GRAB & Poppy Satellites
On 14 December 2006, NSA Deputy Director John C. "Chris" Inglis; Brigadier General Larry D. James, USAF, Director, Signals Intelligence Systems Acquisition and Operations Directorate, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO); and Captain Daniel Gahagan, Commanding Officer, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), unveiled the new POPPY Satellite Reconnaissance Program exhibit atthe National Cryptologic Museum.
POPPY was the successor to the Nation's first electronic intelligence satellite, known as GRAB ("Galactic Radiation and Background," its cover, or codename TATTLETALE), also on display at the Museum.
GRAB, the world's first reconnaissance satellite 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. A year later, on 29 June 1961 GRAB II was placed into orbit.
POPPY, NRL's follow-on project, became a multi agency satellite system when the NRO was established in 1961, shortly before the satellite was launched on 13 December 1962. It was designed to detect land based radar emitters and support ocean surveillance. Personnel who worked on the POPPY project made tremendous contributions to our Nation's security during the Cold War era, from 1962-1971, a span that included seven successful launches of POPPY satellites.Return to videos