Feeds

Cheesed-off spooks give up on duff spy-sat

Contractors sin-binned in string of space peeper cockups

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
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?
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.