Author Topic: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s  (Read 23679 times)

Online Blackstar

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Starting a new thread.

My next Space Review article is about the Interim Tactical ELINT Processor/Tactical User Terminal (ITEP/TUT) program in the 1970s-1990s. This was the first Tactical Exploitation of National CAPabilities (TENCAP) program, and it brought data from the Program 989 satellites (and possibly others) down to tactical users in the US Army.

I may be following it up with other articles on the development of this and related programs, although I don't have anything on that in the works yet.

 

Online Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #1 on: 06/20/2023 12:24 am »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4606/1

From the sky to the mud: TENCAP and adapting national reconnaissance systems to tactical operations
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, June 19, 2023

Throughout the 1960s, the United States invested billions of dollars in developing various intelligence satellites to collect imagery and signals data on the Soviet Union and its allies. From the start, this data was intended to serve “national” level leaders, starting with the president, his senior advisors, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other parts of the intelligence community. It was also intended for the National Command Authority and strategic forces by providing images, maps, and electronic data for bomber and submarine crews to increase their ability to perform their missions. The US Air Force’s Strategic Air Command was a major customer for the signals intelligence as well as imagery produced by these national-level systems.

But by the early 1970s, the customer base for these expensive and top secret systems began to change. The Navy had already started exercises to use satellites to detect and track Soviet naval vessels, and ocean surveillance would become a major mission by the middle of the decade. The United States Army became interested in using intelligence satellites to provide information to tactical forces as part of what came to be known as the Tactical Exploitation of National CAPabilities (TENCAP) program. The early focus of TENCAP involved bringing data collected by low Earth orbiting electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellites, primarily small Program 989 satellites, directly to deployed US Army units in Europe and Korea, bypassing the large ground terminals and satellite dishes in fixed locations in the United States—and also bypassing the National Security Agency, which sought to control the flow of signals intelligence data.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #2 on: 06/20/2023 02:45 am »
I'm very familiar with the Air Force piece of this program which was Constant Source https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/constant_source.htm .  While assigned to an F-16 Unit from 1999-1999, I had the "joy" of being the system administrator with 2 whole weeks of school on how to run this UNIX based system with associated COMSEC hardware http://www.jproc.ca/scam/kgr96.html and keying material--yuck.  The bundle of joy was "deployable"--actually a nightmare to pack on pallets especially when it migrated to CIS as detailed in the llnk.--and would be our way to update threats to our operations.  Not sure how far into detail I can go about strengths and weaknesses, but in the days before widespread classified network digital access, it was a good tool to have.

I find the initial Army interest both intriguing and confusing.  You site the SA-6 that was indeed a threat to helos and the A-10, but arguably MANPADs and AAA were far more numerous and threatening.  If memory serves me right, during  OIF over 30 Apaches attacked an Iraqi Armored Division south of Baghdad and over half were shot to pieces, one had to make an emergency landing, and all the damage was by MANPADs and AAA.  Even "near real time" data on the SA-6 didn't mean much.  It's rapid mobility made it a true pain in the XXX to mission plan against during Southern Watch and the Balkans--ask Scott O'grady--but there is a whole separate story about him and that incident.  You knew the systems were around and as Intel you made sure the crews were aware and refreshed their training about counter-measures and tactics while the Mission Planners made sure SEAD (F-16 HARM shooters, not useless F-18s) and Spark Vark/Prowler jammers were available.  I debriefed one of our Viper Flight leads, who made General, after his flight during OSW was engaged by a probable SA-6 and broke hard after a "missiles in the air" call.  He was stunned how quickly the missiles got to him and passed by despite our repeated briefs on it's speed.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2023 03:14 am by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Online Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #3 on: 06/20/2023 11:42 am »
I find the initial Army interest both intriguing and confusing.  You site the SA-6 that was indeed a threat to helos and the A-10, but arguably MANPADs and AAA were far more numerous and threatening. 

But a satellite could do nothing about those other threats. And knowing where the SA-6s were helped the Army know where the armored forces were.

I will also add that the SA-6 is the only radar target mentioned in the declassified documents. Everything else is deleted, although the SA-6 does make the most sense because it was mobile.

« Last Edit: 06/20/2023 01:34 pm by Blackstar »

Offline edzieba

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #4 on: 06/20/2023 04:31 pm »
There's also the possibility of survivorship bias: that AAA and man-portable systems were only the majority cause of damage because satellite signals intelligence was so effective in blunting the capability of SAM systems.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #5 on: 06/20/2023 09:12 pm »
There's also the possibility of survivorship bias: that AAA and man-portable systems were only the majority cause of damage because satellite signals intelligence was so effective in blunting the capability of SAM systems.

I would not give the satellites too much credit. They are just one part of a very complicated equation. There are assets that are actually in-theater that are useful. There is the issue of defensive systems on the aircraft that can warn of an attack, and how effective are they? Plus, there's the issue of tactics and how well you understand the enemy: if they charged in thinking that the Iraqi MANPAD threat was minimal and they were unprepared for it, then it's not surprising that it is more effective.

On a tangential note, one of the subjects I have long been interested in, but have never really researched that much, is the Wild Weasels and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). It's always struck me as really fascinating and impressive that there were a group of pilots trained to specifically go after the missiles that were trying to kill them. If you want a fun and interesting rabbit hole to dive down, you can listen to the interviews that Col. "Starbaby" Pietrucha has done for the YouTube channel 10 Percent True-Tales from the cockpit. He is very knowledgeable and interesting, and also often funny. He's now done maybe a dozen interviews for the channel and has discussed many different aspects of how the USAF detects SAM threats and deals with them. He thinks that USAF has given up an important capability by eliminating the Wild Weasel mission, and has hinted that this is going to come back and bite them in the future. Once you start listening to his interviews, you're going to get hooked. Here are two of the most recent ones:






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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #6 on: 06/20/2023 10:15 pm »
There's also the possibility of survivorship bias: that AAA and man-portable systems were only the majority cause of damage because satellite signals intelligence was so effective in blunting the capability of SAM systems.

I would not give the satellites too much credit. They are just one part of a very complicated equation. There are assets that are actually in-theater that are useful. There is the issue of defensive systems on the aircraft that can warn of an attack, and how effective are they? Plus, there's the issue of tactics and how well you understand the enemy: if they charged in thinking that the Iraqi MANPAD threat was minimal and they were unprepared for it, then it's not surprising that it is more effective.

On a tangential note, one of the subjects I have long been interested in, but have never really researched that much, is the Wild Weasels and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). It's always struck me as really fascinating and impressive that there were a group of pilots trained to specifically go after the missiles that were trying to kill them. If you want a fun and interesting rabbit hole to dive down, you can listen to the interviews that Col. "Starbaby" Pietrucha has done for the YouTube channel 10 Percent True-Tales from the cockpit. He is very knowledgeable and interesting, and also often funny. He's now done maybe a dozen interviews for the channel and has discussed many different aspects of how the USAF detects SAM threats and deals with them. He thinks that USAF has given up an important capability by eliminating the Wild Weasel mission, and has hinted that this is going to come back and bite them in the future. Once you start listening to his interviews, you're going to get hooked. Here are two of the most recent ones:







The F-4G with the APR-47 was a fantastic airframe and the last true Wild Weasel.  50 antennas gave it the ability to DF threats to within 1 degree and pass that info to HARM, drastically improving it's effectiveness.  The F-16 with Harm Targeting System has only a fraction of that capability. The SA-8 would also have been a target of interest and likely far more numerous near the front.   
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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #7 on: 06/20/2023 10:28 pm »
There's also the possibility of survivorship bias: that AAA and man-portable systems were only the majority cause of damage because satellite signals intelligence was so effective in blunting the capability of SAM systems.

During OIF both the RC-135 and U-2 were ever-present and passage of threats from them to aircraft via AWACs was practiced (Red Flag), standard, and rapid.  Images of the RJ flying East of Baghdad early in the campaign were widely publicized.

Arguably the biggest SAM threat to crews during OIF was from PATRIOT.  One Navy F-18 was shot down, killing the crew, and only a reactive HARM launch by a locked up F-16 with HTS saved that aircraft.  The HARM seriously damaged the offending PATRIOT radar, severely pissing off the US Army...

The true revolution of intel feeds to aircrews started with the fielding of MATT receivers https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/matt.htm into aircraft.  The first were AFSOC MH-53Js (became Ms with MATT) then MC and AC-130s.  Crews could then see, and react to, threats rapidly.  i spent 3 years in AFSOC and MATT integration into flight planning and execution was extensive.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2023 11:22 pm by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Online Blackstar

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #8 on: 06/21/2023 01:37 am »
The F-4G with the APR-47 was a fantastic airframe and the last true Wild Weasel.  50 antennas gave it the ability to DF threats to within 1 degree and pass that info to HARM, drastically improving it's effectiveness.  The F-16 with Harm Targeting System has only a fraction of that capability. The SA-8 would also have been a target of interest and likely far more numerous near the front.   

"Starbaby" has made that point in other interviews. Going from memory, during a recent interview he was asked about how the F-16CJ compares to the F-4G (which has been retired 27 years) and he said something like there are 10 major factors for measuring the effectiveness against enemy radars, and the F-16CJ is only approaching parity with the F-4G on one of them. He would not talk about what the factors are. The host noted that whereas the F-4G had 52 antennas all over the plane, the F-16CJ only has a single pod hanging under a wing, so you can figure that its field of view finding emitters is much more limited.

The other aspect is that there is no longer a dedicated Wild Weasel school to train pilots specifically to hunt SAMs. It's just an add-on mission, and doesn't get a lot of attention. Pietrucha's view is that because the USAF has not had to deal with a SAM-contested environment, they've neglected the mission and it will bite them the next time they face an adversary with significant capability.

Like I said, his interviews are fascinating and funny. You should listen to the one where he talks about the RAF Nimrod crew that showed up at an airshow with a massive amount of booze in their plane.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #9 on: 06/21/2023 02:58 am »
The F-4G with the APR-47 was a fantastic airframe and the last true Wild Weasel.  50 antennas gave it the ability to DF threats to within 1 degree and pass that info to HARM, drastically improving it's effectiveness.  The F-16 with Harm Targeting System has only a fraction of that capability. The SA-8 would also have been a target of interest and likely far more numerous near the front.   

