The director of the National Reconnaissance Office has revealed that two new satellite programs developed in collaboration with the private sector have been delivering new insights into North Korea and other areas of interest to U.S. intelligence.
“Both went from concept to orbit in less than three years, and both were delivered on schedule and within budget,” said Director Chris Scolese at an industry conference on Thursday. “These two systems started contributing almost immediately.”
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The two systems aided Haiti in the aftermath of the recent earthquake, helped image areas in Afghanistan to help with evacuation efforts, “and provided insight into areas of North Korea where we’ve struggled to collect in the past,” Scolese said.
Scolese acknowledged how rare it is for the office to be open about its projects, saying that “for anyone who’s been around the NRO long enough, the fact we’re sharing this much information in public is probably a big surprise.” The federal government did not acknowledge the agency’s existence between its founding in 1961 and declassification in 1992.
The agency is looking to be more open about its mission in order to enlist the help of private-sector innovation, which contributed to the success of the two satellite projects.
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“We no longer have the luxury of treating our advantage in space as a given,” Scolese said, highlighting the agency’s stronger ties with U.S. allies and the need to “stay focused and aggressive” on gaining advantages through private-sector cooperation and continuous innovation.
“The commercial sector presents incredible opportunities,” he said. “For us, commercial isn’t just a priority. It’s a must. We don’t just want it. We need it.”
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Tags: News, North Korea, Spying, Intelligence, Technology
Original Author: Virginia Aabram
Original Location: New spy satellites can provide data on North Korea and other key areas