For more than a decade they toiled in the strange, boxy-looking building on the hill above the municipal airport, the building with no windows (except in the cafeteria), the building filled with secrets. They wore protective white jumpsuits, and had to walk through air-shower chambers before entering the sanitized "cleanroom" where the equipment was stored. They spoke in code. Few knew the true identity of "the customer" they met in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled conference room where the phone lines were scrambled. When they traveled, they sometimes used false names. At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret...
Tag Archives | Satellites
Computer hackers, possibly from the Chinese military, interfered with two U.S. government satellites four times in 2007 and 2008 through a ground station in Norway, according to a congressional commission. The intrusions on the satellites, used for earth climate and terrain observation, underscore the potential danger posed by hackers, according to excerpts from the final draft of the annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report is scheduled to be released next month. “Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions,” according to the draft. “Access to a satellite‘s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite’s transmission.”
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The $750 million (£468 million) Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite, launched 20 years ago to study climate change, is set to breach the atmosphere within weeks.
In a new alert issued this week, officials warned pieces could land in densely populated areas on six continents including parts of Britain, Europe, North and South America and Asia.
Nasa claimed the risk to public safety from the “dead” satellite — which is orbiting just over 155 miles above the earth with an inclination of 57 degrees — was “extremely small”.
But senior space agency officials admitted they were “concerned” about the risk to billions of people when it starts falling uncontrolled out of orbit at any stage from later this month.
John MacDougall, then 25, was the lonely pamphleteer of lore, only instead of paper and ink he was armed with a 30-foot transmission dish, an electronic keyboard, and a burning objection to HBO's decision in 1986 to begin scrambling its satellite signal and charging viewers $12.95 a month. That move and price had offended MacDougall's sense of fair play — and all but halted the sales being generated by his fledgling satellite dish business in Ocala, Fla. So at 12:32 a.m. on Sunday, April 27, he transformed himself into Captain Midnight by commandeering HBO's satellite transmission signal - interrupting a showing of The Falcon and the Snowman — and putting in its place the above protest message that aired for four-and-a-half minutes. The stunt touched off a nationwide manhunt by law enforcement to unmask Captain Midnight and a media circus that has MacDougall's head spinning to this day. He would be caught, plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and receive a wrist slap of probation and a $5,000 fine.
The public will at last get a glimpse at our government’s secretive, Cold War-era version of Google Earth. Secrecy News reports:
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Millions of feet of film of historical imagery from intelligence satellites may be declassified this year, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) said.
“The NGA is anticipating the potential declassification of significant amounts of film-based imagery… in 2011,” according to an NGA announcement that solicited contractor interest in converting the declassified film into digital format.
For planning purposes, the NGA told potential contractors to assume the need to digitize “approximately 4 million linear feet of film up to approximately 7 inches in width.” The imagery is “stored on 500 foot spools, with many frames up to several feet in length.” A nominal start date of October 1, 2011 was specified for the digitization project.
The declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery has been largely dormant for many years. President Clinton’s 1995 executive order 12951 promised a periodic review of classified imagery “with the objective of making available to the public as much imagery as possible consistent with the interests of national defense and foreign policy.” In particular, a review of obsolete film-return systems, such as the KH-8 GAMBIT and the KH-9 HEXAGON, was to be completed within five years.
Benign, or Big Brother? Report from AP/Yahoo News:
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On New York’s Long Island, it’s used to prevent drownings. In Greece, it’s a tool to help solve a financial crisis. Municipalities update property assessment rolls and other government data with it. Some in law enforcement use it to supplement reconnaissance of crime suspects.
High-tech eyes in the sky — from satellite imagery to sophisticated aerial photography that maps entire communities — are being employed in creative new ways by government officials, a trend that civil libertarians and others fear are eroding privacy rights.
“As technology advances, we have to revisit questions about what is and what is not private information,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology.
Online services like Google and Bing give users very detailed images of practically any location on the planet. Though some images are months old, they make it possible for someone sitting in a living room in Brooklyn to look in on folks in Dublin or Prague, or even down the street in Flatbush.
Didn’t know there were zombie satellites? Now you do, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor:
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An attempt to shut down the electronics payload of the out-of-control communications satellite Galaxy 15 has failed, leaving the satellite – which ceased responding to ground commands last month – still in its uncontrolled “zombiesat” drift toward orbits occupied by other spacecraft, the satellite’s fleet operator Intelsat said Tuesday.
Galaxy 15 is closing in on the geostationary orbital slot occupied by another C-band satellite, the AMC-11 spacecraft operated by SES World Skies, and with its stuck-on communications payload will be in a position to cause potentially severe interference with the SES satellite during a two-week period starting around May 23, according to Intelsat and SES estimates.
The unsuccessful attempt to shut down the so-called “zombiesat” – a satellite industry term for failed satellites in orbit – occurred on Monday.
In a Tuesday statement in response to Space News inquiries, Intelsat said it is researching other ways to shut down Galaxy 15 once the satellite has passed through the AMC-11 position and enters — for a limited period of time — a stretch of orbital terrain unoccupied by other C-band spacecraft.
Reuters is reporting that:
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The U.S. military said on Tuesday it is now tracking 800 maneuverable satellites on a daily basis for possible collisions and expects to add 500 more non-maneuvering satellites by year’s end.
The U.S. Air Force began upgrading its ability to predict possible collisions in space after a dead Russian military communications satellite and a commercial U.S. satellite owned by Iridium collided on Feb. 10.
General Kevin Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, called the collision the “seminal event” in the satellite industry during the past year and said it destroyed any sense that space was so vast that collisions were highly improbable.
He said military officials had wanted to do more thorough analysis of possible collisions in space, but had lacked the resources. Before the collision, he said they were tracking less than 100 satellites a day.
“It’s amazing what one collision will do to the resource spigot,” he told a space conference in Omaha, Nebraska.