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Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Declassified Records Trace Hidden Interactions Between NASA & Military Space Programs


NASA's Secret Relationships with U.S. Defense and Intelligence Agencies 

Declassified Records Trace the Many Hidden Interactions Between the U.S. Civilian and National Security Space Programs 

Secret Cooperation Punctuated by Disputes over Budgets, Encryption of Scientific Data, and Fallout from the Challenger Tragedy 

Washington, DC, April 10, 2015 – Furnishing cover stories for covert operations, monitoring Soviet missile tests, and supplying weather data to the U.S. military have been part of the secret side of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since its inception in 1958, according to declassified documents posted for the first time today by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org).

James E. David, a curator in NASA's Division of Space History, obtained the documents in the course of researching his critically praised book, Spies and Shuttles: NASA's Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA (University Press of Florida, 2015). David has compiled, edited and introduced more than 50 of these records for today's posting.

Even though Congress's intention in forming NASA was to establish a purely civilian space agency, according to David a combination of circumstances led the agency to commingle its activities with black programs operated by the U.S. military and Intelligence Community. This often tight cooperation did not, however, keep disputes from bubbling over on issues such as cost sharing, access to classified information, encryption of data originally intended for civilian use, and delays to military satellite launches caused by the Challenger disaster.

Over the years, classification restrictions have kept most of the story of NASA's secret activities out of the public eye. Today's posting brings to light previously unpublished primary source material that underpins Spies and Shuttles and other important literature on the subject. The records were acquired through agency declassification review procedures, specific declassification requests, and archival research.

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