Feeds

Cheesed-off spooks give up on duff spy-sat

Contractors sin-binned in string of space peeper cockups

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Further admissions of expensive technical disasters have emerged from the United States' secretive spy-satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Reuters reports today that a classified space platform employing new technologies, designated L-21, has been in orbit since last December. L-21, reportedly made by American arms-tech colossus Lockheed, is said to have cost "hundreds of millions of dollars," but sadly it has never responded to communications from the ground since being launched.

The NRO has now given up trying to make it work. The pricey peeping-Tom will orbit the Earth for decades before falling into the atmosphere and breaking up.

The L-21 fiasco is the latest in a string of mishaps at the NRO. Recently, a brace of top secret ocean surveillance sats were inadvertently fired into the wrong orbits by a malfunctioning Lockheed-made Centaur rocket. Controllers are trying to coax the errant spy-birds into a useful flightpath using their manoeuvring jets, but this is bad news as it will shorten their useful lives.

Lockheed was already in hot water before that, with its troubled, billion-dollar "Misty" satellite programme recommended for the chop by NRO director Ronald Kerr on the grounds that he didn't think it would ever be a success.

Troubles for Lockheed would normally be good news for its main rival in the US military market, Boeing. But Reuters cites an unnamed government official as saying that Boeing is also in the sat-spooks' bad books, having been sin-binned for making crappy secret space gear. Apparently, Boeing is now on a "watch list", meaning that it can only bid on new sky-spy work if granted a waiver.

The NRO may have to grant such waivers fairly often, however, unless it wants to be stuck with no choice other than Lockheed. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.