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Release 2oo1/~1~~1~IlIG;




C NRO & OSC Declassification/Release



SatelUte Reconnaissance ~)

1. Vroblem~ To define the national polley on satellite recOI1llalssanee aotivities,


including their conduct) security.

publ1e dtsclosure,



political aspects. 2. ~aet~r. ~fl4\l'!!!i on t~,Problem. Several factors have a s1gnificant

benring upon the determination of an adequate and defensible policy. and

In the determination

Of the steps necessary

for Its successfulimplementa.-



u.~ s. national polley a.head! publiclY acknowledged at ~ the space effort necessat1: fo't naUonal ...--,. .... _....__.,__

highest level inclu~:Utag

4~feD8e. Such eHort has been publ1cly dilclose4 as bona fide military
effort. and not metely sCientific experiments by the mll1tary or the support of such exper1lnen~ by military resources.

This is not in any

way Inconsistent with the national policy on the peaceful utes of outer spaee$ since the :anllUary space program baa ~lao been dtsclosed. as

~aceful. non-aggress1ve means of enhancing our detense against aggressive attack.

b. The U. N. General, Assembly, 1721(XVI) established

in unanimously

paalsing applies



the fact that In,ternatlonallaw


spac& and that outer space is free tor gxploration and use by
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c. ,

nat10ntll approprifltlon. ..... c.


aU States In conformity With lnternatlonallaw,

and ta not tlubJect to

Appeal to potentially 'Wideusefulness

of observatioo satelUtes unless the mere faet

is not a Viable defense. for reconnai8sRnce activities that observations are made from a satellite

is sufficient for defense of In this caae activities at

all observatlQll satelUtes,. which seems most improbable. there would be no need to involve satelUte reconnaissance

all, 8ince th1s defense could be based enttrely upon meteorological satellite projects manner ~ already publicly diBclosed. If defense depends 1D any then. the fact must be faced, useful only at! an 1ntell1g~ g below, and cannot

the type of such observation,

that reconna188anc!!_photogr'aphy is primarily g~erlng

method, for reasons discussed in.Raragraph



d. What the 8ov1ets may choose to do in l"~gard to conducting

recoMsiasQIlCe from aatell1tes should have no bearing upon U. S_ satellite

reconnaissance activltles. Regardless of what they choose to do, it ia

clear that the value of such reeonnalssanee· t. tnfln1tely greate .. to the


u. a,. than

it 18 to the Sovietst due to the extreme <l1fferences between

our open SOQ1etyand their tightly closed society. Effective reconnais$snce requ1res surpriSe and secrecy. Even


if the Soviets were officially to declare pubUCly. in writing, that they h~ absolutely no objection whatsoever to the U, B. flying reconnatsaance

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satellites over Soviet territory,

it would 8tll1 be imperative that the

actual details and timing of these activities be conducted in secrecy.


Effective reconnaissance

requires concealment of the particular



Qf miS8ioll$, the technical approaches used in the sensors, and the timing
of all such actlvlties.

Without such secrecy,

it would be a relatively

simple matter to protect sensitive electronic aignal emissions whUe

satellites which could sense them are in range. TIlls ls conside:rably


less practicl\l when numerous oblects are In orbit and it is not known
whiCh ones,


are equipped

to obtain th1s 1n1ormat1on~ Furthermore.


edge of the particular photographic capabWties and timing of photographic



missions would enable relatively

simple coQlltermeasures

which could

concealvltal information during the time such miaslons are in range and greatly reduce the actual effectiveness of such missions.
ThiS, too,


beCOmes much less ptactica!

with larger numbers of satellltes for 'Which

the miSsion la not lalown for certain and for whtch precIse orbital data
ls. available only aij:er substantial

coverage has been obtained.


of conducting _______________ lega1f

f. Sec_:ecy dWB not mean that meg))l acti~~re though secret,

~·_o_mtUtary operations

being conducted.


waters and air apaoe has long been establiehed.

There fs

no reason why the U. 8. should allow the lack of discloSU1'~ of details,

timing, and results of sate.lUte reconnais8ance

efforts to be taken as a


concession of illegality.

The fact that such details are not dtsclesed

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relevant only if we allow it to become relevant by reacUng defensively

to criticism. in this regard.

