995 and GRAB in 1998, but even after declassifying GRAB, they only released minimal information on it. They have treated high altitude sigint as more sensitive than low altitude sigint.

And for all of this stuff their general rule of thumb seems to be that they won't even consider declassifying a program until at least 25 years after the program ceased producing data. The last CANYON as launched in 1977. If it operated for 10 years they would not even have started considering declassifying it until 2013.

Very interesting. I've seen you quote that 25 year rule before, but there does seem to be some flexibility in it as little bits and pieces have started appearing about the KH-11 in recent years and that's still in use.

I honestly thought by now we might have heard a bit about the first generation NOSS satellites and the earlier LACROSSE. I wonder where radar reconnaissance falls in the general scheme of things on classification as like optical reconnaissance you do see civilian equivalents with radar earth resources satellites.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #10 on: 05/17/2016 01:42 PM »
I wonder where radar reconnaissance falls in the general scheme of things on classification as like optical reconnaissance you do see civilian equivalents with radar earth resources satellites.

Look at QUILL--flown once in 1964, but they did not declassify it until 2014.


Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #11 on: 05/17/2016 02:24 PM »
I would argue that understanding what optical satellites do is pretty straight forward. SIGINT is not, and the reason they are dragging feet as much as possible is telling how they work lets people understand and counter it. You kind of know if something can or can not be seen from space and if you should or could hide it ... but if you don't know something is emitting critical data, you can not mask it.

For instance in the case of DONKEY, you have to be pretty sophisticated to understand a Rose plot and realize that a point to point antenna like that is actually exploitable from space.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #12 on: 05/17/2016 05:06 PM »
I would argue that understanding what optical satellites do is pretty straight forward. SIGINT is not, and the reason they are dragging feet as much as possible is telling how they work lets people understand and counter it. You kind of know if something can or can not be seen from space and if you should or could hide it ... but if you don't know something is emitting critical data, you can not mask it.

For instance in the case of DONKEY, you have to be pretty sophisticated to understand a Rose plot and realize that a point to point antenna like that is actually exploitable from space.

Would you say your explanation is also applicable to radar reconnaissance as well?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #13 on: 05/17/2016 06:32 PM »
Would you say your explanation is also applicable to radar reconnaissance as well?
Who knows. RADAR comes in so many forms.

Remember one of the arguments against QUILL was you where no longer passively attempting to acquire information. Pointing a RADAR beam at someone can be construed as an aggressive act. It also tells someone on the ground that you are interested in them. Passive systems, like optical and SIGINT do not give themselves away like that. You have to assume if the satellite is in the sky, it is looking at you. 

Here is a fun one, old analog systems swept a beam across the target (unless they locked on to it) at regular intervals. The AESA beam can be randomly pointed at different locations in it's field of view at any point in time. That means instead of getting a repeating blip at a set interval you can query an object of interest at random intervals with just enough power to return the information you desire while steering the beam away from areas that you do not want it to query. AKA a stealthy sweep, that may not be picked up, or just ignored as spurious noise... It was one of the things talked about in some of the av week articles on the "RQ-180", what ever that really is.
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Offline Star One

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #14 on: 05/17/2016 08:06 PM »
Would you say your explanation is also applicable to radar reconnaissance as well?
Who knows. RADAR comes in so many forms.

Remember one of the arguments against QUILL was you where no longer passively attempting to acquire information. Pointing a RADAR beam at someone can be construed as an aggressive act. It also tells someone on the ground that you are interested in them. Passive systems, like optical and SIGINT do not give themselves away like that. You have to assume if the satellite is in the sky, it is looking at you. 

Here is a fun one, old analog systems swept a beam across the target (unless they locked on to it) at regular intervals. The AESA beam can be randomly pointed at different locations in it's field of view at any point in time. That means instead of getting a repeating blip at a set interval you can query an object of interest at random intervals with just enough power to return the information you desire while steering the beam away from areas that you do not want it to query. AKA a stealthy sweep, that may not be picked up, or just ignored as spurious noise... It was one of the things talked about in some of the av week articles on the "RQ-180", what ever that really is.

That's interesting.

Did you also see the speculation about LACROSSE 5 when that bizarre business (I say this because it's not generally the done thing to publish photos of each other's spy satellites) of a Russian observatory having pictures of them that appeared online and it turned out it had a different shaped main antenna compared to the others in the series?
« Last Edit: 05/17/2016 08:09 PM by Star One »

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #15 on: 05/17/2016 08:14 PM »
What was so special about the antenna shape?

Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #16 on: 05/17/2016 08:25 PM »
What was so special about the antenna shape?

The others were round it wasn't.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #17 on: 05/17/2016 08:26 PM »
Earlier versions where a round dish, the newer model was a flat rectangular plate. AKA some sort of phased array antennae.

Edit: Source; http://aero.tamu.edu/sites/default/files/images/Alfriend/S4%203%20Aleshin.pdf
« Last Edit: 05/17/2016 08:31 PM by kevin-rf »
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Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #18 on: 05/17/2016 08:28 PM »
Earlier versions where a round dish, the newer model was a flat rectangular plate. AKA some sort of phased array antennae.

I wonder if that accounts for its so called disappearing trick that satellite observers have noticed over the years.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #19 on: 05/17/2016 08:32 PM »
I wonder if that accounts for its so called disappearing trick that satellite observers have noticed over the years.
Nah, must be aliens ;)
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Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #20 on: 05/17/2016 08:37 PM »
Interesting. It seems to me that most civilian high-resolution satellites use flat antennas too. If I recall my SAR lessons correctly, it's because antennas that are short in one direction have a higher resolution when doing SAR.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #21 on: 05/17/2016 08:56 PM »
Like SeaSat...
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #22 on: 05/17/2016 09:18 PM »
That SeaSat image is similar to the Agena signals intelligence satellites like MULTIGROUP and STRAWMAN. Pointed down, antennas sticking out the front.


Offline plutogno

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #23 on: 05/18/2016 11:09 AM »
minor correction to Blackstar's article

Quote
The Agena was an all-around workhorse that served both as the second stage for Thor and Agena rockets

you surely meant Thor and Atlas

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #24 on: 05/18/2016 01:40 PM »
I would have loved to see a two stage Agena!
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #25 on: 05/18/2016 08:53 PM »
minor correction to Blackstar's article

Quote
The Agena was an all-around workhorse that served both as the second stage for Thor and Agena rockets

you surely meant Thor and Atlas

Brain glitch.

Fixed now. Thanks.

Even after looking at it over five times, I missed that.
Don't forget Titan!  Titan 3B/Agena. 

Maybe a Star motor has flown on top of three different launch vehicles, but I can't think of a liquid stage that pulled the trick except Agena.

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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #26 on: 05/18/2016 09:08 PM »
Centaur came very close... Well if you count Atlas V as a different vehicle, then three, almost four.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #27 on: 05/18/2016 09:27 PM »
Centaur came very close... Well if you count Atlas V as a different vehicle, then three, almost four.
Good point.  Balloon tank Atlas.  Solid-boosted Titan.  Common Core Booster Atlas.  That's three basic launch vehicle types.  Vulcan-Centaur will be Number Four, beating Agena's record. 

I was working at KSC when they brought the first Shuttle Centaur into the VPF.  We nearly flew that one.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/18/2016 09:28 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #28 on: 05/18/2016 09:51 PM »
Don't forget Titan!  Titan 3B/Agena. 

Maybe a Star motor has flown on top of three different launch vehicles, but I can't think of a liquid stage that pulled the trick except Agena.

I was not trying to be exhaustive.

But Agena was a real workhorse--not only upper stage, but provided power, stabilization and other support for a LOT of different payloads. The information released on the Agena signals intelligence satellites is not very exhaustive, but does indicate that they used gravity gradient stabilization. The Agena pitched over and then stayed that way without any active input. However, later on they discovered that the satellites were nodding slightly, affected by the Earth's magnetic field. It is possible that they had been doing this all along, but the payload accuracy was not high enough for it to show up in the telemetry at first. They corrected the problem with magnets.

