Feeds

Cheesed-off spooks give up on duff spy-sat

Contractors sin-binned in string of space peeper cockups

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Hardened Hydrazine the source of Galileo satnav FAIL
Russian aerospace firm's kit fails on 46th mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.