There is nothing inherently lliegal in and

conducted on intern ational

no basts for criticism. of secrecy of activities

waters or In International air

val1d objection in International


there is consequently no bRsts for

it There are several aspects 01 reconnaissance photography which

are B1gnHtcant. (1) The current state of the art in aatell1te operation, and the
technical characteristics public disclosure
of reconnaissance ------------_ _--- photography _- ------.. .. ------'.'..-....... ~~~~+_d ~ '~ .... L_ _ • _.

are such that

++ ... ..._._ ••_ .........

of slleh p~otography under any other name wUl not

'~_T ~

camouflage its basic pUf.'POSe. Neither is there any possibility of passing ~

mapping photOgraphy a~ reconnaissance
and stgn1ttcant differences

photography, due to lmportant

between these two types of photography.

Mapping photography
poor resolution.

Is characterized by hIgh geometric fidelity but very


on the o~der o~ 8&Veral hjmdred feet.

photography includes substantial geoIlletid~: \11stortlon but must have high

resolution in order that missile sites, etc .., may be Ident1f1ed. There ia
no known ancillary use of th1e type of photography' that could possibly

necount for the cu~rent expense and effort ot acquiring the photography by sateilltes. Any attempt- to explain such current activities on the basiS of Flood

scientific and public service functlons would be most unrealistic.

control, water resources utlUzat1on~ road plannIng f1nd construction,

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urban renewal and redevelopment, caMot justify any satellite

and under ..developed areas c~rently program; any such appUcatlon of


satellite observation capabilities Is obviously a by-product, and not a plausible explanation for the flights.
these functioJ'lS is much more easily,
by use of atrcraft,

Photography applicable to aU of
qulekly and cheaply obtained today community would easily

and the informed International

and quickly conclude that if thEtS6 purposes

ore in fact the objective of ~e


S., then 1t Is absurd to


.satellites rather than sircraft as the

baalc vehicle.

From a recOlUlaif3sance viewpoint, the aIrcraft Is also

The ground resolution obtainable to the

technicaUy liupel10r to the satellite.

is dtrec:tly·proportionl'll

to the altitude and inveraely proportional

combined resolution

of the optlcs .... mechan'sm'OC8Selng

chain, wtth the result that the (relatively) low altitude of aircraft perm1ts
, photography of better resolution.
in the future, Thus,. however the situation may change

the only pr$Sently jlJsti1iabie reason for taking reconnaissance


photographs of the earth from

sate lUte Is to serve as an inferior


acceptable legal substitute for th, obtaining of such photography by Illegal aircraft overflights.
naissance Qr

No amount of public discussion of astelUte reConderivatives can mask thla fact from any countries

ot anclliary

who choose to object to such flights.

the technical capabUity of the collecting 9qU!pmont. 5

(2) Belease of satelUte reconnaissance photograph),: will disclose Without such release.

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the Soviets must esttmate the nature of the colleCting syetem and Its likely capability. In addition to betng uncertain,
this process involves considera ...

tton of various posstbllities


that might be used; diSclosure

ot photography

both the approach and the 1ntelUgence capab1Uty.

(3) Reconnaissance photography, particularly of the Soviet Bloc, ...

'Win be lUl exceptionally interesting

matter to the PUbU,c. DiSclosure .of


such photography would certainly provoke a substantial increase in pubUcity

of reconnaissance




and others would undoubtedly maklngthelr



try their hand at becommg ama:teur photograph hlterpreters, own investigation of'Soviet military capability by tabulating


misstle sites,

airfields,. etc.,

which they think they can identify and count In the released noUng the absence of such things In the


photography. or, conversely, photography. W"o~b.


This could not t!ll to result in considerable publicity and more



such photogrsgh!__ and publi,city .. .


P~OVOC8tt\!e to

the SOViets than the absence of


h. While the electroniC signal elements of the program may leaft public Interest,


they may in fact attract Soviet interest approaching

that caused by photographic reconnale8Mce.

Effective electronic signal

of many aspects


can IdentHy signlfl~ant charaeteristics

of essential military electronic deVices and installations, types of radar


including new

guidance equipment, location of all warning and tracking Since

eq,uipment, etc, as weUss acquire communIcations Intelligence.


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the most effective countermeasure

would be to turn oU such equipment

when a collecting satell1te is in range, the operation and timing of electronic eatelUte reeonnaiesance is extremely sensitive. reason to expect that th1s type of reconnaissance acceptable to the Sovlets than photogtaphlc There 1s certainly no by !latellite is more


t. _---------_.-_._-_ ...• -- __ ..Aside from simPlifying Soviet countermeasu~~~.t_~eles8e of _'_- .. ".

reconnetssance photography would reveal



time of such release and what we could, and therefore prQ.b.ably: have learned from this photography.


has been covered at the ------_ ...._

. ..-------

--...._~ .....