Magnets: there's nothing they can't do.
« Last Edit: 05/18/2016 09:51 PM by Blackstar »

Offline PDJennings

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #29 on: 05/18/2016 09:57 PM »

Maybe a Star motor has flown on top of three different launch vehicles, but I can't think of a liquid stage that pulled the trick except Agena.

 - Ed Kyle

Block D

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #30 on: 06/20/2016 10:44 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3011/1

The wizard war in orbit (part 1)
Early American signals intelligence satellites

by Dwayne Day
Monday, June 20, 2016


Tales of espionage are filled with lanky men in trenchcoats walking through cold Berlin streets at the height of the Cold War. But the most important intelligence—in terms of volume and reliability—was gathered by reconnaissance satellites far overhead. These satellites were precise, they collected vast amounts of information, and unlike spies, they did not forget, embellish, lie, or go rogue. Photographic reconnaissance satellites like CORONA, GAMBIT, HEXAGON, and KENNEN were in many ways the most prolific spooks. But they were also accompanied by other satellites, signals intelligence, or SIGINT, satellites that listened for the electronic whispers of radars and radios, engaged in a high-tech war of electrons against an enemy that could vanish and emerge at will.

During the Cold War the United States intelligence community gathered signals intelligence from the Soviet Union via a variety of means. These included ground stations, cable-tapping and bugging operations, airborne platforms such as the RC-135 Rivet Joint and RB-47 Stratojet, and signals intelligence satellites. Any history of SIGINT satellite operations during the Cold War is going to be limited in scope because much of the story remains classified, and unlike the reconnaissance photographs, signals intelligence is an arcane and esoteric subject.

In 1998, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which develops and operates intelligence satellites, declassified the first signals intelligence satellite named GRAB, which was launched in April 1960. GRAB was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NSL) in Washington, DC, and part of the NRL was later subsumed as a component of the super-secret NRO. In 2007 the NRO declassified the follow-on to GRAB, named POPPY. But both of these declassification actions were limited, leaving out many major details such as the appearance of some of the satellites, the variety and types of signals they collected, and even how long they operated. The NRO released further details in dribs and drabs over the next several years, but GRAB and POPPY operations remained shrouded in a certain amount of mystery and confusion. But while the GRAB and POPPY revelations were significant, the reality was that they represented only a small part of the story. Throughout the 1960s the NRO operated many other SIGINT satellites and platforms, most developed by the US Air Force, and these remained shrouded in secrecy. Until now.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #31 on: 06/21/2016 05:45 PM »
I really enjoyed the article. Thanks
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Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #32 on: 06/21/2016 05:46 PM »
Was a good one. Thanks Blackstar.

Offline gwiz

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #33 on: 06/21/2016 05:52 PM »
Ditto, looking forward to the rest of the series.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #34 on: 06/21/2016 06:01 PM »
I think I'm most looking forward to part five ;)
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Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #35 on: 06/21/2016 06:40 PM »
I still keep hoping they'll declassify something about the first generation of NOSS satellites as they are something of an enigma.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #36 on: 06/21/2016 07:26 PM »
I still keep hoping they'll declassify something about the first generation of NOSS satellites as they are something of an enigma.

I have more info leading into their development and what they were trying to do.

I'm much more interested in JUMPSEAT. I have info on that, but I'd really like to get the detailed story.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #37 on: 06/21/2016 07:32 PM »
Interesting. It seems to me that most civilian high-resolution satellites use flat antennas too. If I recall my SAR lessons correctly, it's because antennas that are short in one direction have a higher resolution when doing SAR.

You may be conflating two things:
Classical reflector (parabolic section) antennas are often short in one direction. On Earth, that can be useful for a search radar: your radar beam is narrow but high, covering all altitudes at once, but giving good resolution in the horizontal direction. 

When you use a phased array, all that no longer applies. You control the beam by coordinating the transmission of each element, using all or part of the array as you wish. Square or rectangular is no longer an issue.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #38 on: 06/21/2016 09:23 PM »
You may be conflating two things:
Classical reflector (parabolic section) antennas are often short in one direction. On Earth, that can be useful for a search radar: your radar beam is narrow but high, covering all altitudes at once, but giving good resolution in the horizontal direction. 

When you use a phased array, all that no longer applies. You control the beam by coordinating the transmission of each element, using all or part of the array as you wish. Square or rectangular is no longer an issue.
That's not what I remember from my college Microwave Antenna design course. But it's been decades. For a phased array all elements are radiating and you steer the beam through constructive and destructive phase interference. It is the phase (Delay) of each element that you control to steer the beam/pulse. As far as square and rectangular go, the dimensions of the array have a large effect on the shape and compactness of the beam. That said, I'm not a microwave engineer, and the elder Bush was president the last time I looked at it... 
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #39 on: 06/22/2016 12:38 AM »
The title of this thread is "Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s" and yet for some odd reason over half of the posts here seem to be about synthetic aperture radar.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #40 on: 06/27/2016 11:23 AM »
Part 2 in my series on American signals intelligence satellites of the 1960 will appear later today. It is about AFTRACK. Only one poor quality AFTRACK payload photo has been released. However, we have a bunch of photos of Agenas being processed and their AFTRACK payloads are probably visible, if only we knew what they looked like. I think that the gray box in the top photo may be TAKI and/or SOCTOP. TAKI was a signals intelligence payload designed to intercept Soviet Tall King air surveillance radars.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #41 on: 06/27/2016 10:31 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3017/1

The wizard war in orbit (part 2)
Black black boxes
by Dwayne Day
Monday, June 27, 2016

By fall 1959, a number of CORONA photo-reconnaissance spacecraft had already been launched under cover of the Discoverer program, but none had operated successfully. Program officials became concerned that the Agena spacecraft that carried CORONA might be vulnerable to tracking by Soviet radars, or possibly even deliberate electronic interference. They did not think this explained CORONA’s early string of failures, but it was a possibility they worried about. At the time, Harold Willis was working in the Office of ELINT located at CIA Headquarters when CORONA officials briefed him about their program and told him about their concerns.

Willis also learned about the Samos Subsystem F signals intelligence satellite program, which at the time consisted of the F-1 and F-2 payloads. The former was a relatively small payload that would fly attached to a Samos photo-reconnaissance satellite and the latter a larger and more capable payload that would occupy the front end of an Agena spacecraft. Although the specialized F-2 satellite might be able to detect Soviet transmissions or interference, it was then scheduled to fly years after CORONA became operational. Willis thought that the Soviet threat to CORONA and other military satellites could develop sooner and they should not wait for the Samos signals intelligence satellites to provide data. He was not simply worried about problems over the Soviet Union but even far out over the oceans: the Soviets also had ships and trawlers with radomes, and nobody knew what they were for.

Willis discussed his concerns with Lockheed’s Bill Harris, who was working on Subsystem F payloads. Willis concluded that the Agena upper stages carrying CORONA cameras should be equipped with a small payload for detecting Soviet radar tracking or interference with the spacecraft’s S-band beacon. The beacon was used to announce the satellite’s presence to American ground tracking sites so that they could communicate with it. CIA officials approved Willis’ proposal in November 1959. The Agena spacecraft had an aft rack to which instrument boxes could be attached, like a luggage rack on a car. “AFTRACK” became the collective name for a large number of payloads carried on numerous spacecraft during the first half of the 1960s.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #42 on: 07/05/2016 09:04 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3020/1

The wizard war in orbit (part 3)
SIGINT satellites go to war

by Dwayne A. Day
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

By early 1968, the United States military was involved in an escalating ground and air war in Vietnam. American aircraft were being shot down at the rate of nearly one a day, and Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing of North Vietnam, was in full swing as B-52s unloaded racks of bombs over the jungle. The US Air Force was engaged in a constant battle against Vietnamese SA-2 surface to air missiles (SAMs), jamming them and spoofing them, electrons dueling invisibly in the air. American airmen with the job of physically destroying the missiles, going by the name Wild Weasels, went into battle with patches on their shoulders bearing the acronym “YGBSM.” It was reportedly the response of one electronic warfare officer when first told what he would be doing: “You gotta be shittin’ me…” he said. Fighting SAMs was a brutal business, and eventually the US military brought its top secret signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites into the war, using a strategic asset for tactical purposes. That effort followed over a half-decade advance in electronics and spacecraft technology.

