35+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Space Policy

May 7, 2021 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., May 7, 2021 – U.S.-Soviet cooperation in space was a regular, if less noticed, feature of the final years of the USSR and continued well after the emergence of independent Russia, a compilation of declassified documents and interviews posted today by the National Security Archive underscores.  In the second of a two-part posting, records from Russian and American archives highlight the successes of joint operations ranging from the Shuttle-Mir program to the International Space Station. 

Apr 12, 2021 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., April 12, 2021 – Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight 60 years ago, which made him the first human in space, prompted President John F. Kennedy to advance an unusual proposal – that the two superpowers combine forces to cooperate in space.  In a congratulatory letter to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive, Kennedy expressed the hope that “our nations [can] work together” in the “continuing quest for knowledge of outer space.”  

Dec 20, 2016 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., December 20, 2016 – Soviet missile and space programs were among the most frequent topics briefed to the president of the United States by  U.S. intelligence during the administrations of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford, according to a review of recently declassified excerpts of the President’s Daily Brief posted today by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University.

Apr 10, 2015 | Briefing Book
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.

Feb 4, 2015 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, February 4, 2015 – During much of the Cold War Soviet space activities — civilian and military — were a major focus of U.S. intelligence collection and analysis. As one of the key areas of technological competition with Moscow — one where the Soviet Union jumped to an early lead in some space activities — the space race generated profound concern in Washington over the need to understand and respond to new developments. To that end, U.S.

Jul 20, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, July 20, 2014 – Forty-five years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong took his "one small step" for mankind, becoming the first person to set foot on the moon. The program that resulted in that historic event — managed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — had been a very public one ever since its announcement by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Even the Soviet government had publicized aspects of its own effort. But there were also highly secret elements to the U.S.

Nov 27, 2012 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, November 27, 2012 – In the forty years since the first launch of a commercial imagery satellite – LANDSAT – in 1972, U.S. official policy has shifted dramatically from imposing significant limits on their capabilities to permitting U.S. firms to orbit high-resolution satellites with significant intelligence-gathering capacities. According to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive, internal debates within the government have focused both on the risks of adversaries exploiting such commercial platforms and on the potential benefits for the U.S.

Oct 4, 2012 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., October 4, 2012 – Today, the National Security Archive posts the fourth in a series of electronic briefing books concerning secrecy and satellite reconnaissance - one of the most sensitive areas of U.S. intelligence-gathering. Specific satellite programs whose declassification is covered in this briefing book include some of the earliest and, at the time, most secretive programs of their kind: CORONA, ARGON, LANYARD, GRAB, POPPY, GAMBIT, HEXAGON, and QUILL.

Sep 18, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., September 18, 2008 - Today, on the 16th anniversary of the declassification of the fact of the existence of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and National Reconnaissance Program (NRP), the National Security Archive publishes a collection of documents concerning the declassification decision and its implementation. The NRO and NRP were established in 1961 to coordinate the satellite reconnaissance activities of the CIA and Air Force. As the documents illustrate, the issue of NRO declassification was considered as early as 1973.

Nov 9, 2007 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., November 9, 2007 - In anticipation of the planned launch of the final Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite tomorrow evening, which was originally scheduled to be orbited in October 2005, the National Security Archive has posted on the Web a collection of declassified documents tracing the history of the program from its roots as Subsystem G of WS-117L in 1957. At that time the U.S. began seriously planning to deploy satellites that would detect the infrared signals emitted by intercontinental ballistic missiles in order to provide warning of a Soviet missile attack.

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