6 January 2001

Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 23:03:28 -0500 (EST)
From: "James B. DiGriz" <jbdigriz@dragonsweb.org>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re:NSA abandons wondrous stuff

On Fri, 5 Jan 2001 mailbot@sunspot.net wrote:

Wilfred forwarded this story to you from www.sunspot.net, Maryland's Online Community. To view this story on the web go to


No shit. Glad it was rescued from the bulldozers and put to good use again.

This has to be the old satellite uplink site and tracking center in Rosman. It was the major, if not the only, such site on the East Coast for some time, if I recall. There were intelligence functions even then, too. We were told the same thing about the dome; among other things, it was to prevent prying eyes from discerning what the antenna was looking at.

I'm at a loss, though, to figure the need for a level of secrecy that would preclude acknowledgement that there was an antenna inside, when everybody knew it anyway. Especially any spies. What, everybody just forgot all of a sudden? I'm sure the NSA was a lot more restrictive than NASA, but this is ridiculous. This sounds to me like journalistic hyperbole, or maybe just a gool 'ol boy having fun at the expense of a reporter.    

I took one of those school tours in '69 or '70. I remember them showing us live network video feeds from Europe and such. No doubt the NSA added some stuff, but contrary to the breathless implications in the article, at least from what I remember, almost all that stuff was there back then. The tunnels, guardhouses, dishes, the dome, the redundant diesel generator sets, fuel bunkers, etc. I can't remember if the carpet was welded down back then, but that was the level of detail this place was built too. 

It was designed from the start to be self-sufficient and remain operational in pretty much any emergency short of a direct nuclear strike. At the time, it was a vulnerable linchpin in the global telecom infrastructure, and given the times, no expense was spared or contingency unplanned for.

I highly recommend anyone go see it if they get the chance. I also welcome any corrections or additions to 30-year old schoolboy memories.


Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2001 10:14:58 -0500 (EST)
From: "James B. DiGriz" <jbdigriz@dragonsweb.org>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re: NSA abandons wondrous stuff

On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, James B. DiGriz wrote:

> I highly recommend anyone go see it if they get the chance. I also welcome any corrections or additions to 30-year old schoolboy memories.

Ok, I'll correct myself then. It never was a commercial satellite communications center, but the 85 ft. VHF dishes sure could pick up commercial traffic. It did do telemetry for a lot of vital birds, too.

It was the 2nd of NASA's STDN (Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network) VHF telemetry stations, opening in 1963. The first was outside Fairbanks, Alaska. Mostly for unmanned LEO satellites like GEOS-3, but also used when needed on manned missions like Apollo-Soyuz. Data could be routed in real-time to other NASA telemetry stations like Wallops Flight Center for digitizing and processing, or taped and mailed. So there were some serious phone lines running into the place even then.

It was mainly used for NASA missions, then, and some DOD stuff. I'm sure some other TLA's had some presence, as well. You can easily see why the NSA would be interested in it, at any rate, given what we know about Echelon now. And it was already built to the nines, isolated, secluded, and crawling with security systems.

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute has a website at


that has more informatation and lots of pictures. See especially