« Last Edit: 07/05/2016 10:23 PM by Blackstar »

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #43 on: 07/07/2016 07:35 PM »
Great article. Do you plan to make a part on the geostationary signal intelligence satellites?
« Last Edit: 07/07/2016 07:37 PM by gosnold »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #44 on: 07/07/2016 07:51 PM »
Great article. Do you plan to make a part on the geostationary signal intelligence satellites?

I was not really planning on it. Part 4 is on the P-11 and other subsatellites. Will also touch on CANYON and I may also include JUMPSEAT (I have some info on both). Not sure if I'll go into RHYOLITE. There is minor new info on that, but not a lot. I will also do a separate article on the BIT boxes designed to protect the satellites from interference.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #45 on: 07/11/2016 12:31 AM »
This is the image that accompanied my recent article. I got this declassified and it was exclusive to TSR. Never before seen image of the STRAWMAN satellite.

Whereas many of the payloads are labeled, there are actually two antennas that are NOT labeled. Based upon their positions, it appears as if one of those antennas may have been labeled and the label was deleted for security reasons. I thought at first that this might be CONVOY, but a list of payloads for the STRAWMAN missions indicates that only the first two carried CONVOY and this is clearly a later satellite.

CONVOY was a payload designed to intercept signals associated with an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) radar. HARVESTER was also designed to intercept signals associated with the SA-5 radar at Tallinn, Estonia. The SA-5 was initially suspected to be an ABM system. So it seems possible that HARVESTER was the follow-on to CONVOY.

Ergo, whatever those two antennas are, they are probably not follow-ons to CONVOY. They're something different. According to Gunter's Space Page "Strawman 4 also carried the RM 19 radiometer payload." I don't know where that information comes from. I also don't know what a radiometer would look like. But maybe that's one of those things here.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #46 on: 07/11/2016 01:53 PM »
This is great.  The Thor "Heavy Elints" were a big mystery to me.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #47 on: 07/11/2016 02:23 PM »
I'm intrigued by the "Reaper" antenna array.  Were they spiral log periodic or spiral conical antennas?  Spiral log periodics, which have a spiraling antenna conductor on a cone, are broadband and thus might make sense for this application.  Helicals are probably designed for a tighter frequency band.  The drawing suggests cones to me.

Now I'm trying to imagine how a GEO version of this might look.  Big reflector onto an array of antennas, possibly.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 02:46 PM by edkyle99 »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #48 on: 07/11/2016 05:03 PM »
This is great.  The Thor "Heavy Elints" were a big mystery to me.

We have a lot more on them now. "The SIGINT Satellite Story" was my primary source for my series (except for the AFTRACK stuff), but I've pieced together other information as well. The official history has some problems (for instance, referring to mission numbers and also Agena numbers, which is confusing), so you have to patch it together. My suspicion is that now that NRO declassified that chapter of the official history they may release a document collection on the Agena SIGINTS as well, just as they did for Dual Mode GAMBIT, QUILL, AFTRACK and others. Let's keep our fingers crossed, because there are a number of interesting questions that the history raised that I would like to be able to answer. Off the top of my head, here are some of the open questions:

-what were the various payloads for? There are a few that we just don't have any description about.
-what were the frequency ranges in general?
-how did the Agena satellites fit with the other satellites in operation, like POPPY? What was the division of labor and the overlap in their missions?
-how did the Agena work for these satellites? We have a lot of info on the CORONA Agena development, but how did it differ for these satellites?
-what were the configurations for each of the satellites? It appears that each satellite was different, but how?
-what did the satellite payloads look like?
-how did the PENDULUM system work? What was its value?
-what happened to STRAWMAN 5? Was it preserved or scrapped?
-why was the program eliminated? What had changed?

I've got partial answers to a lot of those questions, but nothing definitive. I'd like to nail that down more.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #49 on: 07/11/2016 05:07 PM »
I'm intrigued by the "Reaper" antenna array. 

So REAPER was apparently primarily a location locator, and at least one sentence in the official history describes it as having sectors. So apparently it looked down and had (maybe) four quadrants. Depending upon where a signal originated, it could localize that signal, figuring out where it was on the Earth.

How it did this stuff is beyond me. There isn't much description in the official history, and I bet that it gets into weird frequency magic, so I'd probably never understand it anyway. Presumably the satellite itself has to know its location fairly precisely in order to pinpoint something on the Earth. But how did the satellite do that? And that goes to the earlier question I posed about the Agena: how did the Agena record north/south/east/west and up and down so that it knew the location of the signals it was picking up?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #50 on: 07/11/2016 07:13 PM »
Ergo, whatever those two antennas are, they are probably not follow-ons to CONVOY. They're something different. According to Gunter's Space Page "Strawman 4 also carried the RM 19 radiometer payload." I don't know where that information comes from. I also don't know what a radiometer would look like. But maybe that's one of those things here.

Some info on the RM-19: http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA051469

"RM-19 - These infrared sensors were packaged and mounted as a secondary payload on an Air Force satellite for the purpose of collecting background data in three different spectral regions. This successful program was performed by Lockheed from start to launch in a period of ten months and required interfacing with the integrating contractor, the SCF and the AFWTR operations."

Here is also some info on the RM-19 payload (although focused on the cryocooler of RM-19 and not the radiometer itself) and the launch month: "July 1971" - with STRAWMAN-4 being the only Air Force launch in July 1971.

https://books.google.de/books?id=YGsbU1XVmG8C&pg=PA230&lpg=PA230&dq=%22RM-19%22+%22radiometer%22+1971&source=bl&ots=QTzmAmpQKp&sig=a3wKhyyIDy7TNu_DxqgA8XJLBq4&hl=de&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22RM-19%22%20%22radiometer%22%201971&f=false



« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 07:15 PM by Skyrocket »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #51 on: 07/11/2016 08:35 PM »
Quote
-how did the PENDULUM system work? What was its value?

Based on your article, I am wondering if it was something they did on the ground to get the radar sites to switch on. You know, hand a pilot the task of zipping over the Vietnamese country side at high speed at a set time to get the radars to switch on while the satellite was overhead.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #52 on: 07/11/2016 09:58 PM »
I'm intrigued by the "Reaper" antenna array. 

So REAPER was apparently primarily a location locator, and at least one sentence in the official history describes it as having sectors. So apparently it looked down and had (maybe) four quadrants. Depending upon where a signal originated, it could localize that signal, figuring out where it was on the Earth.

How it did this stuff is beyond me. There isn't much description in the official history, and I bet that it gets into weird frequency magic, so I'd probably never understand it anyway. Presumably the satellite itself has to know its location fairly precisely in order to pinpoint something on the Earth. But how did the satellite do that? And that goes to the earlier question I posed about the Agena: how did the Agena record north/south/east/west and up and down so that it knew the location of the signals it was picking up?
Whenever an array of antennas is used, it becomes possible through various means to detect the direction of an incoming signal.  With some methods it is possible to do this without moving the antenna array itself.  Transmitted signals can also be aimed in specific directions by arrays.  Today's phased array radar is an example of the technique.  It is all black magic to most of us who are not antenna experts.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #53 on: 07/12/2016 02:35 AM »
Quote
-how did the PENDULUM system work? What was its value?

Based on your article, I am wondering if it was something they did on the ground to get the radar sites to switch on. You know, hand a pilot the task of zipping over the Vietnamese country side at high speed at a set time to get the radars to switch on while the satellite was overhead.

