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Subject:      8X lives on as the Enhanced Imaging System
From:         [email protected] (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1998/05/08
Message-ID:   <[email protected]>
Newsgroups:   sci.space.policy,alt.politics.org.cia 
From http://www.nro.odci.gov/speeches/Sfrfinal.html

   National Reconnaissance Office Presentation to the Senate 
   Armed Services Committee Strategic Force Subcommittee 
   [by the DNRO Keith Hall]
   March 11, 1998 

   In the area of imagery intelligence, we are completing the development 
   of the Enhanced Imaging System in response to growing customer demands 
   and large area imagery collection shortfalls. At the same time, we are
   developing FIA, which will capitalize on available small satellite
   technology to address the needs of tomorrow's customers in the most
   effective way possible.

It would appear as if "Enhanced Imaging System" is the current
unclassified name of the augmented CRYSTAL spysat previously
known as "8X."  8X derives from the Late Age of Monstersats,
just after the Gulf War when field commanders complained of
lack of area coverage and dwell time.

See http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/imint/at_951007.htm 

The interesting part has to do not with coverage, which could
presumably be dealt with by reworking the CRYSTAL optics and focal
plane arrangements, but dwell time.  The only way to make much
of an effect on that is to go to higher, slower orbits.

See http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/imint/at_950509.htm

And, indeed, the official statement contained in the above reference 
was made after the 8X decision but before the deanathemization of 
smallsats (http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/smallsat.htm) at Big Black(c).

So, it would appear as if we can expect one or a few launches
of Really Big Satellites into high-LEO to MEO orbits in the
coming years, presumably at the critical ("Molniya") inclination
that makes most sense for long dwell times.  

If these, like the canonical model of AFP-731
(http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/imint/afp-731.htm), are meant 
to disappear, we might see a modest excess of launches on T-IVs into 63.4 
degree orbits over the next several years. But those might well be hard
to distinguish from the building of the anticipated TRUMPET-follow on/
SBIRS-HEO constellation and, one presumes, the occasional SDS 
replacement.  Diligence and perhaps some optical instruments are called
for.

P.S. WRT the DNRO statement about FIA, *what* available small satellite
technology?  A suspicious eye might wander in the direction of Thornton,
CO. (http://www.spaceimage.com/)

Subject:      Re: 8X lives on as the Enhanced Imaging System
From:         [email protected] (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1998/05/09
Message-ID:   <[email protected]>
Newsgroups:   sci.space.policy,alt.politics.org.cia 
 
In article <[email protected]> [email protected] 
(Allen Thomson) writes:

[snip]

>we might see a modest excess of launches on T-IVs into 63.4 
>degree orbits over the next several years. But those might well be hard
>to distinguish from the building of the anticipated TRUMPET-follow on/
>SBIRS-HEO constellation and, one presumes, the occasional SDS 
>replacement.  Diligence and perhaps some optical instruments are called
>for.

   Oops -- my poor old brain slipped a couple of cycles there (not, alas,
a unique event).  It's known that the TRUMPET-FO/SBIRS-HEO is likely to 
be considerably smaller than the present model, and will probably ride 
on an Atlas-IIAS or equivalent EELV. 
(http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/launch/nmm.htm and DejaNews)

   So, in light of the fact that "the cold war inventory of satellites 
is nearly gone" (http://www.nro.odci.gov/speeches/Sfrfinal.html),
presumably including TRUMPETS, the need for heavy lift into critical
inclinations would seem to go away except for the postulated 8X/EIS
missions.  Nothing like this is indicated in the National Mission Model,
so there seem to be several possibilities.

1) EIS isn't going into a critical inclination orbit after all.
2) Additional T-IV missions will be added to the model.
3) Some East Coast launches ostensibly going to GTO will
   take a left turn and go to MEO critical inclination orbits 
   instead.
4) EIS will go into retrograde critical (ca. 116 degree), and 
   perhaps critical + sun-synchronous orbits from the West Coast.

   Of these, 3) strikes me as dubious. I kind of like 4), just 
because it's sporty and hasn't, AFAIK, ever been done before.