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Spy Satellites in the Cold War - The Real Space Race

by Mr Pat Norris, Space & Defence Strategy Manager, LogicaCMG
(Chairman, RAeS Space Group)

Wednesday 13 February 2008


LogicaCMG logo
LogicaCMG has been meeting the key challenges within the space sector for almost 40 years.

Public open lecture - All visitors welcome - No admission fee - No tickets required - Doors open 5:30pm

A CORONA capsule is recovered in mid-air over the Pacific Ocean.Introduction

"The real national battles, just as it was 50 years ago, are happening in the military sphere with several countries investing in military spy satellites". Pat Norris, globalsecurity.org

"It would have an enormous impact if a country were able to destroy those satellites". Pat Norris, guardian.co.uk

Following the Soviet triumph of Sputnik, a nervous world watched events at Cape Canaveral in Florida as America tried to catch up with its superpower rival. Meanwhile the American element of the real space race was taking place in California.

President Eisenhower inspects the first successfully recovered CORONA capsule.Driven by fears of a build-up of ICBMs, both countries developed spy satellites able to monitor the strategic arsenal of its rival. Satellites in the CORONA (USA), Zenit (Soviet) and related families were launched every couple of weeks for more than a decade as the superpowers strived to stay abreast of a dangerously escalating nuclear arms race. The political, military and technical stories behind these programmes are the subject of this lecture.

Two CORONA satellite images of the Soviet Union a year apart show a new ICBM site.The lecture also explains why the politically stabilising influence of these satellites is one of the lessons for today, given that new nuclear arms races are currently underway or threatened in several regions of the world.


June 1979: President Carter and Premier Brezhnev sign the SALT-II Agreement - a treaty underpinned by spy satellite imagery.Since the launch of Sputnik 1 on 04 October 1957, the contribution made by satellites to society has been enormous: instant awareness of sporting, political, and human events across the globe; immediate communication undreamt of 50 years ago; and the chance to see close-ups of planets and stars and share the excitement of astronauts in space. But this book casts a spotlight on a little-known aspect of the Space Age the military dimension and how the superpowers used spy satellites.

Today, military satellites represent 25 percent of all satellites in orbit. Pat Norris argues that the development of spy satellites has prevented nuclear armageddon. Mr Norris believes that the "race to the Moon" between the two superpowers was a side effect of the Cold War, and that the most important event was the use of spy satellites by military powers to prevent the Cold War becoming a "hot war". Pat will conclude by focussing on the regional tensions of today, and look ahead to what the future holds a time when spy satellites could be the only defence against a nervous nuclear power using its nuclear weapons needlessly.

 Pat Norris
Mr Pat Norris

About the speaker

Pat Norris has worked in the space and software industries since the 1960s. Born and educated in Ireland he started his working life in the UK at the radar laboratories of Elliott Automation.

He moved to the USA in 1966 working for the RCA Service Company at the Goddard Space Flight Center, supporting NASA's activities in precise orbit determination, gravity field modeling and satellite geodesy. In 1967 he joined TRW to work on the Apollo moon landing program in Houston Texas. He led a small team of engineers analysing the challenges of navigating between the earth and the moon, and around the moon. He received the Apollo individual Achievement Award from Neil Armstrong in August 1969 for his endeavours - in particular the determination of accurate geodetic locations for the one third of NASA tracking stations whose data had to be binned in the Apollo 8 mission. From 1971 to 1980 he worked for the European Space Agency as system and software engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope, the Meteosat weather satellite, the Aerosat navigation satellite and the OTS telecom satellite.

Since 1980, Pat has worked for multinational software company LogicaCMG (formerly Logica) in the UK. The company is now the European leader in space software - its software currently supports the missions of more than a third of the world's satellites. Space missions in which Pat has been involved in this role include the Giotto probe to Halley's comet, the Hipparcos star mapper, the Huygens probe to Titan, the Galileo navigation system, the Inmarsat-4 global mobile broadband network, the XMM X-ray astronomy observatory and the Skynet 5 military communications satellite.



17:30 Doors open:  Opportunity for networking
Refreshments:  Tea and biscuits


Welcome: John Loizou, Vice Chairman, RAeS Space Group


Presentation by Mr Pat Norris, LogicaCMG

Questions to the speaker
Further opportunity for networking (cash bar)
20:00 Close

Public open lecture : all visitors welcome : no admission fee : no tickets required

commencing at 18:00, refreshments served from 17:30

(prior RSVP by email or phone of intended attendance appreciated)

This lecture has been organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Space Group. The presentation will take place in the Lecture Theatre at 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ. Nearest underground station Hyde Park Corner. See location maps doc.. also multimap.com..  streetmap.co.uk..

For further details: Ms Hinal Patel, Conference & Events Department, Royal Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ. tel 020 7670 4345 fax 020 7670 4349 email conference@aerosociety.com

To receive details of the RAeS Space Group and other future events please an email to space@aerosociety.com with "subscribe" in the subject.

Related web sites: The Royal Aeronautical Society www.aerosociety.com  RAeS Space Group www.aerosociety.com/space/  LogicaCMG www.logicacmg.com/space/  "Spies in the Sky" www.spiesinthesky.com  More info.. www.aerosociety.com/conference/PDFs/SpaceFeb08.pdf