The National Reconnaissance Office, which is responsible for America’s prodigious fleet of spy satellites, launched a secret satellite into orbit on December 5, and this is its mission logo. The official twitter account of James Clapper, principle advisor to President Obama on intelligence and national security, dropped it in public view on Dec. 5.
Ready for launch? An Atlas 5 will blast off at just past 11PM, PST carrying an classified NRO payload (also cubesats) pic.twitter.com/ll7s0nCOPg— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 5, 2013
The NROL-39 and its payload are classified, but its launch trajectory puts its satellites into the same orbit as previous spy satellites used for radar imaging. If that’s the case, it would make the primary contents of NROL-39 the latest satellite in a series designed to salvage the radar component of an otherwise largely failed spy satellite program, called Future Imagery Architecture, which The New York Times called “perhaps the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects.”