The Soviets would easily identify what

cannot fdenttfy

we have not discovered, whUe we

what we have not



The result would be that the Soviets could tell more eastly

than we what the actual balance of military capabilities are at a gl"en time" clearly an advantage to the Soviets and not to the U.


Although it is true that the Soviets can locate and track our


this process 1s much easier and faster if notice of launch and Without such data, init1al detection U the lannon was not

even. rough orbital data is released.

1s not certain on the first few orbitst particularly

expected.. Up to several days can be required to deter:nnne the pr~'uuJ

ephemeris which some possible methods of active countermeasures would requlre:~ k, The fact that the U. S. ts actively engaged in developing satelUte-



reconnaissance 7

has been in the public domain for several years.


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actlvtUes have been o.ff1cia11yconfirmed. with numerous official statements

describing theb'- general purpose and intent.
They have also been publicly

desorlbed as completely peaceful and posing no threat to any nation. The

first officially acknowledged satellite reconnaissance fUght was launched over a year ago, Although very general facts of these activities aTe pllblie knowledge, details of the technical approaches Involved are not mown to
the public.

I. The crItical U. S. need for satelltte reconrudssance is a continuing,

not. a temporary

will not dIsappear when the initial

Subsequent deployment of later

SOViet ICBM deployment

Is coznplete.

versions of newer missiles w1ll be much more difficult to locate, particularly if the SOviets give any consideration to concealing them from the outset 01 such d8ployment. It will also be extremely Important to monitor

the actual operational status of deployed millsiles.

For these reasaDe,

high acuity ~atel1ite reconnaissance will continue to increase in Importance.

s~ SjJ!eillQ


In view of the factors noted above. there- are



some spac111c character18ttcs

wh1ch 1$ adopted:

which appear to be r-equtred of the policy

a. Public and poUtical emphasis must be focused on the unclU.1f1ed aspects of the U. S. space acUviUes. with full explOitation of their open
charllcter. However, we must not be drawn into conducting nll aspoce

programs on this basis, or into a constant pubUc defense of why we don't,

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b. We should avoid provocation that CQuldsupport Soviet counteraction. Consequently, all public information on the subje.,t of satellite

reconnatl!sance should be kept in very low key.

c. We should avoid forcing the Soviets to take counteraction.


all th1nga which could not be internally ignored by the

Soviet leaders should be carefully avoided. As an example, future confirmation by the President that we are obtaining reconnaissance Soviet& by sateWtesand
by the Soviets.

of the

wUl continue to do so could not possibly be ignored

It would not matter what additional wor<ls of justification


were used; such an unimpeachable confirmation would likely repeat the



U-2 situation in this regard,

It would not matter

at all whether the

Sonets all'lJady knew this for certa!n;

such knowltldge.

they would not be forced to act on


pubUc confirmation f".om the highest level

of goverrunent could not be ignored.

d. We should not compromise the effectiveness of present recon ...


naissance sateWte developments. details, technical approaches, and quantitative results.


Th11J will require protection of the

tbn1ng of mia1!tons·, and both qualitative

We should avold any' oompromise of future ability to conduct

effective satellite reconna1!laanee~ This requires protection of our right and capability to conduct unannounced launches from both fixed and

movable bases, to use multiple decoys of various types without the

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necessity o11dent11ytng them as such, and the ab1l1ty to conduct completely

unidentified flights so that actual recOlUlaisSBnce flights cannot positively

be distinguished from other satellites. f. We should take irreverslble

steps only if the moat compelling

juettf1cat1on bas been thoroughly substantiated by careful and searchIng


For example, the declassifying of presently elass1fied aspects aa is the confirmation of provocat1ve facts by the President

la Irreversible,

or other offIcials, or the publ1c release of any reconnatssance

4. .Poltcy.
In view of the foregoing



the following policy

appears adequately defensible and fully responsive. to the national interests:

.. Bastc Posture.