PENDULUM was the code name for the activity of taking data collected from MULTIGROUP and later STRAWMAN satellites on the location of SA-2 emitters and putting it in the hands of people in Vietnam planning airstrikes. There is not much about it in the official history. However, I noticed that the time that it was implemented corresponded with the time when LBJ halted bombing North Vietnam, restricting airstrikes to below the 19th parallel (the border). My guess is that before LBJ did this, the USAF had a lot of assets over North Vietnam and that is how they detected the SA-2s. After the halt, they had much worse data on the SA-2 locations, so the satellites were used to provide some of that data. Probably not extremely useful, because the satellites were not overhead much. But every little bit helped.

Questions related to that include how did they do it? What was the equipment they used? How did they deal with the security requirement? How good was it in terms of accuracy?

The broader context is that it was rare to use "national" intelligence systems to support tactical battlefield requirements. So revealing PENDULUM is a surprise. I know of few other early uses of national level systems like this in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #54 on: 07/12/2016 06:14 PM »
Following up on PENDULUM:

What I don't have a good handle on is how the USAF hunted for the locations of SAM sites in North Vietnam. I know that in general Wild Weasel strike aircraft operated with other aircraft, like EB-66 Destroyers, to find the SAM sites:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_B-66_Destroyer

I think that the EB-66s recorded radar signals and used direction finding techniques to figure out the location of the emitters. Then this data was fed back to command centers, along with data collected from lots of other sources, like other aircraft, U-2s, and photo reconnaissance. But I don't know how it was all coordinated. I assume that there was some component of the command centers that specifically had the task of identifying North Vietnamese air defenses and SAMs in particular. And the PENDULUM information would have gone to that component, probably in a classified manner with careful "need to know." So while everybody in the SAM location and hunting component might have had secret level clearances, there might have been a couple of guys who had clearances to know about the PENDULUM data--or at least cleared to know what it was. They might have then gone into the plotting room and said "We have data from PENDULUM that shows SAMs here, here and here..." Nobody else would know what PENDULUM was, but they might have guessed--accurately or not.

I'm speculating here. I have a bunch of books on the Wild Weasels and one or more of them might go into detail on how they identified targets and tracked them in the command centers so that they could send aircraft out to hunt them. I'll just have to look for that stuff.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #55 on: 07/12/2016 08:55 PM »
Great stuff, thanks!

but wait they flew a KW-26 ? are there images of that part of the payload?, as i've never heard of a KW-26 flying, these were typical ground units and not small....

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #56 on: 07/13/2016 10:37 AM »
So REAPER was apparently primarily a location locator, and at least one sentence in the official history describes it as having sectors. So apparently it looked down and had (maybe) four quadrants. Depending upon where a signal originated, it could localize that signal, figuring out where it was on the Earth.

How it did this stuff is beyond me. There isn't much description in the official history, and I bet that it gets into weird frequency magic, so I'd probably never understand it anyway. Presumably the satellite itself has to know its location fairly precisely in order to pinpoint something on the Earth. But how did the satellite do that? And that goes to the earlier question I posed about the Agena: how did the Agena record north/south/east/west and up and down so that it knew the location of the signals it was picking up?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dwayne, it is clear that most of the systems on these satellites have one narrow reception beam pointing straight down. So when you hear the signal, you know that a radar is directly below the spacecraft. You get the location from orbital tracking. All the spacecraft needs is an accurate clock with time ticks recorded on the same tape as the radar signals.

REAPER seems to be different with multiple antennas. Since these are not arranged in any sensible phase relationship, probably they each point at a slightly different direction and produce a "rake" of beams across the ground track. This would give more precise locations.

This concept only works if the radar sends a significant amount of energy straight up. The standard Cosecant-squared antenna used in microwave radars has a hole in the beam at the zenith - in 1944 some USN vessels had a special up-looking radar installed to detect kamikazes diving through this hole.

But the Soviets in this period were mostly using VHF radars for early warning and these have a much broader beam in the vertical direction. In fact you can still see these huge antennas operating in the successor states today, often alongside modern narrow-band sets. Among their other virtues, they could pick up U-2s that were supposed to be flying above the microwave radars the CIA thought the Soviets were using.

In your SPACEFLIGHT article on this topic, there was a picture of a heavy ferret with rings of feed horns looking out sideways. This configuration would pick up the main horizontal beams from S-band and X-band radars.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #57 on: 07/13/2016 03:57 PM »
In your SPACEFLIGHT article on this topic, there was a picture of a heavy ferret with rings of feed horns looking out sideways. This configuration would pick up the main horizontal beams from S-band and X-band radars.

I don't remember that image. I had one artist illustration of an early Agena SIGINT (labeled as Samos Subsystem F). I had no photos of the satellite payloads. I am trying to get photos of the payloads for future articles.
« Last Edit: 07/14/2016 10:49 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #58 on: 08/30/2016 04:16 PM »
More info to be declassified on this subject soon.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #59 on: 09/06/2016 06:19 PM »
More info to be declassified on this subject soon.

It's probably not what you had in mind by declassification and not exactly about the 1960s, but The Intercept has published an article about Menwith Hill, a NSA base in the UK, with plenty of information on the current high-altitude ELINT satellites:
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/06/nsa-menwith-hill-targeted-killing-surveillance/
There are interesting link at the end of the article, including:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3089495/pages/MHS-collection-assets-p1-normal.gif

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #60 on: 09/06/2016 07:44 PM »
More info to be declassified on this subject soon.

It's probably not what you had in mind by declassification and not exactly about the 1960s, but The Intercept has published an article about Menwith Hill, a NSA base in the UK, with plenty of information on the current high-altitude ELINT satellites:
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/06/nsa-menwith-hill-targeted-killing-surveillance/
There are interesting link at the end of the article, including:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3089495/pages/MHS-collection-assets-p1-normal.gif

Great find - this document and the article provide a strong link between PAN and the ominous NEMESIS high orbit SIGINT satellite, which was mentioned in leaked budget documents. I guess, that makes then CLIO a candidate for the NEMESIS-2 satellite.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #61 on: 09/06/2016 10:14 PM »
There are interesting link at the end of the article, including:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3089495/pages/MHS-collection-assets-p1-normal.gif

That is the more interesting of the two

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #63 on: 09/07/2016 12:50 AM »
That's a lot of redacting. Glad this hasn't just been dumped out there without some attempt to review the info.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #64 on: 09/07/2016 02:17 AM »
ORION SIGINT satellite.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #65 on: 09/07/2016 02:17 AM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #66 on: 09/07/2016 02:17 AM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #67 on: 09/07/2016 02:18 AM »
PAN COMINT satellite.

Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #68 on: 09/07/2016 04:04 PM »
Whoever did the redacting on these I can understand them blanking out parts of the satellite and their operational capabilities, but their names as well?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #69 on: 09/07/2016 09:12 PM »
There are some very unhappy people at numerous three letter agencies right now
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Star One

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #70 on: 09/07/2016 09:54 PM »
There are some very unhappy people at numerous three letter agencies right now

In relation to this I assumed some government bod did the redacting that's what happened previously in consultation with the media company, I don't think ES does it all?
« Last Edit: 09/07/2016 09:55 PM by Star One »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #71 on: 09/07/2016 09:58 PM »
Whoever did the redacting on these I can understand them blanking out parts of the satellite and their operational capabilities, but their names as well?

The blanking was most likely done by writing to the 3-letter agencies and asking them 'we're gonna publish this; what part do you _really_ want out ( even though you'd prefer to keep all of this secret) - we're gonna at least listen to your suggestions. The codename/codeword could perhaps describe the number of these satellites, perhaps the mission, the version, that sort of thing?
Operational facts like ground-resolution or operational precision could lead to deductions about the satellite specs, or technology required; even though the publication ( the intercept / Greenwald / Snowden ) is going against the 3-letter agencies, they dont publish that because they see it doesnt really serves their readers as much as it does other players on the geo-political playing field.
At least, thats the reason I can come up with for blanking out the names? Or am I totally in the wrong here?

And that big reflector does like mighty interesting...

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #72 on: 09/10/2016 08:59 PM »
More info to be declassified on this subject soon.

