Author Topic: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s  (Read 23508 times)

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #100 on: 01/04/2024 11:48 am »
Though going back to Guenter's question/comment https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=59075.msg2554686#msg2554686 about what might have existed commercially in 2008 I see there is a helpful RAND report from 2017 on what was possible   even then (exploiting the maritime Automatic Identification System) and the more specifically RF spectrum mapping of more recent ventures like HE360 and Umbra

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE200/PE273/RAND_PE273.pdf
« Last Edit: 01/04/2024 11:49 am by LittleBird »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #101 on: 01/23/2024 03:19 pm »
What are the chances of the commercial reference just being a flub that got carried over from a pre existing memo on IMINT.

The commercial reference  is to today's satellites, not those of 2008, I didn't make this clear in my original post which is why I corrected it, see also grab below from Scolese memo.

Hence I'd say it's much more likely to be true than a flub. See Hawkeye 360 https://www.he360.com/, Umbra https://umbra.space/ (which operates as a passive RF sensor as well as active SAR) etc etc. Umbra's antenna patents are online for those with more technical expertise than me to ponder.

By the way, not only are Umbra's antenna patents online, Hawkeye 360's direction finding method is a publicly patented thing, see https://patents.google.com/patent/US9661604B1/en  and https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/9e/24/7d/933c942ba50ffa/US9661604.pdf  .

Not that this is necessarily the same as what PARCAE did, but it emphasises the change in the climate of secrecy around all this.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #102 on: 02/07/2024 01:15 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4736/1

The Missing Link: Found
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, February 5, 2024

Jodrell Bank Observatory is a research facility southeast of Liverpool in the center of England. It was first established after World War II and gradually expanded to include a number of radio telescopes, the most prominent being a 76-meter (250-foot) dish, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. The observatory has been the site of numerous scientific discoveries, including the study of pulsars and other exotic stellar objects. Jodrell Bank also achieved a certain amount of fame during the early years of the space age when it collected the signals from Soviet planetary spacecraft, particularly lunar missions.

Jodrell Bank was truly unique during the first decade or so of the space age because although it was a British facility that occasionally listened in on Soviet spacecraft, the Soviet Union and its allies also sent researchers there, and even asked for assistance in detecting their own spacecraft. The observatory played a role in both Cold War competition and cooperation. But it also had a darker, more mysterious side.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #103 on: 02/07/2024 01:37 pm »
The "missing link" was a satellite signal that the NSA knew existed, but could not find after decades of searching.

Note that this article connects with the STONEHOUSE article:

https://thespacereview.com/article/4580/1

And this is relevant:

James Burke, “The Missing Link,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 22, Winter 1978.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #104 on: 02/07/2024 02:48 pm »
The "missing link" was a satellite signal that the NSA knew existed, but could not find after decades of searching.

Note that this article connects with the STONEHOUSE article:

https://thespacereview.com/article/4580/1

And this is relevant:

James Burke, “The Missing Link,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 22, Winter 1978.

Jim Burke's 1984 article "The Missing Link Revealed"  is also relevant, though a bit of a challenge to read through the redactions: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB501/docs/EBB-40.pdf

Says first intercept was in November 1983. Also mentions that SETI equipment somewhere was diverted to the search, though not clear where.

« Last Edit: 02/07/2024 02:53 pm by LittleBird »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #105 on: 02/07/2024 10:22 pm »
Jim Burke's 1984 article "The Missing Link Revealed"  is also relevant, though a bit of a challenge to read through the redactions: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB501/docs/EBB-40.pdf

Says first intercept was in November 1983. Also mentions that SETI equipment somewhere was diverted to the search, though not clear where.


Good reminder. What I'd like to see is a photo of that trailer with the NASA logo outside of Jodrell Bank. I'm sure people took photos, although whether any remain is another question.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #106 on: 02/08/2024 09:57 am »
Jim Burke's 1984 article "The Missing Link Revealed"  is also relevant, though a bit of a challenge to read through the redactions: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB501/docs/EBB-40.pdf

Says first intercept was in November 1983. Also mentions that SETI equipment somewhere was diverted to the search, though not clear where.


Good reminder. What I'd like to see is a photo of that trailer with the NASA logo outside of Jodrell Bank. I'm sure people took photos, although whether any remain is another question.

Interestingly, even though it's heavily redacted one can see the 1984 Burke article is talking about the role of diverted *US* SETI equipment in the search. I'm wondering if that might be the first iteration of Berkeley's SERENDIP, which begin in 1980 or a prototype of its Mark II. This would, I guess, be in addition to whatever NSA had in trailer at Jodrell ? Or was a wideband SETI receiver "borrowed" and taken to UK by NSA ... which would be a truly great yarn ?

[Edit: I was also interested to see that the role of SETI equipment in the search was anticipated in the 1978 Burke article, see last grab below, from https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB501/docs/EBB-28.pdf in the Electronic Brifing Book here: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB501/ ]
« Last Edit: 02/08/2024 03:03 pm by LittleBird »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #107 on: 02/09/2024 06:52 pm »
It looks like the John Rylands Archives at Manchester have the Cold War Lovell papers:

https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/

which will contain some interesting things: https://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2009/05/20/200509_sir_bernard_lovell_cold_war_feature.shtml




Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #108 on: 02/12/2024 10:51 am »
It was a very good reading and an eye opener. I knew some play havoc with undersea cables, but I did not knew weird things were happening in GEO too.

Weird things have been happening in GEO for a lot longer than you imagine.

Bouncing off this. Seems space sleuths have found the X-37B hanging around in a Molniya orbit.  I can't help thinking it is there to "interact" with russian assets there...  comsats and others.
Which would be a kind of "symmetrical answer" (Cold War style)  to the Soviets spying GEO spysats.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat
« Last Edit: 02/12/2024 10:53 am by Emmettvonbrown »

Offline Jim

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #109 on: 02/13/2024 01:20 pm »

Bouncing off this. Seems space sleuths have found the X-37B hanging around in a Molniya orbit.  I can't help thinking it is there to "interact" with russian assets there...  comsats and others.
Which would be a kind of "symmetrical answer" (Cold War style)  to the Soviets spying GEO spysats.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat


No.   Molniya orbit is 63 degrees.  X-37 is at 59.    Molniya orbits are like spirograph art, unless they are in the exact same orbit, they will never be close to anything.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2024 01:21 pm by Jim »

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