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Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture [IOSA]

The NRO is developing the collection architectures of the future that will ensure US Information Superiority as called for in Joint Vision 2010. In the area of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), NRO is introducing an Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture (IOSA) that will improve SIGINT performance and avoid costs by consolidating systems, utilizing medium lift launch vehicles wherever possible, and using new satellite and data processing technologies. At the urging of Congress, NRO has initiated the study phase for the follow-on architecture, IOSA-2. These systems are intended to be increasingly responsive to operational needs and the military is an integral partner and participant in NRO space missions. As the NRO begins this revolutionary research and development (R&D) program and new acquisition efforts for SIGINT, military partners are helping shape the next generation of satellites.

IOSA-2 studies focused on whether a a new space-based SIGINT architecture could significantly improve collection from space of the numbers and types of signals expected to be critical to military and intelligence users in 2010 and beyond. Plans for IOSA-2 called for a move away from large [5-ton or heavier] spacecraft in favor of a larger number of smaller spacecraft. While the NRO anticipated retaining at least a few large SIGINT satellites, much of the collection effort was going to be offloaded to smaller satellites. In late 2000 the NRO and NSA decided not to invest in a new generation of SIGINT satellites, and instead continue with the current spacecraft configurations. The SIGINT community will consequently continue to operate within the bounds of the current Integrated Overhead Sigint Architecture (IOSA-1). Continuation of IOSA-1 benefits Boeing, which bought the Hughes' satellite manufacturing business where most SIGINT spacecraft are built. Moving to a new IOSA-2 architecture could have allowed another company to compete in this market.


Spacecraft Family

By © Charles P. Vick 2005-7 All Rights Reserved

04-12-07 — 12-20-07


The opinions and evaluations stated here in are only the author’s and cannot be construed to reflect those of any Government agency, company, institute or association. It is based on public information, circumstantial evidence, Vendor documents, informed speculation, and declassified U.S. intelligence community documents, official US government documents and histories, oral histories, interviews and reverse engineering analysis. As with all data regarding the intelligence space programs of the US intelligence community, this analysis is subject to revision--and represents a work in progress.

IOSA, (Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture

 NSA’s IOSA, (Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture has long since ended in a far worse fiasco than the FIA’s collapse in 2005. In late 2000 the NRO and NSA decided not to invest in a new generation of SIGINT satellites, and instead continue with the current spacecraft configurations. The SIGINT community will consequently continue to operate within the bounds of the current Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture (IOSA-1).

Ongoing Smaller Inflatable SIGINT Dish Design Studies

 Serious consideration were directed at the development of a constellation of smaller packaged inflatable dish design spacecraft for Atlas class launch technologically ground and flight testing either through the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s payload Spartan 207/IAE technology demonstration of 1996 or other programs revealed issues that the technology was apparently not able to successfully overcome before program commitment to the required replacement spacecraft preparation. Work on perfection of variations of this evolving technology and its deployment structures seem to be ongoing in USAF laboratories with not merely inflatable structures but also more rigid self deploying support light structures being introduced into the mix that may yet make such a low earth orbit SIGINT architecture constellation possible in the future.

The abandoning of the IOSA, common low earth orbit one smaller SIGINT dish design too serves the whole intelligence community Intruder and Prowler design has had a major delaying impact on the SIGINT follow–on architecture designs. It was declared as an unworkable low earth orbit design concept and they have since returned to some of the Follow on Mentor , Trumpet and Mercury class programs with apparently the same similar large dish designs as before. The large wrap-rib white bleached gold mesh dishes essentially serve as a ground receiving communications station in high earth orbit. Precisely which programs have remained is uncertain but at least one of the follow-on spacecraft programs may have been dropped and a common dish design may perhaps have been accepted. Funding wise it is understood that it was far worse than the FIA expenditure losses except for NSA holding to its own “Holy Grail” of not discuss it. The new dish design packaging, deployment, mass, and mission requirements were among the many issues apparently involved in the programs demise consideration of a very large “TRW AstroMesh like class dish design or smaller inflatable dish design. Launches of the follow on spacecraft are expected between 2008 and 2011 utilizing essentially the same government design 59.86/65.0083 foot long metallic shroud specifications similarly used in the previous SIGINT Titan-4 launches. The exception being that the Lox Hydrogen upper stage is the same diameter as the shroud reducing the over all shroud length and adding to the mass savings.


Some of the Conceptual IOSA dushes

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:49:37 ZULU