It's probably not what you had in mind by declassification and not exactly about the 1960s, but The Intercept has published an article about Menwith Hill, a NSA base in the UK, with plenty of information on the current high-altitude ELINT satellites:
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/06/nsa-menwith-hill-targeted-killing-surveillance/
There are interesting link at the end of the article, including:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3089495/pages/MHS-collection-assets-p1-normal.gif

Great find - this document and the article provide a strong link between PAN and the ominous NEMESIS high orbit SIGINT satellite, which was mentioned in leaked budget documents. I guess, that makes then CLIO a candidate for the NEMESIS-2 satellite.

Do you mean they are likely one & the same thing, because this sounds like COMINT rather than SIGINT. Orion is SIGINT.
« Last Edit: 09/10/2016 09:03 PM by Star One »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #73 on: 09/10/2016 09:32 PM »
More info to be declassified on this subject soon.

It's probably not what you had in mind by declassification and not exactly about the 1960s, but The Intercept has published an article about Menwith Hill, a NSA base in the UK, with plenty of information on the current high-altitude ELINT satellites:
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/06/nsa-menwith-hill-targeted-killing-surveillance/
There are interesting link at the end of the article, including:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3089495/pages/MHS-collection-assets-p1-normal.gif

Great find - this document and the article provide a strong link between PAN and the ominous NEMESIS high orbit SIGINT satellite, which was mentioned in leaked budget documents. I guess, that makes then CLIO a candidate for the NEMESIS-2 satellite.

Do you mean they are likely one & the same thing, because this sounds like COMINT rather than SIGINT. Orion is SIGINT.

I consider COMINT a subset of SIGINT.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #74 on: 09/11/2016 12:51 AM »
I consider COMINT a subset of SIGINT.

Yes, generally SIGINT includes COMINT and ELINT. There was also a category called TELINT, for telemetry intelligence, but I don't know if that term is really used anymore.

I suspect that there is a fair amount of blur between these categories. For instance, if you were to intercept images being sent via Facebook, is that COMINT? What about communications hidden in the images? The spooks probably have lots of different subcategories.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #75 on: 09/11/2016 10:42 AM »
I consider COMINT a subset of SIGINT.

Yes, generally SIGINT includes COMINT and ELINT. There was also a category called TELINT, for telemetry intelligence, but I don't know if that term is really used anymore.

I suspect that there is a fair amount of blur between these categories. For instance, if you were to intercept images being sent via Facebook, is that COMINT? What about communications hidden in the images? The spooks probably have lots of different subcategories.

TELINT is now called FISINT (Foreign Instrumentation Signals INTelligence) - but these areas have become indeed rather blurred, especially since most communications are now digital.

Offline Targeteer

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #76 on: 09/12/2016 02:41 AM »
I consider COMINT a subset of SIGINT.

Yes, generally SIGINT includes COMINT and ELINT. There was also a category called TELINT, for telemetry intelligence, but I don't know if that term is really used anymore.

I suspect that there is a fair amount of blur between these categories. For instance, if you were to intercept images being sent via Facebook, is that COMINT? What about communications hidden in the images? The spooks probably have lots of different subcategories.

TELINT is now called FISINT (Foreign Instrumentation Signals INTelligence) - but these areas have become indeed rather blurred, especially since most communications are now digital.

No they aren't. www.au.af.mil/au/awc/space/au-18-2009/au-18_chap13.pdf (Attachment pages 174-176) 

The SIGINT arena is comprised of three sub-areas—electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence (FISINT)—which are differentiated based on the type of analysis to be performed and the nature of the emitter.

ELINT involves the collection and analysis of intercepted signals by other than the intended recipient. It involves the exploitation of signal “externals,” referring to the characteristics of the actual transmitted signal (including frequency of carriers and subcarriers, modulation, bandwidth, power level, etc.), beam footprint parameters, and emitter location and motion. A collection signal parameter
can be used to obtain a radio frequency (RF) fingerprint for each emitter/emitter platform, which can then be used to locate and rapidly identify the specific emitter or emitter type in subsequent intercepts. Generally, ELINT requires the least amount of analysis of the three SIGINT sub-areas.

COMINT involves the collection and analysis of intercepted signals used in communication systems by other than the intended recipient. Generally, the intercepted signal is demodulated, and the original data streams are extracted (voice, electronic messages, computer data, facsimile, etc.), which can then be processed by computer or analyzed by human analysts.

FISINT involves the collection and analysis of intercepted signals used in noncommunication data-transmission systems (telemetry systems, tracking/fusing/arming/command systems, beacons, certain video transmission systems, etc.). Generally, the intercepted signal is demodulated, and the original data streams are extracted. For encrypted communication systems, it may not be possible to extract the original data stream(s), but traffic analysis techniques can still be used to extract some useful intelligence data. Like COMINT, FISINT thus involves signal internals. However, unlike COMINT, FISINT can be used to determine the configuration, characteristics, and capabilities of the emitter and, more importantly, the overall system of which the emitter is a part.
« Last Edit: 09/12/2016 10:43 AM by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Vlong

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #77 on: 09/21/2016 09:59 AM »
Very interesting. I've seen you quote that 25 year rule before, but there does seem to be some flexibility in it as little bits and pieces have started appearing about the KH-11 in recent years and that's still in use.

There have been several generations of KH-11 over the years; the original model began flying in 1976 and one could imagine is quite thoroughly obsolete by now. Besides that, the Hubble Telescope was apparently a modified KH-11 so we already have a pretty good idea of what it looks like, and after the infamous leaked photos of a Soviet shipyard in 1984, we also pretty much know its photo resolution.

Offline Vlong

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #78 on: 09/21/2016 10:02 AM »
I would argue that understanding what optical satellites do is pretty straight forward. SIGINT is not, and the reason they are dragging feet as much as possible is telling how they work lets people understand and counter it. You kind of know if something can or can not be seen from space and if you should or could hide it ... but if you don't know something is emitting critical data, you can not mask it.

The Soviets evidently did know about the SIGNIT program because during the 80s, they switched to using landline cables for communication which could not be read by a satellite.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #79 on: 09/21/2016 12:33 PM »
The Soviets evidently did know about the SIGNIT program because during the 80s, they switched to using landline cables for communication which could not be read by a satellite.

It's way more complicated than that. You are apparently referring to communications. But SIGINT includes detecting radar signals too.

Also, if you read my series of articles, you'll note that one of the first communications targets that the Americans went after was Soviet air traffic control, meaning the communications between military pilots and ground controllers. That could be encrypted, but it was radio.

As for using landline cables, well look up Ivy Bells...


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #80 on: 09/21/2016 12:42 PM »
I would argue that understanding what optical satellites do is pretty straight forward. SIGINT is not, and the reason they are dragging feet as much as possible is telling how they work lets people understand and counter it. You kind of know if something can or can not be seen from space and if you should or could hide it ... but if you don't know something is emitting critical data, you can not mask it.

The Soviets evidently did know about the SIGNIT program because during the 80s, they switched to using landline cables for communication which could not be read by a satellite.

Microwaves were still used for long distance relays.

Offline Vlong

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #81 on: 09/21/2016 01:42 PM »
The Soviets evidently did know about the SIGNIT program because during the 80s, they switched to using landline cables for communication which could not be read by a satellite.

It's way more complicated than that. You are apparently referring to communications. But SIGINT includes detecting radar signals too.

Also, if you read my series of articles, you'll note that one of the first communications targets that the Americans went after was Soviet air traffic control, meaning the communications between military pilots and ground controllers. That could be encrypted, but it was radio.

I was mostly referring to COMINT and yes, not everything could be converted to landline.

As for Ivy Bells, that was a Navy program and had nothing to do with space missions.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #82 on: 09/21/2016 03:25 PM »
The Soviets evidently did know about the SIGNIT program because during the 80s, they switched to using landline cables for communication which could not be read by a satellite.

It's way more complicated than that. You are apparently referring to communications. But SIGINT includes detecting radar signals too.

