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SpaceX successfully deploys inaugural set of new surveillance satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)

Today, the National Reconnaissance Office successfully deployed an undisclosed quantity of advanced surveillance satellites into space.

The NROL-146 mission was initiated by launching a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Wednesday morning. This mission marks the initial phase of establishing a forthcoming constellation of intelligence satellites.

This mission marks the initial deployment of the NRO’s distributed systems, which are designed to collect data quickly and deliver it promptly. According to the NRO, the NROL-146 mission represents the initial deployment of a functional system following previous demonstrations to confirm its cost-effectiveness and performance.

The agency has not revealed the specific number of satellites in the initial launch or the desired total number for the constellation.

Although specific information is limited, Reuters has previously stated that SpaceX and Northrop Grumman are collaborating to construct a covert satellite network for the NRO.

The covert intelligence agency, renowned for its classified activities, is currently enhancing its space infrastructure to augment its data collection capabilities for the Pentagon and the intelligence community. The NRO has previously announced its intention to increase the number of satellites it has in orbit by a factor of four.

“In the upcoming decade, we will further augment the quantity of satellites in operation.”

Multiple orbits are a complement to the NRO’s advanced satellites.

“We are enhancing the traditional hallmark of the NRO by incorporating responsive and proliferated systems,” stated Troy Meink, the principal deputy director of the NRO. “Our expanded systems will improve the speed of access, broaden communication channels, and strengthen our ability to recover from challenges.”

According to the agency, the NRO is intending to carry out approximately six launches for the new architecture this year, with more launches anticipated until 2028.

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