"Starbaby" has made that point in other interviews. Going from memory, during a recent interview he was asked about how the F-16CJ compares to the F-4G (which has been retired 27 years) and he said something like there are 10 major factors for measuring the effectiveness against enemy radars, and the F-16CJ is only approaching parity with the F-4G on one of them. He would not talk about what the factors are. The host noted that whereas the F-4G had 52 antennas all over the plane, the F-16CJ only has a single pod hanging under a wing, so you can figure that its field of view finding emitters is much more limited.

The other aspect is that there is no longer a dedicated Wild Weasel school to train pilots specifically to hunt SAMs. It's just an add-on mission, and doesn't get a lot of attention. Pietrucha's view is that because the USAF has not had to deal with a SAM-contested environment, they've neglected the mission and it will bite them the next time they face an adversary with significant capability.

Like I said, his interviews are fascinating and funny. You should listen to the one where he talks about the RAF Nimrod crew that showed up at an airshow with a massive amount of booze in their plane.

I did a Blue Flag Command Post exercise at Eglin/Hurlburt field in 97 or 98 and there was a large UK presence.  When the exercise was over, the Brits sent one of their transports over to pick them up.  It too was full of alcohol... During OIF General Order 1 (GO 1) banning alcohol did not apply to the Brits.  I was assigned to support them in Basrah.  Watching Brits and Scots watch their national teams play a soccer match with the everyone hammered was interesting...
« Last Edit: 06/21/2023 02:59 am by Targeteer »
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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #10 on: 06/22/2023 12:31 am »
The SA-8 would also have been a target of interest and likely far more numerous near the front.   

This is true. The document I have that reveals the SA-6 has other stuff blanked out. That likely includes other possible targets for the satellites at that time. An obvious one that I don't know why they would delete would be the SA-2, which was the big one that shot down Gary Powers' U-2 and many B-52s over Hanoi.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #11 on: 06/22/2023 05:50 am »
The SA-8 would also have been a target of interest and likely far more numerous near the front.   

This is true. The document I have that reveals the SA-6 has other stuff blanked out. That likely includes other possible targets for the satellites at that time. An obvious one that I don't know why they would delete would be the SA-2, which was the big one that shot down Gary Powers' U-2 and many B-52s over Hanoi.

Maybe because of how widespread the SA-2 (aka S-75 Dvina)  was, including use by China, Egypt, Pakistan etc, coupled with fact that there are still a few hundred in service now. This applies to SA-6 too, but one current SA-2 operator is allegedly China if Wiki page to be believed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-75_Dvina [see map, blue are currrent, red are ex-operators].

Any support provided to US allies other than via NATO for S-75 spotting might still be politically sensitive.

A truly iconic missile-although a keen rather than skillful modeller I even made one myself ;-)

« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 05:53 am by LittleBird »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #12 on: 06/22/2023 06:05 am »
While assigned to an F-16 Unit from 1999-1999, I had the "joy" of being the system administrator with 2 whole weeks of school

A whole two weeks huh ?;-)

Quote
on how to run this UNIX based system with associated COMSEC hardware http://www.jproc.ca/scam/kgr96.html and keying material--yuck.  The bundle of joy was "deployable"--actually a nightmare to pack on pallets especially when it migrated to CIS as detailed in the llnk.--and would be our way to update threats to our operations.  Not sure how far into detail I can go about strengths and weaknesses, but in the days before widespread classified network digital access, it was a good tool to have.

Dead link for some reason ... Sorry, i'd failed to notice that "scam" had replaced a certain type of currency, as elsewhere on this site ...

But thanks for that-we few, we happy few (or possibly not so few), who were involved in Unix sysadmin in those days (in my case from 88-95ish as a part of a science postdoc) will surely feel your pain. Though I do also resonate with the great moment in Jurassic park "this is a Unix system ... I know this" ... I feel some of this is so engraved on my brain that it'll be the last thing to go ...

I remember seeing an ad from about then for a sysadmin to work at iirc Aerospace, who was required to manage what was politely described I think as a "heterogenous" network of the usual suspects, HP, Sun, SGI, possibly DEC by then etc ec. I thought at the time they'd be earning their money ...

« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 07:13 am by LittleBird »

Offline Star One

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #13 on: 06/22/2023 09:09 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813
« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 09:48 am by Star One »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #14 on: 06/22/2023 09:31 am »
While assigned to an F-16 Unit from 1999-1999, I had the "joy" of being the system administrator with 2 whole weeks of school

A whole two weeks huh ?;-)

Quote
on how to run this UNIX based system with associated COMSEC hardware http://www.jproc.ca/scam/kgr96.html and keying material--yuck.  The bundle of joy was "deployable"--actually a nightmare to pack on pallets especially when it migrated to CIS as detailed in the llnk.--and would be our way to update threats to our operations.  Not sure how far into detail I can go about strengths and weaknesses, but in the days before widespread classified network digital access, it was a good tool to have.

Dead link for some reason ... Sorry, i'd failed to notice that "scam" had replaced a certain type of currency, as elsewhere on this site ...

But thanks for that-we few, we happy few (or possibly not so few), who were involved in Unix sysadmin in those days (in my case from 88-95ish as a part of a science postdoc) will surely feel your pain. Though I do also resonate with the great moment in Jurassic park "this is a Unix system ... I know this" ... I feel some of this is so engraved on my brain that it'll be the last thing to go ...

I remember seeing an ad from about then for a sysadmin to work at iirc Aerospace, who was required to manage what was politely described I think as a "heterogenous" network of the usual suspects, HP, Sun, SGI, possibly DEC by then etc ec. I thought at the time they'd be earning their money ...



UNIX eventually became SOLARIS but it wasn't any better.  Talking to our "help desk" went "type back slash, grep..". Me "what the hell is grep?"
« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 09:36 am by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #15 on: 06/22/2023 12:09 pm »
UNIX eventually became SOLARIS but it wasn't any better.  Talking to our "help desk" went "type back slash, grep..". Me "what the hell is grep?"

I should say that in late 80s, with rather limited prior computer experience, mostly on mainframes or consumer machines like Sinclairs, I actually liked Unix in its HP/Sun/Sequent  etc etc flavours. My headaches came from things like PC to Unix connectivity, networking more generally, and the sheer variety of these flavours.

I had some casual interest in what was being done in huge volumes by the US DoD, eg the Desktop III PC purchase from UNISYS, and the later HP workstation purchase of the "J-class"  https://www.openpa.net/systems/hp-9000_pa-risc_story.html  which I seem to remember was finding its way onto USN ships, from what the company's ads said.

The history of SIGINT and the history of computing are so obviously interwined that I hope more about their intersections will be told in due course ... at the moment it tends to be in exhibits like the Crays on show at the National C*****logic Museum.



 Though the National Museum of Electronics near Dulles was an interesting exception-I see its on the move to Hunt Valley, MD https://www.nationalelectronicsmuseum.org/ [Edit: I should obviously also mention the Secret History of Silicon Valley site  https://steveblank.com/category/secret-history-of-silicon-valley/, H/T to hoku]
« Last Edit: 07/01/2023 06:42 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #16 on: 06/22/2023 06:46 pm »


UNIX eventually became SOLARIS but it wasn't any better.  Talking to our "help desk" went "type back slash, grep..". Me "what the hell is grep?"
[/quote]

I should say that in late 80s, with rather limited prior computer experience, mostly on mainframes or consumer machines like Sinclairs, I actually liked Unix in its HP/Sun/Sequent  etc etc flavours. My headaches came from things like PC to Unix connectivity, networking more generally, and the sheer variety of these flavours.


[/quote]

The struggle with now LINUX/PC connectivity continues.  Analysts want to work with Windows (I'm a Mac fan) but huge databases require links that aren't Windows and much instability and downtime results...
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #17 on: 06/23/2023 06:11 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813

Interesting. To file next to Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, Aid's The Secret Sentry and Aldrich's GCHQ among other less officlally endorsed books, as well as Behind the Enigma by John Ferris. I was pleased to see Sir John Scarlett's long preface is included in the Kindle sampler as well as some of the book itself iirc.

Offline Star One

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Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #18 on: 06/23/2023 09:20 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813

Interesting. To file next to Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, Aid's The Secret Sentry and Aldrich's GCHQ among other less officlally endorsed books, as well as Behind the Enigma by John Ferris. I was pleased to see Sir John Scarlett's long preface is included in the Kindle sampler as well as some of the book itself iirc.
I wonder if books like this have to be cleared by all the agencies he writes about both in the US & UK.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2023 09:21 am by Star One »

Offline hoku

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #19 on: 06/23/2023 06:04 pm »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813
Peter Wright's (somewhat controversial) memoir "Spycatcher" offers some nice insights into the early (1950s to 1970s) TEMPEST-style ELINT/SIGINT employed by the UK and FVEY, and into the special relationship between US/UK agencies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Wright_(MI5_officer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spycatcher

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #20 on: 06/24/2023 07:02 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813

Interesting. To file next to Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, Aid's The Secret Sentry and Aldrich's GCHQ among other less officlally endorsed books, as well as Behind the Enigma by John Ferris. I was pleased to see Sir John Scarlett's long preface is included in the Kindle sampler as well as some of the book itself iirc.
I wonder if books like this have to be cleared by all the agencies he writes about both in the US & UK.

In case of former members of Intelligence Community and, I think, former serving military, in UK and US, I think so, Blackstar could tell us about latter. And there have been interesting consequences if they don't ask, of course, e.g. the Peter Wright case as hoku says, or the Marchetti and Marks book, which with hindsight is actually first mention I've seen of geostationary spy sats-before Boyce and Lee affair. Without checking I am not sure to what extent the late Mathhew Aid had to have his book approved: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/intelligence/2018-09-10/remembering-matthew-m-aid-1958-2018

In case of journalists in US, no, as far as I know, but some have had different degrees of co-operation with e.g. NSA at different points in their careers, e.g. James Bamford who enjoyed quite a good relationship with Haden esp post 9-11 which surely had cooled somehat by the time of this: https://www.wired.com/2012/03/ff-nsadatacenter/

And third main group, academics like Aldrich (who is in UK), I think would be similar to journalists, at least in the US-though I don't know how the constitution protects them. My impression is that it is rather complicated in practise, a key thing being people's need to retain sources who will speak to them the next time. Jeff Richelson for example was exceptionally well connected and interviewed both Wheelon and McMillan for his books.

