GRAB, POPPY and the US Navy’s Spy Satellites

No big post today, since real life intervenes, just a quick note instead. The US National Reconnaissance Office recently declassified a late 1990s history of its first ELINT (electronic intelligence) satellites, GRAB and POPPY. Developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, the satellites (GRAB became POPPY when the NRO was created) were the first to detect and locate Soviet air defense radars, then became tools for ocean surveillance (picking up the signals from Soviet shipboard radars). There are a lot of redactions (blacked-out words, sentences, and even paragraphs) in U.S. Navy-NRO Program C, Electronic Intelligence Satellites (1958-1977) but it’s still a great window into the workings of the early NRO and how well the service elements worked together.

There’s more on recent declassifications from the always well-informed Dwayne Day over at The Space Review.

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