In the decades following World War II, certain North American Industries would gradually find themselves in possession of new authority. Delegated from the uppermost levels of the geopolitical pyramid, the new initiative did not immediately make itself apparent until 1958. The later rocket giants and their successive models: the Jupiter (Juno), Saturn, Adas, Delta, Agena, and Titan. These were all Industry hybrids of military designs. In 1955, Dr. J. R. Pierce of Bell Telephone Laboratories published an article in ‘Jet Propulsion” magazine, the monthly periodical of the American Rocket Society. In this article, Dr. Pierce amplified on the general theories of Arthur Clarke, providing technical information on transmission frequencies and other technical problems related to the operation of large-capacity communications satellites. He discussed the differences between simple orbital reflectors (passive) and true orbital communications relays (active). Active satellites receive, amplify, and retransmit signals beamed to them. The process provides the clarity necessary in establishing high resolution televisual communications. The “direct rebroadcaster” was a theoretical system, not then in existence. This system would receive signals, amplify them, and rebroadcasting them directly into the population. Here they could be received by small units, placed atop the homes of those equipped to appropriate the signals. While altruistic, the existence of corporate “middlemen” has interrupted this ideal view of broadcasting to the global village free of charge.
Project Vanguard (1955) continually failed. Shot after public shot continued to evidence the serious lack of technical expertise in the military-dominated space venture. Soviet space endeavors seize worldwide attention in 1957 with Sputnik I. In 1958, US military efforts succeeded in orbiting both Explorer I and Vanguard I. On December 18, 1958 Project SCORE (Signal Communication Orbit Relay Equipment) was placed in earth orbit by the US Air Force- It was the upper stage of a military rocket, the Atlas. The instrument package within this stage contained a “delay rebroadcaster”, absorbing signals onto magnetic tape and rebroadcasting them a short time later. The Soviet DAYDREAM (Metachta) package (1959) was sent into a transsolar orbit, taking it between Earth and Mars every 444 days. The Soviet rocket system KOSMTK Rocket II struck into the moon on September 12, 1959; a 35 hour journey. The TIROS (1960) supposed weather satellite was followed by the TRANSIT IB (1960) a supposed navigational aid system.
On August 12, 1960, the passive satellite named ECHO was placed into orbit, a 100 foot diameter mylar balloon having an anodized surface. While radiotelephonic signals were vastly improved by this method, television signals remained blurred and distorted. ECHO was the direct result of directives placed on the Space Agency, a Federal Bureau. The Army was developing its own communications satellite, an active system capable of serving the Army Signal Corps. Shortly thereafter, the COURIER active communications satellite system was completed. The launch proved unsuccessful, demanding the destruction of the entire package. Two months later, on October 4, 1960, a second version was launched. COURIER IB operated successfully for a period of 18 days before it failed. On January 19, 1961 the ATT project TELSTAR was placed in orbit by a Thor-Delta rocket system. TELSTAR used nickel-cadmium batteries charged by solar cell panels.
The great success of TELSTAR prompted a volley of similar systems. RELAY (1962) and SYNCOM (1963) followed. With only minor periodic adjustments, these Industry deployed systems continued to operate as planned. The glaring differences between Industry and Military deployments of space technology began to be noticed. By now, the obvious success of each Industry-developed space venture loomed over the failure of nearly every military space project with a disturbing poise. Ruling powers made the decisive movement, delegating authority to Industry, while conscripting military to its service. The needs of defense initiatives notwithstanding, Industry was given bureaucratic contract to develop new military systems in advance of possible hostilities from foreign competitors. Thereafter the “Space Agency”, a bureaucratic conglomerate which contracts Industrial laboratories, successfully launched a series of military satellites.
Born of nuclear fear, a new regime of reconnaissance technology was contemplated. The development of space technology was first predicated on the deployment of reconnaissance and possible weapons platforms. This was the sole theme behind the over propagandized “Race for Space”. The thought that hostile foreign forces might use these very potentials so threatened NATO that an immediate development of reconnaissance satellites took first place in the Agenda of the NAO. The actual use of rocketry specifically for reconnaissance began in Germany. Alfred Maul, in Dresden (1912), launched special rockets containing small automatic cameras. Others employed various aeronautic means to achieve high clarity, high resolution photographs of landscape. G. W. Goddard (1925) used high resolution cameras for night photography, trailing gliders which had been filled with explosive flares for lighting. Dr. R Goddard (1929) placed automatic cameras in the payloads of his liquid fuel rockets. Sidney Cotton (1939) was a privateer who took aerial photographs of Europe in anticipation of World War II, believing that peacetime reconnaissance would prepare against wartime. His tenets were well taken during the war, where high-speed stroboscopic flash systems were synchronized to special high sensitivity cameras.
After the Second World War, reconnaissance became a priority. The right arm of defense being weaponry, reconnaissance formed the left arm. One had to know what the antagonist was doing in order to be completely secure. In anticipation of Soviet attack under a dictatorial Stalin, NATO stepped up its reconnaissance operations. The least favored source of espionage-derived information was that obtained through human agents. CIA director A. F. Dulles distrusted human agents, preferring the hard data of photographs. The weak link in this chain of reasoning directly involved those whose task it was to interpret photographs thus obtained. This task increased in both difficulty and importance, especially as increasingly elevated aerial reconnaissance became necessary.
Boeing B-47 turbojets were converted and used in reconnaissance (RB-47), gathering photo intelligence (PHOTINT), and electronic intelligence (F.T.TNT). These flights were low speed, high altitude recon missions. Vulnerable to enemy fire, F-86 Sabrejets were then equipped for reconnaissance (RF-86). These were capable of extremely high speed recon missions, growing increasingly vulnerable to enemy heat-seeking missile fire. The fear of Soviet manned long-range bomber attack began with the first Soviet fissile bomb (1949), and grew to frenzied proportions with the first Soviet hydrogen bomb (1953). In March 1954 RAND presented CIA with a two volume study on “An Analysis of the Potential of an Unconventional Reconnaissance Method”. Bureaucrats were intrigued, but were consumed with the notion of more immediate and practical reconnaissance methods.
- CHAPTER 7