Last book I mentioned, Ferris, is the official history of GCHQ, but is slow going: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/21/behind-the-enigma-by-john-ferris-review-inside-britains-most-secret-intelligence-agency



« Last Edit: 06/24/2023 12:58 pm by LittleBird »

Offline Star One

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #21 on: 06/24/2023 11:37 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813
Peter Wright's (somewhat controversial) memoir "Spycatcher" offers some nice insights into the early (1950s to 1970s) TEMPEST-style ELINT/SIGINT employed by the UK and FVEY, and into the special relationship between US/UK agencies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Wright_(MI5_officer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spycatcher
I have a very vague memory of seeing Peter Wright being interviewed on TV at the time about the book, I think it was by Terry Wogan on his evening chat show.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #22 on: 06/24/2023 11:40 am »
For a wider context this new podcast talks to former British Army intelligence officer Michael Smith talks about the close relationship between the US & UK intelligence agencies including the NSA & GCHQ. He touches on signals intelligence sharing but obviously a half hour podcast he cannot go into as much detail as the book will. It made me laugh that so close can the relationship be that they’ve even ignored presidents in the past who’ve temporarily asked them to suspend intelligence sharing. His argument being that the real special relationship is between the intelligence agencies not politicians.

https://shows.acast.com/american-history-hit/episodes/the-cia-mi6-the-real-special-relationship

Here’s the book itself.

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Real-Special-Relationship/Michael-Smith/9781471186813

Interesting. To file next to Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, Aid's The Secret Sentry and Aldrich's GCHQ among other less officlally endorsed books, as well as Behind the Enigma by John Ferris. I was pleased to see Sir John Scarlett's long preface is included in the Kindle sampler as well as some of the book itself iirc.
I wonder if books like this have to be cleared by all the agencies he writes about both in the US & UK.

In case of former members of Intelligence Community and, I think, former serving military, in UK and US, I think so, Blackstar could tell us about latter. And there have been interesting consequences if they don't ask, of course, e.g. the Peter Wright case as hoku says, or the Marchetti and Marks book, which with hindsight is actually first mention I've seen of geostationary spy sats-before Boyce and Lee. Without checking I am not sure to what extent the late Mathhew Aid had to have his book approved: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu affair/news/intelligence/2018-09-10/remembering-matthew-m-aid-1958-2018

In case of journalists in US, no, as far as I know, but some have had different degrees of co-operation with e.g. NSA at different points in their careers, e.g. James Bamford who enjoyed quite a good relationship with Haden esp post 9-11 which surely had cooled somehat by the time of this: https://www.wired.com/2012/03/ff-nsadatacenter/

And third main group, academics like Aldrich (who is in UK), I think would be similar to journalists, at least in the US-though I don't know how the constitution protects them. My impression is that it is rather complicated in practise, a key thing being people's need to retain sources who will speak to them the next time. Jeff Richelson for example was exceptionally well connected and interviewed both Wheelon and McMillan for his books.

Last book I mentioned, Ferris, is the official history of GCHQ, but is slow going: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/21/behind-the-enigma-by-john-ferris-review-inside-britains-most-secret-intelligence-agency
Thanks for that. I forgot to say in the podcast Smith talks about going around an NSA station he doesn’t say which one, and encountering British people working there. He said you only knew when they opened their mouths and you heard their accents.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #23 on: 08/02/2023 10:23 am »
Interesting to see NRO being more upfront than ever about what looks v much like SIGINT in a recent 1 minute promo video.

I assume this is a generic satellite rather than a real one but it is surely for "hearing" rather than "seeing" ?




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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #24 on: 08/02/2023 01:21 pm »
They clearly used Juno for inspiration. I think a previous video used Voyager.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #25 on: 08/02/2023 09:59 pm »
Vaguely relevant NSA oral history which mentions POPPY, WRANGLER, ELINT,  Desert storm stuff
https://www.governmentattic.org/50docs/NSAohiREDACTED_OH-2007-09.pdf

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #26 on: 08/07/2023 03:57 pm »
They clearly used Juno for inspiration. I think a previous video used Voyager.



Maybe TACSAT-3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TacSat-3

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #27 on: 08/07/2023 04:13 pm »
Vaguely relevant NSA oral history which mentions POPPY, WRANGLER, ELINT,  Desert storm stuff
https://www.governmentattic.org/50docs/NSAohiREDACTED_OH-2007-09.pdf

One interesting thing is that the anonynmous interviewee talks about his first posting (first grab), at Adak (see YouTube video) and  says he was the first person to detect the signal from the HEN HOUSE radar (second grab), in what must have been early 60s.

« Last Edit: 08/07/2023 04:14 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #28 on: 08/18/2023 11:56 am »
They clearly used Juno for inspiration. I think a previous video used Voyager.

This one, yes ?


Had some nice exploded view images (I'm old enough that I find nifty graphics like this, well, nifty ;-)).

Also interested to see they had a v small  generic "KH-11" and a larger and afaik accurate SDS/QUASAR.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #29 on: 09/01/2023 10:26 pm »
This could also be posted in the HEXAGON thread, but we gotta start somewhere.

Post-mission report for HEXAGON mission 1208. A few things stand out to me. I'll go with the easier one first.

This mission had two subsatellites for deployment: TOPHAT 2 and an ARPA satellite. We now have the mass for TOPHAT 2, which I don't think we had before. I'll be compiling the masses for a few other satellites because of this.

But here's the other thing: what else was on HEXAGON that was deleted? I'd note that this category is deleted for all the released mission reports, so it seems like it was carried on all of them. And yet it is still classified. Some possibilities:

-threat warning system
-countermeasures (chaff?)
-an additional SIGINT payload?

Anyway, there you go. Something to chew on.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #30 on: 09/01/2023 10:34 pm »
And here is another one. This now gives us the mass of the MABELI satellite, 435 pounds.

I've written about MABELI before. It was designed to go after the main beams of Soviet anti-ballistic missile radars.

https://www.thespacereview.com/archive/4091-1.html


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #31 on: 09/01/2023 10:39 pm »
And so you don't have to go searching, here are the mission reports for 1201, 1202, 1203, 1204, 1205, 1206, 1208, and 1209. There is no released report for 1207 yet.

I'll also drop these into the HEXAGON thread.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #32 on: 09/01/2023 10:47 pm »
Now here's where things get a bit funky...

HEXAGON mission 1204 carried a subsatellite. But it was not a Program 989 satellite. Instead, it was a Program 801 subsatellite. What was Program 801? We don't know. But now we do know that the satellite weighed 149 pounds--a lot less than the other Program 989 satellites, huh?


Update: it has been brought to my attention that the mass listed inside the report probably includes some equipment that is not part of the satellite. Instead, you have to look at the mass properties table. Based upon that, the subsatellite weighed 129 pounds.
« Last Edit: 09/02/2023 01:26 am by Blackstar »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #33 on: 09/01/2023 10:51 pm »
And here is the report for HEXAGON mission 1206. No subsatellite, but it flew a SOLO mission after all the reentry vehicles were used up. What was the SOLO mission?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #34 on: 09/01/2023 10:55 pm »
HEXAGON mission 1209 carried the RAQUEL subsatellite, and an S3 satellite. As you can see, RAQUEL was heavier than TOPHAT 2. S3 was heavier than RAQUEL.

These satellite masses are significantly higher than the mass for the Program 801 satellite.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #35 on: 09/01/2023 11:07 pm »
Last one for now. HEXAGON mission 1203 carried the URSALA subsatellite.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #36 on: 09/02/2023 08:58 am »
This could also be posted in the HEXAGON thread, but we gotta start somewhere.

Post-mission report for HEXAGON mission 1208. A few things stand out to me. I'll go with the easier one first.

This mission had two subsatellites for deployment: TOPHAT 2 and an ARPA satellite. We now have the mass for TOPHAT 2, which I don't think we had before. I'll be compiling the masses for a few other satellites because of this.

But here's the other thing: what else was on HEXAGON that was deleted? I'd note that this category is deleted for all the released mission reports, so it seems like it was carried on all of them. And yet it is still classified. Some possibilities:

-threat warning system
-countermeasures (chaff?)
-an additional SIGINT payload?

Anyway, there you go. Something to chew on.
Nice!

Performance Evaluation Team Reports for 1203 and 1204 mention "Survivability System(s)" among the payloads. For 1204 they use plural, thus maybe they added a 2nd system?

The Flight Test Analysis Engineering Report for 1209 lists a "[REDACTED] B-3 System" as a Tertiary Payload.

Some of the PETs include redacted items in the timeline of the SOLO missions, thus these super-secret payloads might have been exercised also after the completion of the primary mission?
« Last Edit: 09/02/2023 08:59 am by hoku »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #37 on: 09/03/2023 06:03 am »
And here is the report for HEXAGON mission 1206. No subsatellite, but it flew a SOLO mission after all the reentry vehicles were used up. What was the SOLO mission?
According to PET 1206: Lots of engineering tests, 4 [REDACTED] (single revolution/single orbit?) tests, possibly involving the STC (Satellite Test Center). Glossary has one of the "S" items redacted.

Anyone who might want to guess which acronym could be missing between "SCF" and "SETS"?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #38 on: 09/03/2023 08:53 am »
And here is the report for HEXAGON mission 1206. No subsatellite, but it flew a SOLO mission after all the reentry vehicles were used up. What was the SOLO mission?
According to PET 1206: Lots of engineering tests, 4 [REDACTED] (single revolution/single orbit?) tests, possibly involving the STC (Satellite Test Center). Glossary has one of the "S" items redacted.

Anyone who might want to guess which acronym could be missing between "SCF" and "SETS"?

If any of the late HEXAGONs had readout experiments, which I think was discussed in a thread here, could it be SDS ?
« Last Edit: 09/03/2023 08:54 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #39 on: 09/03/2023 01:30 pm »
Now here's where things get a bit funky...

HEXAGON mission 1204 carried a subsatellite. But it was not a Program 989 satellite. Instead, it was a Program 801 subsatellite. What was Program 801? We don't know. But now we do know that the satellite weighed 149 pounds--a lot less than the other Program 989 satellites, huh?