Also, if you read my series of articles, you'll note that one of the first communications targets that the Americans went after was Soviet air traffic control, meaning the communications between military pilots and ground controllers. That could be encrypted, but it was radio.

I was mostly referring to COMINT and yes, not everything could be converted to landline.

As for Ivy Bells, that was a Navy program and had nothing to do with space missions.

You are missing my point, so I will re-state it:

Yes, some Soviet communications switched from being transmitted to going over landlines. But my point is that there were ways to intercept those communications too. Ivy Bells is one example.

And as Jim pointed out, the Soviet microwave communications network continued to exist.

Offline Vlong

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #83 on: 09/21/2016 03:44 PM »
Yes, some Soviet communications switched from being transmitted to going over landlines. But my point is that there were ways to intercept those communications too. Ivy Bells is one example.

This is true, but relatively speaking, it's a lot harder to crack landline communications. For Ivy Bells, they literally had to stick probes on an underwater cable and after a while, the Soviets found out and that was the end of that. Of course you can't realistically do this on land/aerial cables at all. So it's certainly possible to crack landlines, but overall much harder which means you'd on average have more security than with over-the-air communications, although nothing is impossible with enough effort.

As for the microwave network still existing, well, that's like I said. Not everything is suitable to landline use.
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 03:46 PM by Vlong »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #84 on: 09/21/2016 08:19 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3066/1

The wizard war in orbit (part 4)
P-11, FARRAH, RAQUEL, DRACULA, and KAL-007
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, September 19, 2016

In August 1968, Soviet forces invaded their captive ally Czechoslovakia. The invasion began with an intense electronic warfare campaign against the Czech air defense network. A declassified secret US Defense Intelligence Agency report, titled “Soviet Electronic Countermeasures During Invasion of Czechoslovakia” and produced in October 1968, provided substantial detail on Soviet electronic warfare actions. It stated, “Electronic countermeasure activity was concentrated southeast and east of Prague to screen and protect Soviet air movements.” It added, “Jamming apparently was not targeted in the radio frequency range of NATO radars; the locations of chaff seeding suggests that it was not intended to screen Soviet air operations from Western observers.”

The report was stamped for no foreign distribution “except Canada/UK.” Although it is only a few pages long, it contained significant information on Soviet jamming efforts. It noted that some of the jamming might have been directed at the SA-2 surface-to-air missile fusing system—a subject of considerable interest to the American military because SA-2 missiles had been blowing American combat aircraft out of the sky in Vietnam. Other jamming might have been intended for land-based guided missile systems that could have been fired at invading Soviet forces. The electronic warfare effort was successful, the Soviet invasion took place without a hitch, and the Czechs enjoyed another two decades in the workers’ paradise.

The report does not indicate the sources of its information, but because much of the activity took place far inside Czechoslovakia, it seems likely that American signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites flying over Eastern Europe gathered much of the data. In fact, this would have been an intelligence bonanza for the United States military, because the Soviets understood best how to jam their own equipment, and monitoring what they were doing in Czechoslovakia could have provided information that the American military could use against similar weapons systems in Vietnam.

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #85 on: 11/01/2016 09:01 AM »
Marco Langbroek has published an article on Orion and PAN, based on the Intercept documents and his own observations:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3095/1

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #86 on: 11/01/2016 11:25 AM »
Marco Langbroek has published an article on Orion and PAN, based on the Intercept documents and his own observations:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3095/1
This might be a bit off-topic from the thread title (1960s versus quite recent missions) so might perhaps be moved better to another thread.
It is an _excellent_ article. It nicely combines sleuthing, information, observation of orbital positions, but also somewhat delves into political and societal effects.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #87 on: 11/01/2016 01:56 PM »
Marco Langbroek has published an article on Orion and PAN, based on the Intercept documents and his own observations:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3095/1
This might be a bit off-topic from the thread title (1960s versus quite recent missions) so might perhaps be moved better to another thread.
It is an _excellent_ article. It nicely combines sleuthing, information, observation of orbital positions, but also somewhat delves into political and societal effects.

You're a bit late calling for another thread if you see a number of the posts above.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #88 on: 03/14/2017 04:38 PM »
A better version of The SIGINT Satellite Story has just been released. I have not looked to see if it has fewer redactions compared to the one released a year ago. That and some other documents are here:

http://nro.gov/whatsnew.html

« Last Edit: 03/14/2017 06:33 PM by Blackstar »

Offline gwiz

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #89 on: 03/14/2017 06:57 PM »
On a quick look, the redaction appears the same as the previous version, but the quality of the scan is a lot better.

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #90 on: 03/30/2017 05:56 PM »
The NRO has published a new video about GRAB on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQpEAUmd4Go&feature=youtu.be

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #91 on: 05/06/2017 02:13 PM »
I'm trying to piece together a history of US high-altitude SIGINT, and I'm looking for sources.

For now I have found a few of Blackstar's articles on LEO systems ("The wizard war in orbit" in the Space Review), with explanation about the US needs in SIGINT (as listed in COMOR memos). I am also looking at Jeffrey T. Richelson's work, mostly "The Wizards of Langley" and his "Eavesdroppers in disguise" article. Also found "The SIGINT Satellites of Pine Gap" by Desmond Ball, which is interesting.

Anybody knows about other content on the subject?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #92 on: 05/18/2017 09:58 PM »
I'm trying to piece together a history of US high-altitude SIGINT, and I'm looking for sources.

For now I have found a few of Blackstar's articles on LEO systems ("The wizard war in orbit" in the Space Review), with explanation about the US needs in SIGINT (as listed in COMOR memos). I am also looking at Jeffrey T. Richelson's work, mostly "The Wizards of Langley" and his "Eavesdroppers in disguise" article. Also found "The SIGINT Satellites of Pine Gap" by Desmond Ball, which is interesting.

Anybody knows about other content on the subject?

I just spotted this post. You need to start with the newly redacted version of "The SIGINT Satellite Story." Also the NRO's AFTRACK collection of documents. Both were my sources for "The Wizard War in Orbit" series. There are a lot of documents available on GRAB and POPPY, although you should start with The SIGINT Satellite Story for those programs.

If you are interested in aerial SIGINT, I don't know of a single over-arching source. There are a lot of books. You'd also have to look at material produced by The Association of Old Crows. Robert Hopkins' upcoming book on the KC-135 and its variants is also going to be valuable.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 05:18 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #93 on: 05/28/2017 11:46 PM »

Offline Targeteer

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #94 on: 05/29/2017 12:37 AM »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #97 on: 06/04/2017 05:29 PM »
Rob1, a guest author at my blog, and I, wrote an article about the various types of SIGINT collection and the corresponding targets:

https://satelliteobservation.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/signal-intelligence-101-sigint-targets/

It covers COMINT against microwave networks, satellite uplinks and missile telemetry. There's also content on technical & operational ELINT against radars. It's meant to introduce the SIGINT targets for a future article on the history of the US high-altitude SIGINT program. Hopefully we did not get too much wrong!

 


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #98 on: 06/04/2017 08:37 PM »
http://astronomy.com/bonus/secret?spMailingID=29244872&spUserID=MTE2MDc2MzU0MTM3S0&spJobID=1060274092&spReportId=MTA2MDI3NDA5MgS2

I actually published some of this stuff in a couple of articles and in a paper I delivered during the 1990s. We had declassified reports from "Studies in Intelligence" that explained some of the efforts to capture Soviet planetary mission signals. There are more, and interesting, details in here.

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #99 on: 08/01/2017 06:32 PM »
I co-wrote a second article about high-orbit SIGINT satellites:
https://satelliteobservation.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/history-of-the-us-high-altitude-sigint-system/

It's a chronology and draws quite a lot from Blackstar's articles, but also from some Snowden documents. I hope it's mostly correct, but information is hard to come by, so I welcome any comments or corrections.

If you read until the end, there is a gif of the whole constellation circling the Earth, it is an impressive sight.

