Chronology of the National Reconnaissance Office

Chronology of the National Reconnaissance Office




  • 28 February 1959 - Discoverer I/CORONA is launched; mission is a failure due to problems with Agena upper stage


  • 15 January 1960 - 6594th Test Wing (Satellite) activated at Sunnyvale, California; will later be known as Air Force Satellite Control Facility, or the Blue Cube, controlling many NRO CORONA satellite missions
  • 22 June 1960 - Launch of GRAB Signals Intelligence satellite; first overhead intelligence gathering satellite[1][2]
  • 11 August 1960 - Discoverer XIII capsule successfully recovered; first man-made object retrieved from orbit (American flag)[3]
  • 18 August 1960 - Discoverer XIV/CORONA M9009 launched; first totally successful mission; returned images of Mys Schmidta airfield
  • 17 February 1961 - First launch of KH-5 ARGON camera system (M9014A); mission was partially successful
  • 6 September 1961 - National Reconnaissance Office is established[4]
  • 13 December 1962 - First launch of POPPY SIGINT satellite[1]
  • 21 August 1964 - Last launch of KH-5 ARGON system (M9066A); mission was successful


  • 25 May 1972 - CORONA M1117 launched; final mission of CORONA program
  • 12 October 1973 - Existence of NRO is inadvertently leaked through the Congressional Record, an official government publication[5]
  • 15 August 1978 - William P. Kampiles, CIA staffer, arrested after selling KH-11 Technical Manual to the Soviets[6]
  • 1 October 1978 - President Jimmy Carter publicly acknowledges the "fact of" United States' photoreconnaissance satellites[7][8]


  • 28 January 1986 - STS-51L Challenger explodes; delays pending launches of NRO satellites



  • 23 August 2001 - Brian Patrick Regan, a contractor at NRO, was arrested by FBI, under suspicion of espionage[10]
  • 23 April 2007 - Operating Division-4 (OD-4) inactivates at Onizuka AFS, California[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b National Reconnaissance Office: "Raising the Periscope... Grab and Poppy, America's early ELINT Satellites"
  2. ^ TheMemoryHole: "History of the POPPY satellite system"
  3. ^ National Air and Space Museum: Looking at Earth exhibit
  4. ^ National Security Archive: Roswell Gilpatric, Letter to Allen Dulles, "Management of the National Reconnaissance Program", 6 September 1961
  5. ^ Memorandum for Director Central Intelligence, "BYEMAN security compromises", 30 Oct 1973
  6. ^ CI CENTRE:"William Kampiles espionage case"
  7. ^ National Security Archive: Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Admission of Satellite Reconnaissance", 25 Sep 1978
  8. ^ National Security Archive: Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Public Acknowledgement of the 'fact of' photoreconnaissance satellites", 21 Sep 1978
  9. ^"Department of Defense, No. 264-M, MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS", September 18, 1992
  10. ^ CI CENTRE: "Brian Regan espionage case"
  11. ^ Air Force Link: "'Mission accomplished' for NRO at Onizuka AFS", 23 Apr 2007

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