Update: it has been brought to my attention that the mass listed inside the report probably includes some equipment that is not part of the satellite. Instead, you have to look at the mass properties table. Based upon that, the subsatellite weighed 129 pounds.
Do we know which mission the "Navy navigation satellite" flew on?

edit: note the spelling in the table head of the attached excerpt: "Communist Countries and Missile East".  ;)
« Last Edit: 09/03/2023 01:34 pm by hoku »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #40 on: 09/03/2023 01:35 pm »
I know it is my fault, but I think we should discuss HEXAGON ops in the HEXAGON thread, not the satellite signals intelligence thread.

However, they did experiments with HEXAGON reentries. I wrote about that 13 years ago, which was before HEXAGON was declassified:

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/1715/1


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #41 on: 09/03/2023 11:25 pm »
Do we know which mission the "Navy navigation satellite" flew on?
We can rule out:
* The P-11 series SIGINT sats (MABELI, URSULA, TOPHAT, RAQUEL, FARRAH)
* IRCB (an STP Infra red calibration balloon)
* the three S3 satellites (STP experimental satellites with known payloads)
* Pearl Ruby (a DARPA payload, likely an IR experiment)
Then also we have seven mysterious P-801 satellites, which are most probably not SIGINT (as I had posted earlier), but as there were seven, these do not fit the "one Navy navigation satellite" description

This leaves only the even more mysterious P-226 on the Hexagon 1210 mission.
« Last Edit: 09/03/2023 11:26 pm by Skyrocket »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #42 on: 09/04/2023 12:03 am »
Do we know which mission the "Navy navigation satellite" flew on?
We can rule out:
* The P-11 series SIGINT sats (MABELI, URSULA, TOPHAT, RAQUEL, FARRAH)
* IRCB (an STP Infra red calibration balloon)
* the three S3 satellites (STP experimental satellites with known payloads)
* Pearl Ruby (a DARPA payload, likely an IR experiment)
Then also we have seven mysterious P-801 satellites, which are most probably not SIGINT (as I had posted earlier), but as there were seven, these do not fit the "one Navy navigation satellite" description

This leaves only the even more mysterious P-226 on the Hexagon 1210 mission.



In my opinion a classified Navy nav sat is really unlikely.  Although aspects of the operational Transits were mildly classified
at one point, data on both the Transit and Timation programs are now fully available. I suspect  the statement is an error,
either
(1) confusing one of the attached APL Doppler Beacon payloads or NAVPAC payloads, which were Transit related, with a separating payload, or
(2) a typo in a designation, confusing e.g. STP P73-3 (Timation 3) with STP S73-5 (S3-1)
or
(3) P226 is Navy, but not a navigation sat per se.
-----------------------------

Jonathan McDowell
http://planet4589.org

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #43 on: 09/04/2023 12:43 am »
Do we know which mission the "Navy navigation satellite" flew on?
We can rule out:
* The P-11 series SIGINT sats (MABELI, URSULA, TOPHAT, RAQUEL, FARRAH)
* IRCB (an STP Infra red calibration balloon)
* the three S3 satellites (STP experimental satellites with known payloads)
* Pearl Ruby (a DARPA payload, likely an IR experiment)
Then also we have seven mysterious P-801 satellites, which are most probably not SIGINT (as I had posted earlier), but as there were seven, these do not fit the "one Navy navigation satellite" description

This leaves only the even more mysterious P-226 on the Hexagon 1210 mission.



In my opinion a classified Navy nav sat is really unlikely.  Although aspects of the operational Transits were mildly classified
at one point, data on both the Transit and Timation programs are now fully available. I suspect  the statement is an error,
either
(1) confusing one of the attached APL Doppler Beacon payloads or NAVPAC payloads, which were Transit related, with a separating payload, or
(2) a typo in a designation, confusing e.g. STP P73-3 (Timation 3) with STP S73-5 (S3-1)
or
(3) P226 is Navy, but not a navigation sat per se.

This is indeed more likely than my interpretation based on the premise that there was indeed a free flying "Navy navigation satellite".

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #44 on: 09/10/2023 05:12 pm »
Given the large number of satellites discussed, I think posting here makes sense

https://sattrackcam.blogspot.com/2023/09/recovering-usa-310-pan-and-trumpet-2.html

Sunday, 10 September 2023
Recovering USA 310, PAN and Trumpet 2
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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #45 on: 09/25/2023 08:26 pm »
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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #46 on: 09/25/2023 09:18 pm »
NRO is teasing something, again 

I have learned to temper my excitement. These things seem to be recruiting/image videos. It's "we do cool stuff." But that doesn't mean that they're going to talk about their cool stuff, unfortunately.

Lockheed Martin has been teasing something about an aircraft. Like maybe they have a top secret aircraft that they are maybe going to debut. Maybe. It has the aviation buffs all sitting on the edge of their seat. But they could be doing that kind of stuff for years. And then maybe nothing happens. Maybe.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #47 on: 09/25/2023 10:07 pm »
For reference, the national archives link to Vol 9 (and 8 ) of the "US Cry-pt History", which covers "The Foreign Missile and Space Technology Collection Story: Part Two: the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s" (Vol 8 covers 1950s and 1960s):
https://www.archives.gov/declassification/iscap/pdf/2012-001

Lots of redactions, but also some (partial) overview on the evolution of collection methods from ground and space, and the redirection of collection efforts during that period.
« Last Edit: 09/25/2023 10:08 pm by hoku »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #48 on: 09/26/2023 06:13 am »
For reference, the national archives link to Vol 9 (and 8 ) of the "US Cry-pt History", which covers "The Foreign Missile and Space Technology Collection Story: Part Two: the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s" (Vol 8 covers 1950s and 1960s):
https://www.archives.gov/declassification/iscap/pdf/2012-001

Lots of redactions, but also some (partial) overview on the evolution of collection methods from ground and space, and the redirection of collection efforts during that period.

Thanks. I'd forgotten, if I ever knew, that SIVET was Tevis spelled backwards ... and that PUNDIT did indeed encrypt its take (not all P-11s did, iirc v few did).
« Last Edit: 09/26/2023 03:24 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #49 on: 09/26/2023 03:28 pm »
For reference, the national archives link to Vol 9 (and 8 ) of the "US Cry-pt History", which covers "The Foreign Missile and Space Technology Collection Story: Part Two: the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s" (Vol 8 covers 1950s and 1960s):
https://www.archives.gov/declassification/iscap/pdf/2012-001

Lots of redactions, but also some (partial) overview on the evolution of collection methods from ground and space, and the redirection of collection efforts during that period.

Another interesting thing here is a ref listed at end of the final volume, pity the comments on it are redacted. I know Aid's later book The Secret Sentry but hadn't heard of this one. [Edit: I see first 40 pages or so are on Google books, see Christopher Andrew grab below]
« Last Edit: 09/26/2023 03:39 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #51 on: 09/28/2023 03:49 pm »
Darn, they had to do this on the one day that I get really busy...

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #52 on: 09/28/2023 05:19 pm »
A few observations:

-if NRO is going to declassify anything, they will probably do it in September. Have to get it done before the end of the fiscal year?

-they tie declassification actions to anniversaries.

-no documents in this release. However, we can probably expect them to release documents because they have in the past.

-no photographs of the actual satellites, only artwork and a model. That leads me to believe that they prepared this specifically for the announcement, and built a model to show it off, but the rest of the declassification of photos, etc., is lagging behind.

---that model shows an early version of the satellite. The ones launched in the 1990s were apparently shaped like tuna cans. Also, they incorporated the P-989 missions as well, so the targets were not just naval vessels.

-previously, the rule of thumb seemed to be that they waited 25 years after the end of a program before they declassified it. This one is only 15 years.

-no mention of transmitting data directly to ships at sea, but I suspect that this capability was added at some point.

-the satellites launched in the 1990s were originally scheduled for the shuttle.
« Last Edit: 09/28/2023 06:26 pm by Blackstar »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #53 on: 09/28/2023 05:48 pm »
Not much in the fact sheet.

A few points which can be inferred from the information given:

* The mission numbers (7108 to 7120) are a continuing sequence from Poppy and encompass both the Atlas and Titan launched triplets
* The Titan launched triplets are "improved Parcae" and include a COMINT capability
* Parcae was operated until 2008

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #54 on: 09/28/2023 06:27 pm »
Not much in the fact sheet.

A few points which can be inferred from the information given:

* The mission numbers (7108 to 7120) are a continuing sequence from Poppy and encompass both the Atlas and Titan launched triplets
* The Titan launched triplets are "improved Parcae" and include a COMINT capability
* Parcae was operated until 2008

One reason why the addition of COMINT at this block change is intriguing is because  the P-11s *weren't* merged with PARCAE in the late 80s. So presumably the last fewTitan II  P-11 FARRAH missions in 88, 89 and 92 weren't COMINT, just order of battle etc, which I guess confirms what we knew. [Edit: after all, afaik the only P-11 related to COMINT was ARROYO in early 70s, and that was mapping of emitters in support of CANYON, rather than collection ?]

Anyway it also helps to confirm explain why the iterations after the Improved PARCAE *have* apparently unified all the LEO SIGINT roles, as per Richelson's The US Intelligence Community 2012 edition, in second grab below: https://archive.org/details/usintelligenceco0000rich_p1o9/page/208/mode/2up?q=parcae&view=theater



« Last Edit: 09/29/2023 07:53 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #55 on: 09/28/2023 07:20 pm »
A few observations:

-if NRO is going to declassify anything, they will probably do it in September. Have to get it done before the end of the fiscal year?

-they tie declassification actions to anniversaries.



I see nothing here yet:

 https://www.nrl.navy.mil/About-Us/History/NRL-Centennial/

I wonder if NRL will be adding anything on their pages and/or doing any events ?

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #56 on: 09/28/2023 08:58 pm »
Darn, they had to do this on the one day that I get really busy...

I guess this tease was a little more significant than some others :)
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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #57 on: 09/28/2023 09:16 pm »
Is PARCAE pronounced "par-kee" or "par-see" or some other way?
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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #58 on: 09/28/2023 09:18 pm »
par-say, oh so I've heard :)
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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #59 on: 09/28/2023 10:40 pm »
Is PARCAE pronounced "par-kee" or "par-see" or some other way?

