History Of The National Reconnaissance Office

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The history of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spans over 70 years despite its much shorter 55-year existence and encompasses a tale of necessity and opportunity in the face of newly emerging technologies in the late 1940s and early 1950s (Richelson, 2012, p. 36). This paper will discuss the vast and rich history of this intelligence agency, its duties, and responsibilities as well as its limitations and the challenges it faces to accomplish its mission. Finally, we will look at how and why this agency is associated with the intelligence community as well as it effectiveness throughout its long existence. The true origin of the NRO can be traced back to May 2, 1946, with the release of the Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship report by the Douglas Aircraft Company’s Engineering Division. This report, which came more than 11 years before the successful launch of Sputnik, discussed the feasibility of space satellites from an engineering standpoint as well as the significant contribution they could make to man knowledge and ability to gather information over a wide spectrum and area (RAND Corporation, n.d.). This documents also led to a follow-on document that was described as a “riveting observation” by the head of Project RAND’s Missile Division, Mr. Jimmy Lipp. Mr. Lipp stated that: Since mastery of the elements is a reliable index of material progress, the nation which first makes significant achievements in space travel will be
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