1 9 4 5 - 1 9 9 1

Focus of the Collection

Military Uses of Space, 1945-1991 provides a detailed record of the strategic importance of the U.S. military space program from the conceptualization of the uses of space to the present realization of advanced capabilities. Rarely seen documents--many published here for the first time--provide insight into U.S. policy towards the military uses of outer space. Scholars will find immediate access to information concerning:

Military Space Programs
Previously classified histories, program management directives and requirements studies show the evolution of a wide variety of space programs. It is possible to trace the original requirements for different systems as well as early attempts to develop space systems to satisfy the requirements, and to examine the operation of actual systems from the late 1950s to the present. Specifically, documents from the l 950s through 1989 show the evolution of space-based systems to detect missile launches and nuclear explosions. The documents reveal initial problems in developing such systems, bureaucratic warfare between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force, the initial launches of the satellites developed, problems with the satellites, and the overall history of the satellites' operations.

Space Policy
Documents from the 1950s to the present reveal the basic principles and policies underlying U.S. space programs. Researchers will find documents concerning U.S. strategy for dealing with the international political consequences of deploying military space systems, the objectives of deploying such systems, the priorities assigned to achieving various space capabilities (such as reconnaissance), and the exten t to which space operations were to be conducted under a veil of secrecy.

Space Weaponry
Annual reports, histories, and other documents reveal the evolution of U.S. plans and programs to develop and deploy space weaponry--which includes anti-satellite weapons and the Strategic Defense Initiative. The documents demonstrate how concepts for space weaponry have changed, the results of various tests, and present plans for future space-based weaponry.

Sample Catalog Entry

(56790) 1985/10/11
The ABM Treaty and the SDI Program
Secret, National Security Decision Directive, NSDD 192 2 pp.
Origin: United States, National Security Council
From: Ronald Reagan
Index: Ronald W. Reagan asserts that re-examination of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 26 May 1972 revealed that a broader interpretation of the treaty is justified, but the U.S. will continue to pursue the Strategic Defense Initiative program along the lines already established.

Sample Subject Index Entry

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 26 May 1972
Ronald W Reagan asserts that re-examination of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of May 1972 revealed that a broader interpretation of the treaty is justified, but the U.S. will continue to pursue the Strategic Defense Initiative program along the lines already established.
1985/10/11 (56790)

Sample Document Titles

USARSPACE Support to Desert Shield, U .S. Army Space Command, Briefing Paper.

The ABM Treaty and the SDI Program, National Security Council, National Security Decision Directive #192, Secret.

National Space Policy, National Security Council, National Security Decision Directive #42, Top Secret.

Flight 9 False Reports, Aerospace Defense Command, Unclassified.

Required Operational Capability for an Improved NUDET Surveillance and Reporting System, Aerospace Defense Command, Report.

Space Systems Policy, Department of Defense, Directive, Confidential.

The Air Force in Space 1969-70, Office of Air Force History, History, Secret.

Planning Implications for National Security of Outer Space in the 1970s, Department of State Policy Planning Council, Report, Secret.

George Rathjens "Vulnerability Discussions with Reference to MIDAS, " Lockheed Corporation, Report, Secret.

The Threshold of Space: The Air Force in the National Space Program 1945-1959, Office of Air Force History, Report, Secret.

U.S. Policy on Outer Space, National Security Council, Report, Secret.

An Earlier Reconnaissance Satellite System, Rand Corporation, Report, Secret.

Utility of a Satellite Vehicle for Reconnaissance, Rand Corporation, Report, Confidential .

Praise for Military Uses of Space, 1945-1991

"This unique collection offers an in-depth record of the U.S. military's often super-secret activities in outer space. Dr. Richelson's years of research using the Freedom of Information Act and his own extensive sources have yielded a product that is a must for scholars, policymakers and students focusing on the U.S. space program, space policy, and national security issues. The documents are accompanied by a lengthy chronology and series of glossaries--including the most complete listing of satellite launches available anywhere. The index ensures researchers pinpoint access to names and subjects down to the document level."

John Pike
Director of Space Policy
Federation of American Scientists



Military Uses of Space, 1945-1991


Reproduces on microfiche approximately 700 documents totaling over 15,000 pages recording military uses of space from 1945 to 1991.


Documents are categorized by four basic areas of U.S. military space activity: organization, policy, military support systems, and space weaponry. The areas are arranged chronologically within each category. For ease of use, the unique identification numb ers assigned to the documents are printed in eye-legible type at the top right hand corner and precede each document on the microfiche strip.


Documents are reproduced on silver halide positive- reading microfiche at a nominal reduction of 24x in envelopes. They are archivally permanent and conform to AIIM, BSI and ANSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard will be replace d free of charge.


A printed guide and index totaling approximately 1,000 pages accompanies the microfiche collection. The Guide contains an events chronology, glossaries of names, organizations, space systems, technical terms, acronyms and abbreviations, a comprehensive ta ble of launch listings, a bibliography of secondary sources and a chronological listing of documents. The Index provides in-depth, document-level access to subjects, individuals, and organizations.

Date of Publication:

January 1992

Orders and Inquiries

The Military Uses of Space Editorial Board

Dr. Desmond Ball, Head, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University

William E. Burrows, Director, Science and Environmental Reporting Program, New York University

John Pike, Director of Space Policy, Federation of American Scientists

Dr. Paul Stares, Brookings Institution

The National Security Archive Project Staff

Dr. Jeffrey Richelson, Consultant and Project Director, is a Senior Fellow at the National Security Archive. Dr. Richelson is noted for his scholarship in the field of U.S. and foreign intelligence. Dr. Richelson has authored numerous books, articles, and reviews on intelligence and espionage, most recently America's Secret Eyes in Space, 1990, the history of U.S. spy satellites.

Tomomi Kimura, Research Assistant
Dwayne Day, Research Assistant

Return to National Security Archive Microfiche Sets.