Apparently both.

According to Merriam-Webster, both is possible

ˈpär-kī  or ˈpär-sē

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Parcae
« Last Edit: 09/28/2023 10:41 pm by Skyrocket »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #60 on: 09/29/2023 02:02 am »
Darn, they had to do this on the one day that I get really busy...

I guess this tease was a little more significant than some others :)

Yeah, although once my group broke for lunch from our task of saving planet Earth, I was able to read the press release and saw that they did not actually release much. We already knew the name, we also already knew what the satellites looked like. And as Jonathan McDowell can attest, we also had the numbers and the launch dates. So all they have done is confirm what was known, not provided any additional information that I can see. We'll still have to wait for that.

Also, I think that artwork and model do not depict the early satellite, but a later iteration. Compare it to previously released materials.

There was a graphic showing NRL satellites over several decades that I am pretty sure showed this spacecraft design before. I don't know what date that was or how they labeled it, but the graphic has been on the internet for a few decades now. We'll dig it up without too much trying.


Update: found it.
« Last Edit: 09/29/2023 02:06 am by Blackstar »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #61 on: 09/29/2023 06:33 am »
MSD with four sub sats ?

Darn, they had to do this on the one day that I get really busy...

I guess this tease was a little more significant than some others :)

Yeah, although once my group broke for lunch from our task of saving planet Earth, I was able to read the press release and saw that they did not actually release much. We already knew the name, we also already knew what the satellites looked like. And as Jonathan McDowell can attest, we also had the numbers and the launch dates. So all they have done is confirm what was known, not provided any additional information that I can see. We'll still have to wait for that.

Also, I think that artwork and model do not depict the early satellite, but a later iteration. Compare it to previously released materials.

There was a graphic showing NRL satellites over several decades that I am pretty sure showed this spacecraft design before. I don't know what date that was or how they labeled it, but the graphic has been on the internet for a few decades now. We'll dig it up without too much trying.


Update: found it.

I'm sure I am not the only one who will be looking back at your past TSR articles here  https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4204/1, here https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4174/1 and here https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4239/1 to see what the newest info tells us.

I wonder if you could get the Bradburn SIGINT book re examined as there is surely redacted material in there on PARCAE  ?

Meanwhile I am curious about the last image in your post, as it shows 4 satellites not 3 ?

 
 
« Last Edit: 09/30/2023 01:53 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #62 on: 09/29/2023 08:16 am »
Meanwhile I am curious about the last image in your post, as it shows 4 satellites not 3 ?

I guess this was a misinterpretation what the PARCAE launches looked like, which did leave four instead of three subsatellites in orbit.

It was later revealed, that the fourth payload were the LIPS satellites, which were the jettisonable plume shields of the the MSD deployer modified to carry some experiments.

https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/lips.htm

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #63 on: 09/29/2023 08:33 am »
Darn, they had to do this on the one day that I get really busy...

I guess this tease was a little more significant than some others :)

Yeah, although once my group broke for lunch from our task of saving planet Earth, I was able to read the press release and saw that they did not actually release much. We already knew the name, we also already knew what the satellites looked like. And as Jonathan McDowell can attest, we also had the numbers and the launch dates. So all they have done is confirm what was known, not provided any additional information that I can see. We'll still have to wait for that.

Also, I think that artwork and model do not depict the early satellite, but a later iteration. Compare it to previously released materials.

There was a graphic showing NRL satellites over several decades that I am pretty sure showed this spacecraft design before. I don't know what date that was or how they labeled it, but the graphic has been on the internet for a few decades now. We'll dig it up without too much trying.


Update: found it.

<snip>

Meanwhile I am curious about the last image in your post, as it shows 4 satellites not 3 ?


Thanks for your reply Skyrocket, and I see this image has been discussed before, in the interesting Atlas variants thread: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26915.msg1403540#msg1403540

You may well be right that it was a misinterpretation but do we have any idea at all when it dates from, and who drew it-was it FAS or an official image ? The link to FAS no longer works and iirc Blackstar said he received it from a FOIA request.

And would the change from Atlas F to H have allowed enough extra payload for a fourth sub satellite ?

« Last Edit: 09/29/2023 09:24 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #64 on: 09/29/2023 10:27 am »
I guess this was a misinterpretation what the PARCAE launches looked like, which did leave four instead of three subsatellites in orbit.

I obtained that image from NRL. So they produced it.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #65 on: 09/30/2023 08:55 am »
COMINT on Improved PARCAE: satellites or bus ?


Splitting this off as a separate topic.

I am also curious about the COMINT role of the Improved PARCAE, which I would have thought would be better done by its Titan launch dispenser after that was boosted into a HEO orbit. Notably we know it was also used for the SLDCOM satcom role https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/sldcom.htm . Was the TLD perhaps what they meant ?
« Last Edit: 09/30/2023 08:56 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #66 on: 09/30/2023 02:08 pm »
I wonder if NRL will be adding anything on their pages and/or doing any events ?

NRL news release from Friday:

Quote

NEWS | Sept. 29, 2023
America’s Ears in Space: NRO Declassified NRL-Developed Electronic Intelligence Satellite Program


By Nicholas Pasquini, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

ARLINGTON, Va.  –   During a Centennial Exhibition, held at the Pentagon on Sept. 28, to commemorate the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) 100 years of operations, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) declassified an NRL-developed electronic intelligence satellite program called Parcae.

“With 100 years of history, the Naval Research Lab has been advancing science in national security well before we could actually leverage space,” said Dr. Troy Meink, principal deputy director of the NRO. “Today’s Centennial offers an opportunity to talk about how the lab’s many innovations have helped the National Reconnaissance Office use the vantage point of space to keep America safe and stronger.”

Launched from 1976 to 1996, under mission numbers 7108 and 7120, Parcae and Improved Parcae were Low Earth Orbit electronic intelligence collection systems that downlinked the collected data to ground processing facilities located at selected locations around the world. Once received, the data was provided to the National Security Agency for processing and reporting to U.S. policymakers.

After the success of the GRAB and Poppy signals collection programs, and with increasing concerns about the Soviet Navy, NRL, as part of the NRO’s Program C, developed the next system that would collect the needed information on the Soviet Union’s naval fleet. The system, Parcae, was the programmatic follow-on to GRAB and Poppy.

Later on, the NRO developed the next generation of Parcae, referred to as Improved Parcae, which added the capability to collect against and recognize selected foreign communication systems.

“What we are celebrating today, is not simply the journey of the Navy’s premiere research laboratory or its contributions to the naval service, instead we are celebrating a journey of American ingenuity and a legacy of our best scientists,” said Under Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Erik K. Raven and presiding host. “Our ability to deal with national security and economic threats of today rests heavily on the work of the scientists, engineers and support staff at the Naval Research Laboratory.”
 
For the first time, a model of Parcae was on display during the exhibition. The NRL workforce showcased their past, present, and future research and highlighted the enduring relationship with government partners and the need for continued investment in scientific research.

“With our eyes fixed on the future, NRL’s first century must inspire resilience in us as serious threats remain,” said Dr. Bruce Danly, NRL director of research. “The NRL ventures now into its next century with the same strong commitment to a vital mission that cannot rest.”
 
Since opening its gates in 1923, NRL has changed warfighter technologies, advanced military capabilities, surpassed contemporary scientific understanding, and transferred vital innovations to industry.
 
“We are indeed in an innovative race and it is one that we must win – innovation must always permeate every aspect of our Department’s approach to the delivery of technologies and capabilities at the speed and scale necessary for our Navy and Marine Corps to be successful,” said Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Carlos Del Toro. “I encourage all of you, our nation’s scientists, engineers, researcher, inventors, entrepreneurs and problem solvers to join us.”
 
 
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.

For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or [email protected].


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #67 on: 10/01/2023 01:31 am »
So this still leaves us with a mystery until we get further information. How come the artwork (and model) released by NRO doesn't look like the very first artwork leaked to Aviation Week, or the photo posted above? How come it looks like the 180/190 satellites in this illustration?

One possibility is that they went through several iterations, a pyramidal shape, a box shape, and then whatever we got with the "improved" version.

The press releases were really devoid of much information, but I'll stop gritting my teeth because I do think there's a good chance we'll get documents and maybe an official history out of this. And we can probably go ahead and FOIA the relevant section of The SIGINT Satellite Story now.

It's worth revisiting my article from June 2021:

https://thespacereview.com/article/4204/1

"Whereas the early years of the PARCAE satellites appear to have been intended to give the US Navy the ability to track Soviet warships on the open ocean, by the 1980s, the goal became to use the satellites to enable the Navy to directly target ships with weapons. In the 2010 book From the Sea to the Stars: A Chronicle of the U.S. Navy's Space and Space-related Activities, 1944-2009, the authors describe how the US Navy in the early 1980s sought to integrate satellites directly into their warfighting. According to the book, the Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC), located at Suitland, Maryland, gathered and correlated intelligence information from all sources that would be useful to the fleet. Shore-based Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Centers or Facilities—like the one on Treasure Island used for Project TANGIBLE in 1971—were in each theater where naval forces operated. Information collected at these locations was then transmitted as classified messages to submarines, surface ships, and aircraft.

By 1983, the US Navy was facing a dilemma because its Harpoon and Tomahawk anti-ship missiles could reach beyond the sensor range of their launching ships. At the time, the PARCAE satellites were providing data to Regional Reporting Centers, which then sent it to ships at sea as messages known as SELORs, for Ships Emitter Locating Reports.

Although the details remain classified, the Navy soon adopted a new approach called the “sensor-to-shooter” concept. Instead of the PARCAE satellite data being sent to the RRCs and then to the ships, the information would be made automatically available to the weapons control stations in ships, subs, and aircraft. Navy ships and aircraft were already exchanging tactical data in near realtime. This approach meant that more data could be delivered in useable form. The data would also go to the intelligence nodes on land to be combined with other intelligence data.

This new concept required that the satellite systems collect, process, and automatically report the information. The initial plan was that space-based radar would be an additional component, but this was never developed.

