Feeds

Cheesed-off spooks give up on duff spy-sat

Contractors sin-binned in string of space peeper cockups

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.