Author Topic: Satellite signals intelligence in the 1970s-1990s  (Read 23782 times)

Offline 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.

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Offline LittleBird

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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 »

Offline 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 ...

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Offline LittleBird

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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 »

Offline 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 »

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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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

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Online Emmettvonbrown

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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.

Offline Targeteer

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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."

Offline Blackstar

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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.

Offline LittleBird

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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

Offline LittleBird

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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 »

Offline Skyrocket

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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 »

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