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Friday, January 19, 2007

US Unable To Contact Military Reconnaissance Satellite

Beijing (Xinhua News Agency): US officials are unable to communicate with a costly U.S. reconnaissance satellite for the military and intelligence communities launched last year, a defense official said on Thursday. "Efforts are continuing to reestablish communication with the classified satellite, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars," the defence official told the media. "They have not yet declared it a total loss."

"There are still some additional steps that can be taken to restore communication," the official claimed, noting some satellites had been recovered in similar situations in the past.

The National Reconnaissance Office(NRO), which designs, builds and operates the satellites, had no comment.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics, said the satellite in question could be a classified NRO satellite launched into space on Dec. 14, 2006 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

"This is definitely a setback for the NRO, which has had an aggressive technology development program over the past few years," McDowell said. "It adds to the problems that the NRO is having transitioning to its next generation of satellites."
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