Space: December 16, 2002


The replacements for America's current KH-11 photo and Lacrosse radar spy satellites may not be available in time. The new birds have been in the design and development stage for several years and are behind schedule. There are thought to be three each of the KH-11 and Lacrosse satellites in orbit and the U.S. either has to build and launch replacements in the next few years, or the existing ones will wear out and leave America with less, perhaps no, satellite reconnaissance capability. To avoid that problem, the CIA (which supervises the work of the National Reconnaissance Office) will shift $600-900 million in addition development funds to get the work on the new satellites back on track. The new birds are not supposed to be radical improvements over existing satellites, but they do have to work reliably and get built and launched on time. 




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