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E-300 Enhanced Collection System

The Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) is the NRO's initiative to define, acquire and operate the next generation imagery satellite architecture. The Enhanced Imaging System (EIS) represented the next generation of raw source material for exploitation within the US Imagery and Geospatial Information System (USIGS) Architecture, NIMA and NIMA's external customers. EIS consists of two effectivities, E-300 and E-305, that will provide new capabilities to the USIGS. The USIGS must be capable of tasking, processing, archiving, disseminating, and exploiting EIS data. Many aspects of E-300 and E-305 will impact NIMA USIGS systems and programs which must be carefully assessed for proper integration throughout its entire life-cycle. Data format changes (E-300-Enhanced Collection System (ECS)) and new capabilities (E-305-new radar capability) will result from these two effectivities.

Advanced Optical Systems

By the late 1990s NASA was studying a proposed Next Generation Space Telescope. The NGST was to be a much larger version of the Hubble Space Telescope (8 to ten meters aperture, versus 2.7 meters). The cost of the NGST was to be a fraction of the HST, ~0.5B versus >$1B. The need was therefore for technologies that can increase the collecting area by ~10X while simultaneously reducing the mission cost by a factor of two or more.

Lightweight optics are of crucial importance in weight and cost reduction. The purpose of the primary mirror in a telescope is to collect and focus the light. The function of the rest of the telescope is to support and point the mirror with precision, and to collect the data by CCD. If the mirror can be made lighter, then the rest of the system (mirror cell, tube, mount, etc) become much lighter also. The telescope costs less and becomes easier to move around. The ratio of telescope weight to primary mirror is quite high. It is about 6 for space telescopes. If the mirror weight can be reduced by a factor x, then the overall telescope weight can be reduced by at least 6x. This is an underestimate since the ratio of system mass to mirror area is not a linear function.

There are a number of competing lightweight optic technologies (lightweight glass, beryllium, silicon carbine, etc). The figure of merit used for comparison is areal density, defined as mirror area divided by mirror mass. Using the lightest material, beryllium (which is toxic), the achievable areal density (ratio of collecting area to mirror weight) is about 20 kilograms per meter squared (20 kg/m2). As a reference point, the areal density of the Hubble Space Telescope primary mirror (glass with egg crate support) is about 180 kg/m2.

The traditional way of making mirrors starts with a piece of glass which is ground and polished to shape and coated with a reflecting surface, usually aluminum. The aluminum film reflects and focuses the light, not the glass. The function of the glass is to keep the aluminum in the proper shape. This traditional technique is limited by the need for a minimum substrate thickness that will not distort or allow print-through of support structures.

The replication technique for mirror production uses a mandrel, usually glass, which is first polished to shape. A piece of graphite fiber reinforced composite (GFRC) material is then applied. After curing the GFRC forms a shell which has the shape of the mandrel. The shell is separated from the mandrel and coated with a reflecting surface. In the replication process the GFRC shell is only as thick as it needs to be to maintain optical shape, typically a few millimeters.

2005 FIA Restructure

In July 2005 a panel reviewing FIA recommended that Boeing stop work on the electro-optical spacecraft, the primary component of the FIA program. Boeing evidently had over-promised and under delivered. While Boeing was experienced with launch vehicles and communication satellites, it had little experience in large electro-optical systems. The launch of the first electro-optical spacecraft had slipped from 2005 to 2009. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence met in executive session on July 22, 25, and 26 2005 to hold hearings on the results of the Future Imagery Architecture Red Team Review. Testimony was heard from departmental witnesses.

Roger Roberts, the veteran Boeing executive who oversaw the company's intelligence programs, abruptly stepped down in August 2005. Boeing named Howard E. Chambers vice president and general manager of Space & Intelligence Systems (S&IS), an operating division of Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). Chambers reported to Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems. Chambers was responsible for leading the people, programs and assets of the company's intelligence and space programs. These include Boeing's Satellite Development Center, Information Systems, Mission Systems and critical elements of the Future Imagery Architecture program. He also was Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc.

In September 2005 it was reported that the Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte had decided to take away from Boeing Co. much the multibillion-dollar Future Imagery Architecture contract as a result of cost overruns and delays. Intelligence officials decided to transfer much of the work to rival Lockheed Martin.

Under the revised plan, Lockheed would build the electro-optical satellite. Lockheed Martin undertook to build a spacecraft from spare parts from the current generation of secret electro-optical reconnaissance satellites. Boeing would continue developing the less complex imaging radar spacecraft, which was the smaller portion of the program. Boeing remained the prime contractor.

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