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Spies and ShuttlesNASA's Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA$
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James E. David

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049991

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049991.001.0001

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Restrictions on Remote Sensing from Space

Restrictions on Remote Sensing from Space

(p.103) Chapter 4 Restrictions on Remote Sensing from Space
Spies and Shuttles

James E. David

University Press of Florida

NASA's planned systematic remote sensing program enjoyed widespread support from scientists and would deliver many practical benefits. However, it also posed political and technological threats to the highly classified National Reconnaissance Program. NASA could not be permitted to acquire any high-quality imagery of Earth that might lead to a renewed campaign to restrict reconnaissance from space nor could it openly use sophisticated sensors which would reveal U.S. capabilities. To eliminate these threats, NASA had to enter a series of agreements with the national security agencies beginning in 1965 limiting the technologies it could use and creating mechanisms for the joint review of all of its activities in this area. With these protections in place and as opposition of the national security agencies to a systematic remote sensing program decreased, NASA finally obtained permission in the late 1960s to begin development of a robotic remote sensing satellite program. To compensate for the lower-quality imagery these spacecraft would collect, the national security community established Project Argo under which cleared scientists from several federal agencies gained access to selected classified imagery for civilian applications.

Keywords:   NASA, National Reconnaissance Program, national security, remote sensing, Project Argo

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