Why The Sky Spies Missed The Desert Blasts

The two $1 billion-apiece KH-12 satellites the Pentagon has in orbit are like Hubble space telescopes pointed back to earth. From 164 miles up, their optical sensors can snap clear photographs of objects no larger than a paperback novel on the ground. The two Lacrosse satellites, same price tag, with solar-power panels that stretch the length of half a football field, have radar-imaging cameras that can see through clouds and even the dust storms that swirl around India's Pokhran test site. In a crisis, at least one of the four birds can be positioned over a target 24 hours a day,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!