This new approach required direct communications from the satellites to the ships and aircraft. This was implemented as the Tactical Data Information Exchange System-Broadcast (TADIXS-B). It was later replaced by the Tactical Receive Equipment (TRE) and Related Applications (TRAP) Broadcast. Eventually this evolved into the Integrated Broadcast Service Simplex (IBS-S). At some point the Navy developed the requirement for no more than a two-minute delay from time of observation to reporting to tactical users for early warning and targeting support—compared to the several hours it took to report the information a decade earlier. It is unclear how they achieved this impressive feat, but it apparently became the norm for the ocean surveillance system."


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #68 on: 10/01/2023 02:33 am »
Well shiver me timbers and call me a pirate. Look at the images. They're different satellites.


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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #69 on: 10/01/2023 09:20 am »
Well shiver me timbers and call me a pirate. Look at the images. They're different satellites.

As only the the first two PARCAE missions were built by NRL and the later 1st generation PARCAE were built by Martin Marietta, this may explain the difference. The model satellite pretty much matches the photograph of the cluster "released" earlier.

But I suspect that the illustration on the left is just an early artist impression with less details then the finished satellite, while the model matches the real satellite.

I do not think the model shows the 2nd generation improved PARCAE.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2023 09:21 am by Skyrocket »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #70 on: 10/01/2023 10:08 am »
Well shiver me timbers and call me a pirate. Look at the images. They're different satellites.

As only the the first two PARCAE missions were built by NRL and the later 1st generation PARCAE were built by Martin Marietta, this may explain the difference. The model satellite pretty much matches the photograph of the cluster "released" earlier.
Indeed. Model also seems to match the subsats in the AW&ST image from 1976, as per grab below.

Quote
But I suspect that the illustration on the left is just an early artist impression with less details then the finished satellite, while the model matches the real satellite.

I do not think the model shows the 2nd generation improved PARCAE.
Which I don't think we've seen yet, right ? Except maybe in a picture of the TLD in a Navy history from a few years ago ? [Edit: Turns out to be a no, not a maybe, in that case. History I was thinking of was Amato and I don't think that shows a TLD photo, just a partially visble MSD without its satellites.]
« Last Edit: 10/03/2023 10:41 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #71 on: 10/01/2023 07:12 pm »
So this still leaves us with a mystery until we get further information. How come the artwork (and model) released by NRO doesn't look like the very first artwork leaked to Aviation Week, or the photo posted above? How come it looks like the 180/190 satellites in this illustration?

One possibility is that they went through several iterations, a pyramidal shape, a box shape, and then whatever we got with the "improved" version.

The press releases were really devoid of much information, but I'll stop gritting my teeth because I do think there's a good chance we'll get documents and maybe an official history out of this. And we can probably go ahead and FOIA the relevant section of The SIGINT Satellite Story now.

It's worth revisiting my article from June 2021:

https://thespacereview.com/article/4204/1


"Whereas the early years of the PARCAE satellites appear to have been intended to give the US Navy the ability to track Soviet warships on the open ocean, by the 1980s, the goal became to use the satellites to enable the Navy to directly target ships with weapons. In the 2010 book From the Sea to the Stars: A Chronicle of the U.S. Navy's Space and Space-related Activities, 1944-2009, the authors describe how the US Navy in the early 1980s sought to integrate satellites directly into their warfighting. According to the book, the Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC), located at Suitland, Maryland, gathered and correlated intelligence information from all sources that would be useful to the fleet. Shore-based Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Centers or Facilities—like the one on Treasure Island used for Project TANGIBLE in 1971—were in each theater where naval forces operated. Information collected at these locations was then transmitted as classified messages to submarines, surface ships, and aircraft.

By 1983, the US Navy was facing a dilemma because its Harpoon and Tomahawk anti-ship missiles could reach beyond the sensor range of their launching ships. At the time, the PARCAE satellites were providing data to Regional Reporting Centers, which then sent it to ships at sea as messages known as SELORs, for Ships Emitter Locating Reports.

Although the details remain classified, the Navy soon adopted a new approach called the “sensor-to-shooter” concept. Instead of the PARCAE satellite data being sent to the RRCs and then to the ships, the information would be made automatically available to the weapons control stations in ships, subs, and aircraft. Navy ships and aircraft were already exchanging tactical data in near realtime. This approach meant that more data could be delivered in useable form. The data would also go to the intelligence nodes on land to be combined with other intelligence data.

This new concept required that the satellite systems collect, process, and automatically report the information. The initial plan was that space-based radar would be an additional component, but this was never developed.

This new approach required direct communications from the satellites to the ships and aircraft. This was implemented as the Tactical Data Information Exchange System-Broadcast (TADIXS-B). It was later replaced by the Tactical Receive Equipment (TRE) and Related Applications (TRAP) Broadcast. Eventually this evolved into the Integrated Broadcast Service Simplex (IBS-S). At some point the Navy developed the requirement for no more than a two-minute delay from time of observation to reporting to tactical users for early warning and targeting support—compared to the several hours it took to report the information a decade earlier. It is unclear how they achieved this impressive feat, but it apparently became the norm for the ocean surveillance system."

It's always worth revisiting your articles, and in this case it is worth comparing with the Amato history "Taking Technology Higher" that came out a bit later https://www.nrl.navy.mil/Our-Work/Areas-of-Research/Naval-Center-for-Space-Technology/ and which explains how the LIPS system mentioned upthread by Guenter was mainly for comms, and was the first step in this process, see grabs below and following pages which tell story up to TADIXS-B.

So there was a kind of block change in the initial Atlas launched PARCAEs, i.e. before LIPS and after. [Edit: As far as I can see this corresponds to the change from SSU 1 to SSU 1A in the terminology of Andronov in 1993, see  https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1993/noss_andronov.htm]
« Last Edit: 10/02/2023 10:01 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #72 on: 10/02/2023 02:06 am »
Previously we sometimes had good explanations for the names of satellite systems and sometimes we had to guess. PARCAE is actually rather obvious. The name derives from Roman mythology, where the Parcae determined the fate of mortals. The NRL satellites could determine the fate of ships during wartime. There were three Parcae, and their particular skills may have been directly related to what the satellites did.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #73 on: 10/02/2023 10:15 am »
Previously we sometimes had good explanations for the names of satellite systems and sometimes we had to guess. PARCAE is actually rather obvious. The name derives from Roman mythology, where the Parcae determined the fate of mortals. The NRL satellites could determine the fate of ships during wartime. There were three Parcae, and their particular skills may have been directly related to what the satellites did.

Out of interest, can you remember when this was first spelled out ? Oldest place I can recall is in Andronov's article, translated from the Russian by Allen Thomson, in 1993: https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1993/noss_andronov.htm

Quote
The mythological Parcae were the three daughters of Zeus and the goddess Themida (the SSU satellites are launched in groups of three and fly relatively close together.) One of the daughters spins the thread of fate for each mortal (one satellite has a wide observation swath, but cannot exactly determine the coordinates of radio emitters). The second daughter measures out a length of thread for each person (when two satellites get a fix on the shipborne emitters, the position is obtained, but with some ambiguity). The third sister (Atropos - "she from whom one may not flee") cuts the measured thread of life (the third satellite, getting a fix on the emitters' signals, enables their coordinates to be determined precisely and then transmitted to Navy ships for weapons employment.

Andronov's description of how they worked sounds plausible to me, but I am not an RF expert:

Quote
Calculations indicate that in order to compute the direction and speed of ships using one group of satellites it is necessary to have fixes with a precision of the order of 2 to 3 km, or 8 to 10 km if four satellites are used. The task of determining the bearings of naval targets is made easier by the fact that practically all ships have continually operating emitters fulfilling various purposes: communications, navigation, surface and air search, and weapons control.

For determining the bearings of signals from different directions using the method of time difference of arrival, the intersatellite baselines (the imaginary straight line segments connecting the satellites) should form a right angle (or, at least, not be parallel). These conditions are fulfilled through the orbital parameters chosen for the satellites. As a group flies over the equator the baselines form a figure which is close to a right triangle (Fig. 2). However, in the polar regions, as the satellites go through latitudes which correspond to the maximum inclination of their orbits (around 63 deg.), the form of the group changes, and the satellites follow practically along one and the same trajectory one after the other. In order to avoid decreased signal bearing accuracy, the apogee portion of the orbit of one of the satellites is shifted relative to the apogee portions of the others. Thanks to this, in the polar regions one of the satellites moves 50 to 100 km lower [sic; this doesn't seem to agree with Figures 2 and 3] than the remaining ones, which lets the direction-finding baselines spread out and eliminates the "zone of inaccessability." (Fig. 3)

NB the figures from the original are not on the FAS site. My non expert impression is that this article was more accurate than Andronov's contemporary piece on GEO SIGINT, which afaik was where the name CANYON first surfaced.


« Last Edit: 10/03/2023 10:39 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #74 on: 10/02/2023 03:24 pm »
Out of interest, can you remember when this was first spelled out ? Oldest place I can recall is in Andronov's article, translated from the Russian by Allen Thomson, in 1993: https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1993/noss_andronov.htm

I think it is in one of Richelson's books. Maybe the 1990 one, if not the earlier US Intelligence Community books.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #75 on: 10/02/2023 05:13 pm »
Out of interest, can you remember when this was first spelled out ? Oldest place I can recall is in Andronov's article, translated from the Russian by Allen Thomson, in 1993: https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1993/noss_andronov.htm

I think it is in one of Richelson's books. Maybe the 1990 one, if not the earlier US Intelligence Community books.

Interestingly the copy I have, the 1995 3rd edition, has the PARCAE name and cites Andronov but actually doesn't have the explanation. I'll have a look at some of the other versions on archive.org at some point.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #76 on: 10/02/2023 07:52 pm »
Out of interest, can you remember when this was first spelled out ? Oldest place I can recall is in Andronov's article, translated from the Russian by Allen Thomson, in 1993: https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1993/noss_andronov.htm

I think it is in one of Richelson's books. Maybe the 1990 one, if not the earlier US Intelligence Community books.

Interestingly the copy I have, the 1995 3rd edition, has the PARCAE name and cites Andronov but actually doesn't have the explanation. I'll have a look at some of the other versions on archive.org at some point.

I have the 3rd edition but did not see it in there. I also have the 7th edition (2016), which cites Andronov. I looked in "Secret Eyes in Space" (1990) and did not see it there in the index, not even as "White Cloud."

