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Subject: Invisible Keyhole
giblets    12/11/2002 6:11:12 AM
One of the problems facing the Americans in terms of their intelligence on Iraq is their Keyhole satelites (about £1.3billion each). Although with excellent definition thought to be able to read newspaper headlines (which is probably a bit of an understatement as Israels cheaper ones can read numebr plates). The times of each pass are well publicised on the net (with amatuer astronomers posting times etc on websites USA 116, USA 129, and USA161), so it does not take an amateur sleuth to tell the Iraqi's when and when not to move their stuff. This has led to much specuation about the US producing an 'invisible' keyhole satelite (presumably non reflective material or something), which can hover over a target. But how to do this The basic physics say you can have a geosynchronous orbitat 40,000km, or an eliptical orbit (90mins per orbit), leaving not a lot of timeover the country, so this satelite (s?) probably have a Molniya orbit which leaves them over target for a far larger period of time than a plain orbit more egg shaped 175-625 KM), and are a lot closer than a geosynchronous orbit.
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bsl    RE:Invisible Keyhole   12/11/2002 5:21:07 PM
It's true that any fool with a current ephemeris can tell when a given body in orbit will be over the horizon. (This really isn't the whole story, because some satellites have some manuevering capacity and can change their orbit and, so, the time of their passes if there is sufficient reason to use the fuel reserve.) But, the more important point is how robust the national recon capacity is. America has a rather extensive orbital surveillance system. Other countries have a few satellites. We have more than a few. And, some of the best are not the ones which are profiled in news magazines. We have a history of capacities becoming public record long after they exist, while the new ones seem to be overlooked. And, we have a history of running scams in which things which are public record are used to cover for other things which are not yet known. In practical application, it's mostly a question of the will of Washington. In times when threats are not taken seriously, capabilities can decay and existing capabilities not be used. However, the Clinton era is over and the threat warnings have been received. We've had more than a year in which to put everything on a working basis and you can bet that we haven't wasted the time. The real problems in intelligence and recon are more matters of things which can not be seen or heard. Matter of intention, for instance. Message systems based on hand carried messages rather than electronic communications. Matters which require human intelligence, which is the one area where America has been negligent for many years, for political reasons. bsl
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