Welcome to the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation. The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

  • ...The nation’s brightest young minds to consider careers in STEM and cyber related fields

  • ...Robust dialog with the American public on cyber policy, technology, and privacy

  • ...Those who “served in silence” with valor and distinction, especially those who gave their lives in service

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Polish mathematicians & code breakers made the first breakthroughs against Nazi Germany's Enigma code.......

1960: GRAB, first reconnaissance satellite, launched.

Monday, June 22, 2020
1960: GRAB, first reconnaissance satellite, launched.

GRAB - ("Galactic Radiation and Background," its cover, or codename TATTLETALE), was the world's first reconnaissance satellite and is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum. GRAB was in the final stages of development by the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at the time of the loss of Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane on 1 May 1960.

Following the U-2's shoot-down President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the cancellation of all further manned reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union, the void to be filled with a series of satellite launches. GRAB I was the first of these and rose into orbit on 22 June 1960 atop a Thor-Able-Star rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The successful launch of the GRAB II satellite occurred on 29 June 1961.

The GRAB satellites had a dual mission. The unclassified mission, from which the satellite earned its name, was to gather solar radiation data. The secret mission involved the signals intelligence package carried aboard the satellite. It gathered radar pulses within a specific bandwidth from Soviet equipment.

Photo from NSA Anniversary Timeline: Naval Research Lab Team at Cape Canaveral for spin test of GRAB1 atop Transit 2A. (Left to right) Martin J. Votaw, George G. Kronmiller, Alfred R. Conover and Roy A. Harding

View our Video Exhibit page regarding the GRAB and Poppy Satellites via the link below.

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On This Day In History


  • Rumrunning trial against Consolidated Export Corporation began with the case built upon Elizebeth Friedman's cryptanalysis of the company's encoded messages.

About Us

The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. We think you will agree it is truly a "museum like no other."

Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCMF acquires the best artifacts for the NCM and supports new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCMF provides exceptional cryptologic programs throughout the year, encourages young minds to explore cryptology and innovation through valued awards, and hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events.

As part of the Foundation's partnership with NSA to build the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation - Home of the National Cryptologic Museum (CCEI-NCM), the NCMF also serves as a leader in the field of cybersecurity - striving to provide the best in educational resources and programs.

The NCMF and NCM share a joint three-fold mission to Educate, Stimulate, and Commemorate. Learn more about our MISSION.