Space News reports House leader Dutch Ruppersberger thinks House and Senate plans to approve “exquisite” electro-optical imaging capability is likely. That effort would support the White House’s plan and is in conflict with Senators Bond and Feinstein who want a more commercial-based capability.
Also dribbling out are a few details for the exquisite system which boost its desirability vis a vis a commercial system like GeoEye. For example, James Clapper (now sporting whiskers–part of his tactical deception program to look less “former military“?), the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, said the aperture size would be 2.4 meters. This could provide six inch resolution. Fused with other systems or enhanced with software, that type of resolution could be expected to get better and not worse. GeoEye-1 has around a 18-inch resolution.
Next, new NRO Director Bruce Carlson (via DoD Buzz) pledged new NRO systems would be on-time, on-budget, and on-spec. Personally, I think that’s a check he won’t be able to cash, but I hope I’m wrong. Perhaps the NRO’s estimating and program management skills are now much improved, or at least more realistic.
Finally, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair went out of his way to praise the intelligence capabilities of our national technical means in finding Iran’s previously undisclosed nuclear facility at Qom.
So, going into the fourth quarter, “exquisite” has a significant lead, the ball, the wind at its back, and momentum. I’m betting on exquisite, brought to you by Lockheed-Martin.