National Reconnaissance Office
From Academic Kids
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a department of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) which designs, builds and operates the reconnaissance satellites of the United States government. It also coordinates collection and analysis of information from airplane and satellite reconnaissance by the military services and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is funded through the National Reconnaissance Program, which is part of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.
The NRO works closely with its intelligence and space partners, which include the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the United States Strategic Command.
The NRO was established in 1960 to develop the nation's revolutionary satellite reconnaissance systems. It was endorsed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in February 1958 after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first orbital satellite. The need for the agency obtained greater urgency when Gary Powers was shot down in a Lockheed U-2 on May 1, 1960.
The NRO's first photo reconnaissance satellite program was called "Corona." The Corona program, whose existence was declassified February 24, 1995, existed from August 1960 to May 1972, although the first test flight occurred on February 28, 1959. The Corona system used (sometimes multiple) film capsules dropped by satellites, which were recovered mid-air by military craft. The first successful recovery from space occurred on August 12, 1960, and the first image from space taken six days later. The first imaging resolution was 8 meters, which was improved to 2 meters. Individual images covered, on average, an area of approximately 10 by 120 miles. The last Corona mission (the 145th), was launched May 25, 1972, and this mission's last images were taken May 31, 1972.
Missions of the NRO subsequent to 1972 are still classified, and portions of many earlier programs remain unavailable to the public.
The NRO is staffed by personnel from the CIA, the military services, and civilian personnel of the Department of Defense.
NRO Operations Squadron (NOPS) does the daily work of contacting satellites.
The NRO spacecraft include:
- Keyhole series – photo imaging:
- Samos – photo imaging (1960)
- Lacrosse/Onyx – radar imaging (1988)
- Chalet, Vortex and Mercury – signals intelligence
- Rhyolite, Aquacade – electronic intelligence
- Quasar, communications relay
- National Reconnaissance Office website (http://www.nro.gov)
- NRO for Kids! (http://www.nrojr.gov/)
- National Security Archive: The NRO Declassified (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB35/index.html)de:National Reconnaissance Office