« Last Edit: 08/26/2017 06:32 PM by gosnold »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #100 on: 08/01/2017 07:38 PM »
Not to be picky, but what about WHITECLOUD and NOSS/INTRUDER satellites. Speaking of which, didn't see anything about them. They are definitely signit birds. Are you excluding programs that used MOLNIYA orbits? 
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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #101 on: 08/01/2017 07:44 PM »
Not to be picky, but what about WHITECLOUD and NOSS/INTRUDER satellites. Speaking of which, didn't see anything about them. They are definitely signit birds. Are you excluding programs that used MOLNIYA orbits? 

WHITCLOUD/PARCAE and NOSS/INTRUDER are not really high-altitude birds.

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #102 on: 08/01/2017 07:47 PM »
Not to be picky, but what about WHITECLOUD and NOSS/INTRUDER satellites. Speaking of which, didn't see anything about them. They are definitely signit birds. Are you excluding programs that used MOLNIYA orbits?

No, it's an article about high-orbit satellites, so the  NOSS/INTRUDER are out of scope. For LEO satellites, the "Wizard War in Orbit" series is really the go-to reference I think (along with the official SIGINT history). The links to both are at the end of the article.

Regarding molnya orbits, Trumpet and Jumpseat are mentioned, there's even an illustration of what Jumpseat might have looked like.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #103 on: 08/01/2017 07:47 PM »
I think that Runway and Rainfall were code names for ground processing systems, NOT for the satellites.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #104 on: 08/01/2017 07:57 PM »
I think that Runway and Rainfall were code names for ground processing systems, NOT for the satellites.

In following text, RAINFALL is also interpreted as the ground station for Rhyolite.

http://nautilus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PG-SIGINT-Satellites.pdf

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #105 on: 08/03/2017 05:51 PM »
I think that Runway and Rainfall were code names for ground processing systems, NOT for the satellites.

In following text, RAINFALL is also interpreted as the ground station for Rhyolite.

http://nautilus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PG-SIGINT-Satellites.pdf

I re-read the doc and RAINFALL seems to be the name of the whole program (ground station + satellite).

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #106 on: 08/03/2017 06:47 PM »
I think that Runway and Rainfall were code names for ground processing systems, NOT for the satellites.

In following text, RAINFALL is also interpreted as the ground station for Rhyolite.

http://nautilus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PG-SIGINT-Satellites.pdf

I re-read the doc and RAINFALL seems to be the name of the whole program (ground station + satellite).

either way, this wording is wrong:
"RHYOLITE (unclassified codename RAINFALL
CANYON program (also known by its unclassified codename RUNWAY

Offline gosnold

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #107 on: 08/03/2017 08:08 PM »
I think that Runway and Rainfall were code names for ground processing systems, NOT for the satellites.

In following text, RAINFALL is also interpreted as the ground station for Rhyolite.

http://nautilus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PG-SIGINT-Satellites.pdf

I re-read the doc and RAINFALL seems to be the name of the whole program (ground station + satellite).

either way, this wording is wrong:
"RHYOLITE (unclassified codename RAINFALL
CANYON program (also known by its unclassified codename RUNWAY

Ok. Do you see other points needing an update?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #108 on: 10/29/2017 01:05 AM »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #109 on: 10/29/2017 02:13 AM »
(list here)

Wow, what a laundry list of code names!  Any idea when the memo was published or distributed?

Interesting that the redaction guidance memo contains code names that are themselves, redacted.

"Redaction Quality Control supervisor"--there's a job title for one's secret resume!
« Last Edit: 10/29/2017 02:17 AM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #110 on: 10/29/2017 04:08 AM »
So in otherwords, people researching these topics should be filing FIOA's for the list of code words the Redaction Quality Control supervisor uses... Nice job.

So Wild Bill, that must be a wild, wild story...
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #111 on: 10/29/2017 11:31 AM »
So in otherwords, people researching these topics should be filing FIOA's for the list of code words the Redaction Quality Control supervisor uses... Nice job.

So Wild Bill, that must be a wild, wild story...

http://thespacereview.com/article/3017/1

"After TAKI, Stanford’s engineers invented WILD BILL in spring 1961. It might have been named after Bill Harris or Bill Rambo. WILD BILL was to search for HEN HOUSE signals from the radar under construction at Sary Shagan. Nobody was sure what frequency it used other than 50 to 400 megahertz, based upon the size of the antenna and the requirement for tracking missiles and satellites.

Stanford Electronics Laboratory built WILD BILL and WILD BILL 1, covering the frequency range of 50 to 150 megahertz that signals analysts and radar experts thought would be the most probable band. WILD BILL was launched on July 7, 1961, on the back of a CORONA spacecraft and operated for two days, finding nothing. WILD BILL 1 was launched on February 27, 1962, on the aft rack of an Agena hosting another CORONA spacecraft, and operated for only two orbits, also not finding anything. ATI built later versions of WILD BILL. The company had been formed in Palo Alto by former Stanford Electronics Laboratory engineer John Grigsby. Lockheed contracted with ATI to build the follow-on versions of Stanford payloads. Multiple WILD BILL missions also flew, trying to gather HEN HOUSE signals."

Online Skyrocket

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #112 on: 10/30/2017 01:48 PM »


It is somewhat confusing, that there are different spellings of names compared to earlier releases. Just typos?

* OPPORKNOCKITY - OPPOR-KNOCKITY
* SQUARE TWENTY - SQUARE 20
* URSULA - URSALA 

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #113 on: 10/30/2017 02:57 PM »
I think those are typos. OPPORKNOCKITY is a pun ("opportunity knocks only once, opporknockity tunes only once"). One thing I got a kick out of with the AFTRACK declassification is how often these codewords were little more than inside jokes. For instance, "LONG JOHN" was named after a guy named John who worked on the program who was very tall. "NEW HAMPSHIRE" and "NEW JERSEY" both had to do with where some of the electronics were designed.

So where does "NOAH'S ARK" come from?

Offline Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #114 on: 10/30/2017 11:28 PM »
I too would echo zubenelgenubi and ask if the original source of the posted SIGINT satellite listing be provided--whether it's a URL link to a Webpage of a US agency, or just post a PDF that includes the cover page as well as the entire page that this listing appears to be excerpted from.  Good researchers would do that.

Thanks in advance. ;)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #115 on: 10/31/2017 11:54 PM »
Further to the above list, note that both "FARRAH" and "RAQUEL" are on there: both are names apparently for versions of the P-11-type small elint satellites launched from the early 1960s into the early 1990s. Both names had leaked out decades ago, but it is still a bit surprising to see them confirmed.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3066/1

"URSULA" was declassified a few years ago. There was a proposal for a code-name "DRACULA" which would be "Direct Readout And Collection ULA" (using the "ULA" shorthand for "URSULA"). That name was vetoed.

Also on there is "GLORIA" and I'm guessing that it could have been another of these type of satellites. Maybe that was the actual name used instead of "DRACULA." There's also a "CARRIE" on there as well. It seems like they were applying female names to these satellites for awhile.

Offline hoku

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #116 on: 11/03/2017 06:35 PM »
I think those are typos. OPPORKNOCKITY is a pun ("opportunity knocks only once, opporknockity tunes only once"). One thing I got a kick out of with the AFTRACK declassification is how often these codewords were little more than inside jokes. For instance, "LONG JOHN" was named after a guy named John who worked on the program who was very tall. "NEW HAMPSHIRE" and "NEW JERSEY" both had to do with where some of the electronics were designed.

So where does "NOAH'S ARK" come from?

Let's try to fill in the gaps according to
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Reconnaissance_Office#SIGINT

ARGUS (Advanced Rhyolite?)
Aquacade

Canyon

Chalet

...
... any suggestions for 2 code names between "DONKEY" and "FACADE"?

... any suggestions for a code name between "FARRAH" and "GLORIA"?


INTRUDER
Jumpseat
... plus two more code names between "HAYLOFT" and "LAMPAN"

MAGNUM or Mentor or Mercury?

