VT Education Series: Satellite Missile Detection Notes




Conspiracies are tough to kill and in this case some mysterious aspects really make me and others wonder. One of these has to do with the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites and a fantastic Freudian slip on the part of a government spokesman. Basically, the DSP satellites are extremely sensitive infrared cameras in orbit over the Earth intended to monitor the launch signatures of (Soviet) ICBMs.



Classy, USAF artist’s rendering of DSP in deep space.

TRW built the DSP satellites and also the famous KH-11 “KEYHOLE” series spy satellites.

But they also serve other purposes, like spying on missile tests done by other countries. Since this is a spy system the full capabilities are a guarded secret, but we know that even though they orbit at 22,300 miles, something like an aircraft on afterburner or the Russian missile attack on a Grozny market can be easily verified, as has been reported in the media. These satellites also recorded the TWA 800 explosion, but what’s more critical is, did DSP see the TWA missile plume? After all if around 100 eyewitness’ saw it then DSP should have seen something. The DSP satellite could not have seen the aircraft explosion yet not seen the missile, or whatever that bright streak of light was! Yet that’s exactly what the Air Force claims. It’s possible the brief burn-time of the small rocket motor may have been difficult to detect … but wait, the story gets even more interesting. During one press conference the man in charge General Estes said, “I looked at it when I was the J-3 here when TWA 800 was shot down.” What was that, shot down?

Psychologically this seems like a subconscious attempt by a basically honest individual to counter one or more lies with the truth, as you’ll see below. Not surprisingly his statement was quickly corrected with another press release and since this is a key element and for accuracy here is the exact memorandum, and besides, some of what he says is so weird one has to read it to believe it!

Memorandum: No. 035-M

March 13, 1997


During the course of the on-the-record briefing by Gen. Howell M. Estes, Commander in Chief, U.S. Space Command, at the Pentagon, conducted Thursday, Mar. 13, 1997, Gen. Estes responded to a question regarding TWA Flight 800. Gen. Estes at one point said: Gen. Estes did not mean to say TWA 800 was “shot down.” In the context of his response to the questions, it is clear that he mispoke and meant to say “went down.”

The corrected transcript of the question and answer sequence is printed below with the correction in brackets. Copies of the transcript and video tape are available in the Directorate for Defense Information. Q. “Gen. Estes, I’m sorry to have to bring this up, but in Pierre Salinger’s controversial report about the shootdown of TWA 800, he charges that the U.S. Space Command has refused to release information about a U.S. spy satellite that was overhead on the night of the disaster and–quote–recorded important information about the shootdown. Can you put that into any kind of perspective at all? Is that true? Or can you tell us if there’s anything to that at all?” Estes. “Again not to give you a long answer. Let me give you a direct answer.

I’ll guarantee there’s nothing like that out there. I’ve looked since I’ve been there. I looked at it when I was the J-3 here when TWA 800 was shot [went] down. I’m not telling you that there wasn’t a missile that caused this problem. I don’t know. As we know the National Transportation Safety Board has said there are three options on what happened. This is their business. What I’m telling you is that in the military I was here when that incident happened, and I know the steps we went through. We went back just to make sure something hadn’t been missed somewhere and took a missile count of every single missile we had–Army, Navy and Air Force–to make sure that something didn’t happen that we weren’t aware of.

We looked at the location of every aircraft to make sure we knew where everything was–where ships were–and we validated to the best of our ability, and I have to say that there isn’t anybody who’s going to have better information than this, and we are convinced that the military was not involved in this in any way, shape or form. Now, was there a missile attack? We have people who said that they saw a missile. We had people back when it happened who said they saw a missile.

And the investigators that are looking at this have determined there is, to the best of their ability, they have not been able to find any evidence of this either in the pieces of TWA 800 that have come off the bottom of the ocean nor any verification anything that they’ve seen off of any location either on the shore or at sea. This investigation continues. But there is nothing–back to your exact question to me–there is nothing at Space Command that we know of that has anything to do with Flight 800 that hasn’t been released. Clearly, the defense support program–the DSP satellites–did see the explosion of Flight 800 because of its infrared source that it was.

And we saw it falling. And so that‘s the piece of information that we had from the beginning from the U.S. Space Command. We still have it today. Nothing’s changed. That was all seen. We know of nothing–” Q. “That doesn’t show in any way, that doesn’t confirm any missile theory or add any credence to the missile–” Estes. “It does not. And I would tell you to be very blunt and very factual about this that the infrared source out of a small missile is not intense enough to for us to see with these space- based systems. That’s the fact. OK?” Questions concerning this Memorandum for Correspondents should be referred to Col. Richard M. Bridges, Director for Defense Information, (703) 695-9082 or Lt. Col. Don Planalp, U.S. Space Command, (719) 554-3525. FROM:http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar1997/m031397_m035-97.html

Now General Estes is an expert on space defense systems, he knows exactly what the DSP satellite system can actually do; he should since he was commander of NORAD and the US Space Command. Somebody is lying here, either Estes is not telling the truth on what DSP saw or 100 eyewitness got an upward streak confused with down and their temporal sense skewed as well. But it gets worse, at the end he says”…that the infrared source out of a small missile is not intense enough to for us to see with these space- based systems”. How does he know it was a small missile?! Indeed how does he know it was a missile at all! Is this twoFreudian slips in one poorly conducted speech? Or is it that he just was parroting Salinger’s claims (which he seems to know a lot about oddly enough) in order to refute those ideas? Besides the above two cases he also says they saw TWA 800 explode and saw it falling, but then doesn’t that make it obvious the system can track small moving infrared objects thereby contradicting his assertion?

All right then, assuming that DSP can’t detect small missiles, what about large missiles? I’ve already established that it couldn’t have been a conventional Manpad. I’d like to see Estes say DSP couldn’t detect missiles, because that is the whole intention of the satellite system! The DSP has had five improvements in its lifespan and I don’t see any limitations that would prevent it from tracking the contrail of a small missile against the flat cold Atlantic backdrop.

Either way no DSP image of the event has ever been released (that I know of) which merely adds another question to the mystery.


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