Disabled Intel Satellite Restored to Operation by NRO

A U.S. intelligence satellite that had ceased to function was recently restored to operation by engineers from the National Reconnaissance Office and its industry affiliates, the NRO said.

The episode was first publicly described last month in a glossy two-page NRO brochure (pdf), which simply said: “Technical experts from both the NRO and industry recently performed extraordinary engineering on the ground that returned a non-operating satellite to full operation.” See “National Reconnaissance Office Accomplishments,” July 2008.

Secrecy News asked NRO spokesman Rick Oborn to elaborate on the statement in the promotional brochure. (“I didn’t know anyone actually read that,” he said.)

He said the action occurred around “one and a half or two months ago,” after the satellite in question had been “non-responsive for a while.”

It was a “very interesting and pretty extraordinary” turn of events and “much to everybody’s semi-surprise,” satellite operation was restored.

What kind of satellite was it? “I can’t tell you that,” he said.

When was it launched? “That would reveal too much.”

How long was the satellite non-operational? “I don’t think I’m going to tell you.” And he didn’t.

Mr. Oborn said that NRO had prepared a classified account of the matter which was circulated in the intelligence community and to Congress.

The story shows, he said, that “we’ve got some really smart people doing the job.”

No Responses to “Disabled Intel Satellite Restored to Operation by NRO”

  1. Steven Dolley August 6, 2008 at 12:06 PM #

    Hasn’t there been a dormant DSP or maybe two up there for a while?

  2. A. Scott Crawford August 6, 2008 at 5:05 PM #

    These wouldn’t happen to be the same “industry affiliates” that were responsible for the SV that had to be shot down earlier in the year? If I recall correctly, that SV was ‘non-operating’ as well. So is this NRO bird part of the same system or launch grouping? Considering that this would make TWO SV’s that were non-operating this year alone, perhaps someone should be asking MORE questions of the “industry affiliates” pertaining to the bird that had to be blown out of orbit by the USS Erie, as the chances that the supplier of the defective “black” SV were required to refund the DoD the billions that cloud of floating space dust cost are about 0%.

    Last. How many MORE non-operating SV’s should the DoD expect from it’s industry affiliates? When we fall so low as to pat ourselves on the back for fixing an SV without questioning the necessity of doing so in the first place, something is very very rotten in procurement. (Back in the old days, the brass expected it’s multi billion dollar black projects to be operational by default!).

    A. Scott Crawford

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