The World’s Largest Spy Is Listening

Shhh, it’s a secret.

Spying from Space: U.S. Launches World’s Largest Satellite

The United States has just launched the largest satellite ever to orbit earth; while its exact purpose is secret, we know it’s not going to be monitoring the weather.

Its mission will be to gather intelligence for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The satellite, dubbed NROL-32, was sent into orbit yesterday by a Delta 4 Heavy rocket —the largest unmanned rocket with the most powerful liquid-fueled booster. U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director Bruce Carlson said the NROL-32 would be “the largest satellite in the world.”

All this superlative hugeness isn’t likely just a result of Americans’ obsession with size; in fact, the NRO launches almost as many small vehicles into space as it does large ones. More to the point, however, NROL-32 has a very important job: replacing a slew of Cold War-era satellites currently in orbit past their expiration dates.

Carlson gave an address (links to a PDF that’s a good read on the bureaucracy of space) last month in which he stated that the agency had adopted a new charter and “a remarkably aggressive launch campaign” to go along with it.

See also:
U.S. Launches Largest Surveillance Satellite
U.S. Launches Largest-Ever Spy Satellite: Report
World’s Largest Satellite Launched On Sunday
Classified spy satellite launched from Fla.
Delta IV Blasts Off with NRO Satellite
Spy satellite called world’s largest
‘Eavesdropper’ satellite rides huge rocket from Florida
Air Force Launches Massive, Secret Spy Satellite
US launches giant eavesdropping satellite
“National Reconnaissance Office Update”
National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office

My guess is that this is a very large communications vacuum cleaner and there’s a very good chance and that no electronic communication on the planet is safe from interception.

/of course, theoretically, the NRO isn’t allowed to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, but can the satellite tell the difference?

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