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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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NASA’s Applications Satellites and National Security Requirements

NASA’s Applications Satellites and National Security Requirements

Chapter:
(p.244) Chapter 8 NASA’s Applications Satellites and National Security Requirements
Source:
Spies and Shuttles
Author(s):

James E. David

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813049991.003.0009

With their increasingly sophisticated instruments and ability to collect more data, NASA's application satellites in the Shuttle era helped meet national security requirements. Landsat imagery enabled the CIA to estimate foreign agricultural production and helped the DoD to make maps. Close coordination among agencies surrounded NASA's weather satellites, and they continued to provide data for tactical applications. When the DoD's DMSP satellites were not operational from 1980 to 1982, NASA's weather satellites attempted to satisfy strategic requirements but with little success. Several of NASA's geodetic satellites were specifically designed to acquire data to improve the accuracy of U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles. For the first time ever, NASA agreed to limit the dissemination of selected scientific data. This agreement remained in place until the DoD decided that these data were not sensitive and President Carter ordered that they be freely disseminated. The national security agencies approved all the sensors for the first oceanographic satellite. NASA successfully opposed encryption of the data from the radar imager, but it agreed to limit the acquisition and dissemination of selected imagery and for the first time ever to install a device to prevent unauthorized commands. Except for Landsat, which was privatized for a short period, White House attempts to consolidate or privatize NASA's application satellite programs failed.

Keywords:   NASA, weather satellites, geodetic satellites, oceanographic satellites, Landsat, DMSP, CIA, DOD, encryption

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