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.