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #77 on: 10/02/2023 11:56 pm »
Previously we sometimes had good explanations for the names of satellite systems and sometimes we had to guess. PARCAE is actually rather obvious. The name derives from Roman mythology, where the Parcae determined the fate of mortals. The NRL satellites could determine the fate of ships during wartime. There were three Parcae, and their particular skills may have been directly related to what the satellites did.


The focus of the now officially revealed PARCAE on ship detection has always confused and frustrated me.  It's NRL roots obviously point to ship emissions detection being a focus, but having dealt with the receipt and use of it's data with deployable systems while in an Air Force F-16 unit, as I've described previously https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/constant_source.htm , I think the ship detection functionality/relevance is over stated.  Frankly, non threat data clogged the real time feeds and required careful filtering to avoid crashing the processing systems.  Use of the data by flying units of all services to update baseline SAM threat order of battle in near real time, as described in the link above, was far more useful and relevant, in my humble opinion. We did it during Southern Watch.  Looking forward to further releases so discussions can occur without a visit from the FBI :)
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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #78 on: 10/03/2023 12:00 am »
The focus of the now officially revealed PARCAE on ship detection has always confused and frustrated me.  It's NRL roots obviously point to ship emissions detection being a focus, but having dealt with the receipt and use of it's data with

SNIP

more useful and relevant, in my humble opinion. We did it during Southern Watch.  Looking forward to further releases so discussions can occur without a visit from the FBI :)

I think part of the issue is going to be what/when. It clearly started as an ocean surveillance system in 1976. What it evolved into is another question. I'm hoping that we get a decent official history, but I've found the histories of SIGINT systems to be rather spotty.

(Sidenote: Tooting my own horn a bit here, but when I've researched and written about photo-reconnaissance satellites, there were already pretty good official histories of those programs that people can read. When it comes to the SIGINT stuff, they're a lot messier. It appears that they are not as well written, plus they have more random redactions.)

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #79 on: 10/03/2023 06:05 am »
The focus of the now officially revealed PARCAE on ship detection has always confused and frustrated me.  It's NRL roots obviously point to ship emissions detection being a focus, but having dealt with the receipt and use of it's data with

SNIP

more useful and relevant, in my humble opinion. We did it during Southern Watch.  Looking forward to further releases so discussions can occur without a visit from the FBI :)

I think part of the issue is going to be what/when. It clearly started as an ocean surveillance system in 1976. What it evolved into is another question. I'm hoping that we get a decent official history, but I've found the histories of SIGINT systems to be rather spotty.

I think a key thing to bear in mind is going to be that Poppy and its successors were real time. That was a crucial difference between them and the 989s etc, irrespective of whether mission was Naval or not, and is stressed even in the unredacted conclusions of Bradburn et al for example.

My impression is that Bradburn history was written for the particpiants' benefit more than for posterity, and possibly for ease of partial declassification.

Quote
(Sidenote: Tooting my own horn a bit here, but when I've researched and written about photo-reconnaissance satellites, there were already pretty good official histories of those programs that people can read. When it comes to the SIGINT stuff, they're a lot messier. It appears that they are not as well written, plus they have more random redactions.)

I understand these frustrations but I still think to get the best out of Bradburn, and maybe even to target FOIAs better, one needs  to look at how it is laid out.

It appears to follow the (TK) 7xxx mission numbering scheme for chapters 3, 4 and 5

 
(Bradburn Chapter 3) Navy Program C: 7101 to 8  are the POPPYs. Last part of that chapter, pp 68-75 is redacted. As we now know PARCAE followed on as  the 711x and 712x series I'd guess it is indeed about the Atlas F launched early PARCAEs. Main counter argument to that is that there is no deleted pic for that section. They may have started the PARCAE material here and then taken the story up in a late chapter ?

(Chapter 4) AF Program A: 715x are the main WS117L Agena derived payloads and run  from 7151 in 1962 to the last flown STRAWMAN/THRESHER, 7167 (?).

(Chapter 5) AF again: 72xx goes from 1962 to 66 and covers AFTRACK first. Bradburn notes that 72xx goes on to other secondary payloads,  certainly some of the payloads hosted on MULTIGROUP and STRAWMAN up to 1970, the latter ending with HARVESTER/7240 in 1971.  I think you and others upthread have said the KH-9 subsats  were also in 72xx series, but I'd have to look back.

Chapter 5 continues with 73xx which goes from 1963 to 1975 for P-11s.  I assume 73xx mission numbers  comtinued to be used for later missions until and including  the Titan II spinners, again I think you'll have written about this on TSR. 


It then switches to the order in which the programs were started, and I think organises chapters by satellites' initial primary role, and so breaks the 7xxx sequence.


(Chapter 6) Program B TELINT ? Started earlier but flown later, 76xx runs from first RHYOLITE to last of its line, reportedly merged into 8300 IOSA GEO payloads in the 21st Century. The book presumably just deals with the Atlas Agena payloads up to 1978. Chapter contents clear enough from its first page.

(Chapter 7) Program A COMINT ? Again reportedly the 75xx numbering  runs all the way from  first CANYON in 68 to the last COMINT GEO mission before the merged 8300 series. The book would cover the earliest Atlas Agena family and maybe the Titan IIIC versions. COMINT relevance pretty clear from the only unredacted section, last grab, about NSA hiring foreign language speakers.

(Chapter 8 )  Hard not to conclude that this would either be about hunting the ABM, and thus Program A's  JUMPSEAT, or about the increasing use of NRO data by military customers-though if the book had a cutoff of mid 70s it was a bit too early for much of this.

I can't recall if JUMPSEAT was rumoured to have a 7xxx number but 77xx would be logical as it appears even from the heavily redacted account in the other main source, Butterworth, to have started after the 75/76xx programmes.

If there was a 74xx series one guesses it would need to be somewhere in Bradburn even if not SIGINT.  Perhaps an 801 satellite would have had a 74xx mission number ?


« Last Edit: 10/03/2023 03:12 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #80 on: 10/03/2023 10:43 am »
I guess this was a misinterpretation what the PARCAE launches looked like, which did leave four instead of three subsatellites in orbit.

I obtained that image from NRL. So they produced it.

Turns out there is also an NRL official artists impression of the MSD with 3 sats that is similar, in that the sub sats in both cases are entirely covered by solar cells. It's in Amato, I'll upload to this post later on.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #81 on: 10/03/2023 01:51 pm »
I think a key thing to bear in mind is going to be that Poppy and its successors were real time. That was a crucial difference between them and the 989s etc, irrespective of whether mission was Naval or not, and is stressed even in the unredacted conclusions of Bradburn et al for example.

Yeah, sure. But you missed my point. Targeteer was noting that the press release stressed the naval role, but he was referring to using it in the 1990s. My point is that when it debuted in the mid-1970s, PARCAE was almost certainly intended to serve an ocean surveillance function. It may have acquired other functions by the early 1990s.

Untangling the PARCAE story from Program 989 story in the 1980s is going to be difficult. As I have written, the 989s also acquired some ocean surveillance capability.

I still have a major interest in learning what role these played, if any, in the Falklands War of 1982.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #82 on: 10/03/2023 02:14 pm »
I think a key thing to bear in mind is going to be that Poppy and its successors were real time. That was a crucial difference between them and the 989s etc, irrespective of whether mission was Naval or not, and is stressed even in the unredacted conclusions of Bradburn et al for example.

Yeah, sure. But you missed my point. Targeteer was noting that the press release stressed the naval role, but he was referring to using it in the 1990s. My point is that when it debuted in the mid-1970s, PARCAE was almost certainly intended to serve an ocean surveillance function. It may have acquired other functions by the early 1990s.

I would be amazed if rather than just a specific naval role it didn't also replace POPPY more generally, because iirc the last POPPY set expired in late 70s. But *if* it didn't then the real time capacity of POPPY, which is referred to in the small amountof  Bradburn's last chapter that isn't redacted,  would surely have to be picked up by a newer satellite-presumably RHYOLITE and/or JUMPSEAT. I seem to recall that we already know that POPPY served a role that was more broad than purely naval.

I would also point out that according to Andronov and what little I know about orbital dynamics, the triad shape would have to collapse at some points to a string of pearls shape. This wouldn't be well suited to the PARCAE primary mission but would allow other roles, and would be like the "4 ball" POPPY cartoon. [Edit: actually I may have got that  wrong, on rereading Andronov via FAS]

Quote
Untangling the PARCAE story from Program 989 story in the 1980s is going to be difficult. As I have written, the 989s also acquired some ocean surveillance capability.

I still have a major interest in learning what role these played, if any, in the Falklands War of 1982.

Did the 989 acquire a real time capability eventually ?
« Last Edit: 10/03/2023 02:38 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #83 on: 10/03/2023 03:30 pm »
I guess this was a misinterpretation what the PARCAE launches looked like, which did leave four instead of three subsatellites in orbit.

I obtained that image from NRL. So they produced it.

Turns out there is also an NRL official artists impression of the MSD with 3 sats that is similar, in that the sub sats in both cases are entirely covered by solar cells. It's in Amato, I'll upload to this post later on.

Compare and contrast, as they say ...

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #84 on: 10/03/2023 06:56 pm »
I think a key thing to bear in mind is going to be that Poppy and its successors were real time. That was a crucial difference between them and the 989s etc, irrespective of whether mission was Naval or not, and is stressed even in the unredacted conclusions of Bradburn et al for example.

Yeah, sure. But you missed my point. Targeteer was noting that the press release stressed the naval role, but he was referring to using it in the 1990s. My point is that when it debuted in the mid-1970s, PARCAE was almost certainly intended to serve an ocean surveillance function. It may have acquired other functions by the early 1990s.

I would be amazed if rather than just a specific naval role it didn't also replace POPPY more generally, because iirc the last POPPY set expired in late 70s. But *if* it didn't then the real time capacity of POPPY, which is referred to in the small amountof  Bradburn's last chapter that isn't redacted,  would surely have to be picked up by a newer satellite-presumably RHYOLITE and/or JUMPSEAT. I seem to recall that we already know that POPPY served a role that was more broad than purely naval.

