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Report: spacecraft problems hurt US intelligence efforts
Posted: Wed, Sep 4, 2002, 8:40 AM ET (1240 GMT)
Titan 4B launch (Lockheed Martin file photo) The launch failure of one satellite and the extended delay in the launch of another have hurt American efforts to eavesdrop on Iraqi and al-Qaeda communications, Aviation Week reports. The lack of enough signals intelligence satellites has hampered efforts by the National Security Agency to monitor communications by the terrorist group as well as the Iraqi government and military, who may be targets of future US military action. One satellite that would have aided those efforts was lost in an August 1998 Titan 4 launch failure. The other was scheduled for launch in April, but has now been delayed until next spring. Aviation Week reported that the delays in the second satellite may be caused by significant upgrades being performed to the spacecraft. One noted critic of the National Reconnaissance Office, Spectrum Astro president David Thompson, claimed that these problems were further evidence that "the NRO has posted a sorry decline into mediocrity and aristocracy."
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