The U. 8. conduct of satellite reconnaissance

military act1vity, conducted in

activities 1s a legal .. non.aggresslveJ accordance with lnternattonallaw

and comg1etel¥ consistent with the

u.. s.

and the U. N. poUcies on the peaceful uses 01 outer space.. These {lcUvities are- necessary to national defense, and pose no threat to any nation.
btstence of these actiVities has been publ1clyacknowledged.
and will

continue to be acknowledged.

:However, the existence of any reconnaissance

results will neither be confirmed nor denied.

and details are cb\ssUled.

These are not open activities,

They do not require further defense, and in

particular, will not be descrlbed as or sclent1f1cor utIlitarian experiments.

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Managoment and Qonduct of effort.

The U. S. satellite


activities will be condueted.1ndeflnitely within the Air

Force Syste-m8 Command and will not be associated with traditional

m1l1tary operational commands.

There will be no conventional l1operatlonalll


the entire operation

win be

conducted in low Key wIthin the

research and development acUvtues of the Air Force. c. ~ec~lty1

These activities will be conducted undoX'very tight

security procedures which contine exposure of program detatle to the fewest po8EJlblep&opie and documents. All mission ttmtng, collection

system details, and qualitative and quantitative results will be carefully protected from. public disclosure by any means. d. Publlc!y observable operatlons.J protected to the maximum practical extent. 'l'hese operations will be Names and nick-names for

all military space prOlects will be discontinued, and no identification will be made as to the specific mISsion of any mlUtary satellite launch at the

t1tne of launch or during flight., Subse'Juent disclosure that certain

mtsslons have been conducted will be done 1n a manner that will not retroact1ve:b'ldenUfy
the specific launch.

Other appropriate steps will

be taken to make it Increasingly dWlcult to identify reconnaissance

aotivitles w1th certainty.


Public information.

.All pubUc Information on satelUte reeonE!Saentlnlly ull

na1Saanc.eactivltles will be handled 1n very low key. 11

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releases will be answers to direct query, following prepared guidance. The activities will not bEtdiscussed, guidance. except as outlined in the prepared

This guIdance will consist of the basic posture statements



contained in this poliey

together with answers to questions based upon

this policy and the context of material included in the posItion paper for the U.. 8. delegation, dated March 13, 1962, entitled !lInitial Meeting of

the U. N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.'r Answers will

be straightforward, factual, and not defensive or apologettc. No details


will be given and the answer to many quest10ns will simply be a straight .. forward

tNo comment." The U. 5" registry reports to the U. N. will at the time of each



,"', I


f. U. N. ll~g1st!1.

eons1et of those objects in sustained orbit Qr transit

report .. Short-lived satellites which are out of orbit only a few days after launoh will not be registered. (This practic.e in no way restrains the U. 8.

front r.eleru!iing spectal reports on any night having broad 1nternatto~1 interest, such as MERCURY flight!:&, etc.) The U~ S. will not agree to



its proposal to the Disarmament

Conference to give advance not111c.ation


i I

of space launches under any conditions other than as an Integral part of total and complete disarmament .. g. Protection of information source.
In any case where decision



1Bmade to make a public or private disclosure to the Soviets concerning aome ltem Or items at our knowledge, extreme care will be ta~n to

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avoid any disclo8Ul'e or even implication that the source of this Imowledge was satellite reconnaiBsance.

6. Im,plementatton.
a, Many of the steps required to implement the polley outlined

have already been taken, or are currently beIng taken. The management
structure Is already established,. and the satellite reconnaissance activities have been completely disassociated with operational military comnumds and are being conducted entirely within the Air Force Systems

.~ Command.


b. 11secret Department of Defense Directive (No. 8..5200.13) was published on March


,,'" I


1962 which institutes a new security and public Names and nick ... Recognl~ing

inforDUltion pOlicy for all military space pfograms.

names wUlno longer be used for any military space projectsy


that it Is impractical· to selectively protect certain military space programs while continuing an open Iaunch policy for others, since to do


merely emp1ta$~e sensitive projects such as reconnaissance.

polley appl1es equally to all mtlitary s_paceprojects.

this new

When fully Imple-

mentfJd. It will establish the capabillty to launeh, control, and recover znWtftry space vehicles without pubUc knowledge of the timing of these actions or of the specific mission 1nvolved~


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e, The only outstanding action reQ.ulred to fully implement this

poUcy ta to prepare written guidance and brief a number of key govern-

ment officials so that they will act consistently

and will not violate the

polley Inadvertently in the course 01 various. government actions, or in

event of innocent or hostile questions on the subject.

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