I would also point out that according to Andronov and what little I know about orbital dynamics, the triad shape would have to collapse at some points to a string of pearls shape. This wouldn't be well suited to the PARCAE primary mission but would allow other roles, and would be like the "4 ball" POPPY cartoon. [Edit: actually I may have got that  wrong, on rereading Andronov via FAS]

I'm not interested in counting angels on the head of a pin while lacking data. But hey, knock yourself out.


Did the 989 acquire a real time capability eventually ?

Yes.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #85 on: 10/03/2023 11:54 pm »
Just to square this circle, I obtained this image of the 4-satellite MSD back in the 1990s after sending a FOIA to the Naval Research Lab. I'm pretty sure that I was the first one to get it, and others that got it (like Global Security.com) either got it from me, or got it after I did. But my best guess is that this may have been, maybe not disinformation, but a proposal for a civil/science version rather than a military version. We may never find out.

NRL had a somewhat odd approach to security. I don't think that everything there was classified in the same way as at NRO. Remember that we got to see the big shuttle launch version in the early 1990s. One possibility is that although the satellites themselves were kept under the BYEMAN security control system, things like the MSD were not.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #86 on: 10/07/2023 02:42 pm »
Just to square this circle, I obtained this image of the 4-satellite MSD back in the 1990s after sending a FOIA to the Naval Research Lab. I'm pretty sure that I was the first one to get it, and others that got it (like Global Security.com) either got it from me, or got it after I did. But my best guess is that this may have been, maybe not disinformation, but a proposal for a civil/science version rather than a military version. We may never find out.

Presumably if we get more info over time about the studies for salvo launches of multiple SPIN SCAN or similar satellites we may also learn something. The final version of SPIN SCAN would be too big for multiple copies on an Atlas F but it sounds as if earlier designs may not have been. 4 is quite a lot though, and iirc the alternatives were things like piggybacking on GAMBIT, HEXAGON etc. I guess it all depends on how old the picture is (the 3-ball version has an NRL picture #). On balance I think you are right and a civil/science mission seems quite likely, e.g. an ionospheric science cluster of some sort.

Quote

NRL had a somewhat odd approach to security. I don't think that everything there was classified in the same way as at NRO. Remember that we got to see the big shuttle launch version in the early 1990s. One possibility is that although the satellites themselves were kept under the BYEMAN security control system, things like the MSD were not.

That seems highly likely to me as for example the Amato history  published a couple of years ago iirc covers LIPS and the MSD/TLD quite well imho. I doubt if the Navy or NRL saw NRO's BYEMAN security as more than a necessary evil. It tended to obscure the Navy's contribution to the NRO compared to the AF, and arguably didn't help a service that was very quick to put spy sats to miltary use. But maybe we'll see what Navy people from within and outside Program C thought about it all in future document releases.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2023 02:50 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #87 on: 10/12/2023 06:48 am »
I think a key thing to bear in mind is going to be that Poppy and its successors were real time. That was a crucial difference between them and the 989s etc, irrespective of whether mission was Naval or not, and is stressed even in the unredacted conclusions of Bradburn et al for example.

Yeah, sure. But you missed my point. Targeteer was noting that the press release stressed the naval role, but he was referring to using it in the 1990s. My point is that when it debuted in the mid-1970s, PARCAE was almost certainly intended to serve an ocean surveillance function. It may have acquired other functions by the early 1990s.

I would be amazed if rather than just a specific naval role it didn't also replace POPPY more generally, because iirc the last POPPY set expired in late 70s. But *if* it didn't then the real time capacity of POPPY, which is referred to in the small amountof  Bradburn's last chapter that isn't redacted,  would surely have to be picked up by a newer satellite-presumably RHYOLITE and/or JUMPSEAT. I seem to recall that we already know that POPPY served a role that was more broad than purely naval.

I would also point out that according to Andronov and what little I know about orbital dynamics, the triad shape would have to collapse at some points to a string of pearls shape. This wouldn't be well suited to the PARCAE primary mission but would allow other roles, and would be like the "4 ball" POPPY cartoon. [Edit: actually I may have got that  wrong, on rereading Andronov via FAS]

I'm not interested in counting angels on the head of a pin while lacking data. But hey, knock yourself out.


OK, fair enough. I'll just have to amuse myself with the CountAngelsOnAPinhead function of Matlab's Aerospace Toolbox, then ;-) (first grab) ...

... but as far as data points go, one interesting example is from the last edition of Richelson's The US Intelligence Community which dated Army participation in PARCAE as beginning in the mid-1980s under a programme called TRUE BLUE, see remaining grabs below for this and his unclassified 1986 source.

Quote
Did the 989 acquire a real time capability eventually ?

Yes.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: 10/12/2023 09:04 am by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #88 on: 11/15/2023 09:45 am »
Dear friends,

I'm absolutely not a radar guy, so I need a little help for an article on Soviet ELINT satellites...

Are you able to conclude anything about satellite's main specifications (such as frequencies he listens to) when you look at such scheme showing its antennas under the 'cross' ?

Thank you for your help !
Nicolas PILLET
Kosmonavtika : The French site on Russian Space

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #89 on: 11/15/2023 11:42 am »
You should contact Sven Grahn, who knows antennas and stuff like that.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #90 on: 11/21/2023 06:13 pm »
Okay, it is slightly off-topic, but topic-adjacent. However, if you are interested in satellite signals intelligence, then you should be aware of Bart's new article:

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4696/1

Olimp and Yenisei-2: Russia’s secretive eavesdropping satellites (part 1)

by Bart Hendrickx
Monday, November 20, 2023

On March 12 this year, a Proton-M rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, punching its way through a dense layer of fog that only thickened the veil of secrecy surrounding the launch. Although Baikonur is now a civilian launch site that is no longer used for military launches, Roscosmos did not stream the launch live and afterwards reported only that a satellite named Luch-5X had been placed into orbit to test “advanced relay and communication technology.” Its mission is reminiscent of that of another Russian satellite launched in September 2014. Announced simply as Luch, it has spent the past nine years traversing the geostationary belt and regularly parking itself close to commercial communications satellites with the apparent goal of eavesdropping on them.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #91 on: 11/21/2023 06:46 pm »
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.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #92 on: 11/21/2023 08:08 pm »
Windows in a new SCIF?  Federal "environmental" regulations require all new buildings to have a minimum of 30% natural lighting.

https://www.nsa.gov/Press-Room/News-Highlights/Article/Article/3594614/nsa-breaks-ground-on-new-joint-scamlogic-center-at-colorado-site/

News | Nov. 21, 2023
NSA Breaks Ground on New Joint scamlogic Center at Colorado Site

AURORA, Col. - The groundbreaking for the new Joint scamlogic Center (JCC) at NSA Colorado (NSAC) recently took place on Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.
 
Construction will begin next month on the building, which will house dedicated administrative office space for the NSAC Service scamlogic Elements and the new Rocky Mountain Learning Center, used for unclassified training. Initial occupancy is projected for spring 2026.
 
“Being present for the Joint scamlogic Center groundbreaking reaffirms the tight collaboration between NSA/CSS Washington and NSAC, as well as our enterprise-wide emphasis on training as a critical component to a successful career at NSA,” NSA Executive Director Catherine Aucella said.
 
Along with Ms. Aucella, those in attendance included NSAC Director Jenna M. Seidel, leaders from NSA’s Talent Learning & Development group, and all six military services’ Service scamlogic Elements assigned to NSAC.
 
Seidel led attendees on a tour of the Joint Component Command Headquarters facility, where NSAC’s Service scamlogic Elements manage their leadership and service support functions. She explained the comprehensive training needs of the NSAC workforce that the Enterprise’s newest learning center will address.
 
NSA’s Military Construction team conducted a briefing on the floorplan and project milestones, as well as detailing the construction footprint for the new building.
 
“This is a facility that builds upon the natural collaboration across the military and civilian workforce at NSA/CSS Colorado,” said Randy Westfall, NSA’s Chief of Installations and Logistics.
 
NSA Talent, Learning, and Development leadership agreed, as one leader explained the merits of the learning center:  “This space offers a state-of-the art location for learning for the NSAC workforce, especially the Weapons and Space Readiness/TechSIGINT Revitalization members.”
 
Spirits were high as Seidel concluded, “We look forward to a modernized facility to support the day-to-day demands of our military service elements, and the training needs of the workforce.”

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 1970s-1990s
« Reply #93 on: 11/21/2023 09:04 pm »
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.

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #94 on: 11/30/2023 09:54 pm »
Interesting to see NRO being more upfront than ever about what looks v much like SIGINT in a recent 1 minute promo video.

I assume this is a generic satellite rather than a real one but it is surely for "hearing" rather than "seeing" ?



Interested to see the makers of this video advertising how it was made
https://stevensavalle.com/nro

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #95 on: 01/02/2024 02:06 pm »
Bit more on Parcae, DNRO Scolese's memo about it is here: https://www.nro.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=8h4Tp694PDs%3D&portalid=135    and attached.

Interesting statements about

1. NRO not using PARCAE after 2008 [presumably with INTRUDER taking over the role at least initially]

2. about today's commercial systems being comparable if not superior to   PARCAE,

and 3. about possible future releases of info.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2024 01:29 pm by LittleBird »

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #96 on: 01/02/2024 09:09 pm »
Interesting statements about NRO not using PARCAE after 2008, about new commercial systems being as good or better, and about possible future releases of info.

I would like to know which commercial systems these were, which were available before 2008.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #97 on: 01/03/2024 07:07 am »
Interesting statements about NRO not using PARCAE after 2008, about new commercial systems being as good or better, and about possible future releases of info.

I would like to know which commercial systems these were, which were available before 2008.

Sorry, my poor phrasing not Scolese, what I should have said was

"Interesting statements about

1. NRO not using PARCAE after 2008 [presumably with INTRUDER taking over the role at least initially]

2. about today's commercial systems being comparable if not superior to PARCAE,

and 3. about possible future releases of info."  I have amended my post.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2024 01:28 pm by LittleBird »

Offline bobthemonkey

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #98 on: 01/03/2024 05:26 pm »
What are the chances of the commercial reference just being a flub that got carried over from a pre existing memo on IMINT.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s
« Reply #99 on: 01/03/2024 05:53 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.

 
« Last Edit: 01/03/2024 05:57 pm by LittleBird »

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.

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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.

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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 »

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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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