Orion

...
...
... this is tricky, three SIGINT programs between "P11" and "PLICAT"

Project xxx (698BK < xxx  < 770)

Project yyy (770 < yyy  < 989)

RAVEN
... plus another code name between "RAQUEL" and "REAPER"

Rhyolite
SAMOS-F
... any suggestions for another code name between "REAPER " and "SAMPAN"?

Trumpet

... any codename after "URSALA" (it now get's tricky as the alphabetical order drops, VINO ahead of VAMPAN, and WILD BILL followed by WESTON)

...
... two more code names near the end of the alphabet
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 06:45 PM by hoku »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #117 on: 11/03/2017 07:35 PM »
SAMOS-F

I don't think that's on there. For starters, it was never classified.

Also, rather notably, the Navy code names like GRAB, POPPY, DYNO, are not on that list. Why make that distinction?



« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 07:37 PM by Blackstar »

Offline hoku

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #118 on: 11/29/2017 10:42 AM »
...

So where does "NOAH'S ARK" come from?
Maybe "Named for Noah Tony Taussig who was in charge of the vehicle." - see footnote 1 on page 43 in the PDF (and pages 129 to 146 for the launch information on NOAH's ARC, LONG JOHN, OPPORKNOCKITY, URSALA, etc.):

http://www.governmentattic.org/26docs/NSAinSpaceViaNRO_1975.pdf

Document gives an overview of NSA's space activities from the mid '50s to the mid '70s, including photographs and artist impressions of some of the missions (though scan quality could have been better).

« Last Edit: 11/29/2017 10:44 AM by hoku »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #119 on: 11/29/2017 05:40 PM »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #120 on: 11/30/2017 06:08 AM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #121 on: 11/30/2017 06:45 AM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

Next release alluded to here should be interesting as then we wade into the far more unknown waters of the seventies. Especially if they will release anything on Magnum.
« Last Edit: 11/30/2017 06:45 AM by Star One »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #122 on: 11/30/2017 07:47 AM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

Next release alluded to here should be interesting as then we wade into the far more unknown waters of the seventies. Especially if they will release anything on Magnum.

I am becoming somewhat skeptical, if the MAGNUM/ORION geo SIGINT satellites were ever really named MAGNUM, as the recent declassified documents show a Subsatellite Ferret mission called MAGNUM. I had until now never found a hint on reuse of a codename.
« Last Edit: 11/30/2017 07:47 AM by Skyrocket »

Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #123 on: 11/30/2017 11:36 AM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

Next release alluded to here should be interesting as then we wade into the far more unknown waters of the seventies. Especially if they will release anything on Magnum.

I am becoming somewhat skeptical, if the MAGNUM/ORION geo SIGINT satellites were ever really named MAGNUM, as the recent declassified documents show a Subsatellite Ferret mission called MAGNUM. I had until now never found a hint on reuse of a codename.

It’s the payload that seems to haveplayed a part in Falkland’s war I am interested about. Though as that operated seemingly for an incredibly long time up until relatively recently maybe it will be excluded from declassification for now.

Offline Jim

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #124 on: 11/30/2017 02:32 PM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

Next release alluded to here should be interesting as then we wade into the far more unknown waters of the seventies. Especially if they will release anything on Magnum.

There are many before that will have to be declassified, like RHYOLITE, CANYON, etc

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #125 on: 11/30/2017 05:52 PM »
Loads of new declassified documents:

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html

Next release alluded to here should be interesting as then we wade into the far more unknown waters of the seventies. Especially if they will release anything on Magnum.

There are many before that will have to be declassified, like RHYOLITE, CANYON, etc

Star One: also note that even for the POPPY series quite a number of facts are still classified. E.g., the final launch of the POPPY series (POPPY IX) was in December 1971, and the expected lifetime of this mission according to the "NSA in space" doc from 1975 is still "exempted from automatic declassification at 25 years" in the 2017 release (reason 3.3(b)(1) is provided, i.e. releasing the expected lifetime would "reveal information about the application of an intelligence source or method;").

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #126 on: 12/01/2017 03:11 AM »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #127 on: 12/01/2017 03:51 AM »
This document is apparently missing:

235 Payload Vehicle

And this one links to the wrong document:

Operational Requirements and Technical Approach for WS-117L Visual and FERRET Subsystems

(it links to the Titan III document)

Hopefully they will repair the links.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2017 04:01 AM by Blackstar »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #128 on: 12/01/2017 04:35 AM »
Note that this version of STRAWMAN has four solar arrays, not three. I think this is conceptual artwork and the other images represent the operational version with only three arrays.

Offline koroljow

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Geschichte und Geschichten aus sechs Jahrzehnten Raumfahrt:
http://www.raumfahrtkalender.de

Offline gwiz

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #130 on: 12/01/2017 01:19 PM »
Star One: also note that even for the POPPY series quite a number of facts are still classified. E.g., the final launch of the POPPY series (POPPY IX) was in December 1971, and the expected lifetime of this mission according to the "NSA in space" doc from 1975 is still "exempted from automatic declassification at 25 years" in the 2017 release (reason 3.3(b)(1) is provided, i.e. releasing the expected lifetime would "reveal information about the application of an intelligence source or method;").
There was an NRL list of their satellites that gave the lifetimes.  One of the Poppy 9 satellites has "8 years" against it, rest blank.  However, the Poppy History says the programme ended September 1977.

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #131 on: 12/01/2017 05:08 PM »
I don't know: is here the right place for this ?
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/agena.html

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #132 on: 12/01/2017 07:17 PM »
Here is the NRO Facebook post announcing the latest release now being discussed.  The world sure has changed with the once Top Secret NRO now having a Facebook page...

National Reconnaissance Office 5 hrs ·

The documents in the SIGINT Phase II release demonstrate the rich history of SIGINT in U.S. intelligence efforts and show the move from mere experimentation to a significant and relied-upon source of intelligence that has informed both tactical and strategic decisions since World War II.

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/SIGINT_PhaseII.html
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #133 on: 12/01/2017 08:21 PM »
I don't know: is here the right place for this ?
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/agena.html


As above...

National Reconnaissance Office 6 hrs ·

While NRO has previously released records on the Agena flight control vehicle, this latest release includes almost all of the contents of the program -- demonstrating the significant role the Agena had in furthering the United States' work in developing and operating national reconnaissance satellites.
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #134 on: 12/02/2017 04:30 AM »
I don't know: is here the right place for this ?
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/agena.html


As above...

National Reconnaissance Office 6 hrs ·

While NRO has previously released records on the Agena flight control vehicle, this latest release includes almost all of the contents of the program -- demonstrating the significant role the Agena had in furthering the United States' work in developing and operating national reconnaissance satellites.

Those Agena documents have been publicly available for a long time. I copied all or most of them back in the 1990s at Maxwell Air Force Base. The problem with that collection is that it stops around 1967 and Agena was operational for another 20 years. It gives a really good overview of the creation and early development of the program, but leaves out later modifications and improvements.

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #135 on: 12/03/2017 02:22 PM »
New members in the POPPY-family !
POPPY 1 29.06.1961
POPPY 2 24.01.1962


Offline gwiz

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #136 on: 12/04/2017 01:33 PM »
New members in the POPPY-family !
POPPY 1 29.06.1961
POPPY 2 24.01.1962
It says "Poppy II (2 Ball)".  Does this mean that there was a second Poppy payload?  The Lofti?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1960s
« Reply #137 on: 12/04/2017 02:33 PM »
New members in the POPPY-family !
POPPY 1 29.06.1961
POPPY 2 24.01.1962
It says "Poppy II (2 Ball)".  Does this mean that there was a second Poppy payload?  The Lofti?

I think, there are mistakes in this list concerning the Grab/Poppy launches. This list omits the fifth Grab type satellite, which was lost in a Scout launch failure (26 April 1962). Apparently two launches of the five Grab launches were re-designated Poppy.
According to "The SIGINT Satellite Story", these were the 4th and 5th launch.

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