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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): U.S. Military Uses of Space, 1945–1991

About this Collection

This collection of previously classified histories, program management directives, requirements studies, and other documents show the evolution of a variety of U.S. space programs — historically among the most highly classified documents of the U.S. government. Topics range from a 1951 report on using satellites for reconnaissance to a 1990 briefing paper on air support to Operation Desert Shield.

Research Value of the Collection

The U.S. Military Uses of Space collection provides the first extensive documentary record of the highly sensitive military space activities of the United States. Researchers now have access to documents concerning four basic areas of U.S. military space activity: organization, policy, military support systems (communications, meteorology, reconnaissance and other satellites), and space weaponry (anti-satellite weapons and the Strategic Defense Initiative).

The collection provides details concerning the origins of military space programs, the evolution of programs and policy, the capabilities of various space systems and the operational use of space systems. The organization and functions manuals in the set provide detailed data on the structure and role of organizations involved in space systems development and operations.

Through the histories, memoranda and organization and functions manuals, the researcher will be able to identify, for different time periods, the organizational players and space operations of the United States government.