It's a weird place where top secret spy satellites meet publicly released images. Living within eyeshot of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center, I'm pretty used to the idea of classified launches. There are many classified launches, but as we say, once they light the engines, the launch isn't secret any more. They tend to classify the launch time, but publish a launch window. Everyone knows that, in general, mission planners prefer to launch at the start of the launch window. If something goes wrong, that gives them the rest of the window to work on fixing the issue.
Still, the people who work on these missions may have extraordinary skills, but they're ordinary people who take pride in their work. Since virtually all space missions have mission patches, perhaps it's easier to understand that Top Secret satellites might have mission patches, too. Popular Mechanics does one of their series of image collections on their website, this one, "17 Sinister Spy Satellite Mission Patches".
It's a fun collection to look at.
New to this? NROL stands for NRO Launch and NRO for the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO is an agency that was once so secret, its existence couldn't be
talked about. Among the blackest of the "black agencies" (top secret),
NRO is responsible for planning and deploying the nation's spy
satellites. The existence of the NRO was first revealed in a
congressional leak in 1973, but they still weren't spoken of until the
SALT treaty between the US and USSR, when reconnaissance satellites were
referred to as the "National Technical Means". Today, while the NRO's
existence is known, everything else about it is still classified: its
missions, its org. chart and even large chunks of its budget. An
excellent overview is contained in a 1986 book called Deep Black
(Amazon's link reveals it's out of print, and only available as a used
paperback). The book also discusses the "No Such Agency", CIA and other
aspects of the spy satellite programs.
I'd say something, but then I'd have to....well, you know.....ReplyDelete
Well played, drjim, well played.Delete
And for the first time it's come up online, I also can't comment even though I really want to. And that's a weird feeling.ReplyDelete
Sure was fun, though, wasn't it?ReplyDelete
Interesting patches. I would have thought the octopus could have been given a more Cthulhulian spin, but that is just me.ReplyDelete
I'll just say that there is cutting edge and then there is CUTTING EDGE. WAY WAY WAY cutting edge...ReplyDelete
BBE, for "Beyond Bleeding Edge".ReplyDelete
"Tone deaf" is an understatement. Stalin would have had them all shot.ReplyDelete
There's cutting edge, way-way-way cutting edge,and BBE. Then there's stuff buried so deep that Black isn't dark enough...ReplyDelete