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Index, Declassified NRO SIGINT AFTRACK Experiment

In 1959, CIA’s Office of ELINT was briefed on the Intelligence Community’s concern that the Soviets might be constructing antiballistic missiles or radars to track or even interfere with the US tracking of the DISCOVERER satellites. CIA decided that a small, self-contained electronic payload attached to the aft rack of the DISCOVERER Agena vehicle would be capable of detecting any Soviet tracking or interference with the S-band beacon used on the Agena vehicle. The experiments were approved in November 1959 and, given their location on the vehicle, became known as AFTRACK payloads. The goal was to build systems that could be developed in less than nine months that could operate reliably for a long enough period of time to answer urgent intelligence questions and provide input to the design of collection systems then under development. AFTRACK became known as “vulnerability” payloads because of their part in an NRO program to determine the susceptibility of reconnaissance satellites to hostile Soviet activities.

The first AFTRACK was called SOCTOP. It was mounted on the aft rack of the DISCOVERER 13 Agena vehicle successfully launched on 10 August 1960. The AFTRACK effort concluded with DONKEY launched on 24 July 1967. Payload configurations over this period of time changed as new and improved tracking radars appeared and as collection payload technology improved. Contributions of the AFTRACK payloads included revealing a high density of Soviet radars, monitoring Soviet radar tracking of US reconnaissance satellites, and producing the locations of Soviet communications transmitters.

 
Doc Title Date Pages
1 AFTRACK Program Overview 16-10-61 30
2 AFTRACK Program Description 05-01-62 1
3 TAKI for Mission 7204 16-10-62 4
4 SIGINT Satellite Capabilities and Requirements 18-12-62 21
5 Assessment of Possible Soviet Threats to Satellite Reconnaissance 19-12-62 1
6 STOPPER Payload SIGINT Potential 01-01-63 1
7 PLYMOUTH ROCK ELINT Reconnaissance System 25-02-63 58
8 Interim COMOR Guidance Re: Satellite SIGINT Target Objectives and R&D Need: 1 11-03-63 6
9 Interim COMOR Guidance Re: Satellite SIGINT Target Objectives and R&D Need: 2 18-03-63 10
10 Memorandum for the Chairman, SIGINT Working Group, COMOR: Satellite SIGINT Mission Descriptions 19-03-63 3
11 Interim COMOR Guidance Re: Satellite SIGINT Target Objectives and R&D Need: 3 17-04-63 4
12 Current Satellite SIGINT Requirements 19-04-63 35
13 Technical Description STOPPER Reconnaissance System 05-07-63 13
14 Technical Description NEW JERSEY Reconnaissance System 25-07-63 30
15 Project STOPPER 06-08-63 3
16 Wild Bill II Report 23-08-63 2
17 Results of SIGINT Satellite Collection: Extract from a DIA Briefing of 13 September 1963 26-09-63 12
18 SIGINT Guidance to the NRO 24-10-63 8
19 Report 162-STOPPER New Idea 18-02-64 2
20 Satellite Coverage of TALL KING 29-02-64 2
21 Summary of Results Obtained from Satellite SIGINT 30-03-64 8
22 Satellite ROB Coverage of TALL KING Radars 16-04-64 3
23 Radar Order of Battle Objectives-TALL KING 16-04-64 4
24 Report 210-STOPPER Developments 01-05-64 2
25 Report 214-STOPPER and BIT Developments 08-05-64 2
26 Report 234-STOPPER and BIT Status 20-06-64 1
27 Report 240-STOPPER and BIT Developments 27-06-64 1
28 Soviet Radar 01-08-64 4
29 OPPORKNOCKITY System Technical Description -Preliminary 28-08-64 5
30 Addendum to Technical Report for Plymouth Rock  22-10-64 11
31 Final Report-BIT Mission 7051 25-11-64 9
32 Final Report-BIT Mission 7052 11-12-64 8
33 NRO SIGINT Program, Long Range 01-01-65 4
34 Final Report-BIT Mission 7053 29-01-65 12
35 Final Report-BIT Mission 7054 05-02-65 6
36 Final Report-BIT Mission 7055 17-02-65 6
37 Final Report-BIT Mission 7056 14-05-65 16
38 Final Report-BIT Mission 7057 26-05-65 11
39 Final Report-BIT Mission 7058 01-06-65 7
40 Final Report-BIT Mission 7060 25-06-65 14
41 Satellite SIGINT Launching Schedule 11-08-65 3
42 SQUARE TWENTY System Technical Description Mission 7223 12-08-65 59
43 Final Report-BIT Mission 7062 01-10-65 14
44 STOPPER and BIT Funding 18-11-65 2
45 Final Report-BIT II Mission 7063 24-12-65 13
46 Final Report-BIT II Mission 7064 19-05-66 10
47 Status of Overhead Photographic and SIGINT Reconnaissance 27-05-66 2
48 Final Report-BIT II Mission 7065 17-06-66 12
49 Validated Collection Requirement for the DONKEY Payload 20-10-66 2
50 BIT Boxes 01-12-66 2
51 Report to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board on the National Reconnaissance Program, May 1 to December 31, 1966 01-01-67 3
52 AFTRACK 1960 - 1965 Poster 1 01-01-67 1
53 AFTRACK 1960 - 1965 Poster 2 01-01-67 1
54 BIT Program 19-11-69 4
55 SIGINT Reconnaissance Failures/Anomalies During Period June 1960 Thru March 1973 01-03-73 6
56 SIGINT Satellite Story: Part of Chapter 5 01-12-94 31

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