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12 September 2012

Declassifying the Space Race

To: <intelforum[at]>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2012 12:49:34 -0400
From: IntelForum Mailing List <intelforum[at]>
Subject: [Intelforum] Two-part article featuring documentation on the Space Race appearing in print

Greetings Everyone.

Thought I would post this latest news to the forum here about my research efforts in regards to publication on the subject of the US Intelligence Community’s Cold War knowledge.

A two-part article serial by me is appearing in the September and October 2012 issues of Aerospace America, a magazine published by the AIAA here in the States (Washington, DC area). Part 1 is out now; Part 2 will appear in the first week of October.

Its title is “Declassifying the Space Race.” Both parts are illustrated with photographs and diagrams (and a Soviet poster or two). And part 2 even has a facsimile of page excerpts from an NSA ELINT report, with its original classification stamping intact­“Top Secret Zarf Umbra.”

Some highlights include, in theme, and example:

a) Recently declassified materials (a substantive proportion released in late 2011, as well as of 2012 vintage) that bring attention to some of the equipment used, as well as some “first glimpses” as to what information that equipment was able to capture;

b) As space exploration and rocketry launches advanced in the USSR, increasingly potent US surveillance capabilities provided unprecedented levels of detail, via remote observations of Soviet activities and assets (my article serial concentrates on the remote observational things­I do not feature materials acquired otherwise, like HUMINT or in situ communications tapping);

c) An examination of the characteristics of the data that was captured by US eavesdropping systems (how good was it?), as well as what information actually reached US policy makers, such as the President, and what that contemporaneous information (as events were taking place) imparted to the President encompassed (answering the question, how accurately were the analysts interpreting what was happening?);

d) Materials featured include RADINT, ELINT (old-style definition, meaning telemetry intercepts), PHOTINT, and with one satellite system, infrared-based MASINT.

e) Featured information was acquired/sourced from CIA, NSA, NASIC, NRO, US Navy, and General Electric; indeed, two intelligence document families­both generated on a daily basis­have materials appearing in my two-part article for the first time in print.

Most major university libraries carry the Aerospace America periodical, for those who wish to read the article serial directly.


Peter Pesavento


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