Now the Pentagon Just Dials up Google Earth
November 11, 2007
Failure to Launch
Death of Spy Satellite Program
By May 2002, the government’s effort to build a technologically audacious new generation of spy satellites was foundering.
The contractor building the satellites, Boeing, was still giving Washington reassuring progress reports. But the program was threatening to outstrip its $5 billion budget, and pivotal parts of the design seemed increasingly unworkable. Peter B. Teets, the new head of the nation’s spy satellite agency, appointed a panel of experts to examine the secret project, telling them, according to one member, “Find out what’s going on, find the terrible truth I suspect is out there.”
The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2 billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office.
. . . Despite its relative inexperience, Boeing was given responsi…