The National Reconnaissance Office is a member of the United States Intelligence Community and an agency of the United States Department of Defense. The NRO is headquartered in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia,2 miles south of Washington Dulles International Airport, the Director of the NRO reports to both the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense and serves as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. The NROs federal workforce consists primarily of Air Force, CIA, NGA, NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office develops and operates space reconnaissance systems and conducts intelligence-related activities for U. S. national security. It also coordinates collection and analysis of information from airplane and satellite reconnaissance by the military services and it is funded through the National Reconnaissance Program, which is part of the National Intelligence Program. The agency is part of the Department of Defense and it has been proposed that the NRO share imagery of the United States itself with the National Applications Office for domestic law enforcement. The NRO operates ground stations around the world that collect and distribute intelligence gathered from reconnaissance satellites, according to Asia Times Online, one important mission of NRO satellites is the tracking of non-US submarines on patrol or on training missions in the worlds oceans and seas. The NRO was established on August 25,1960, after management problems, the NROs first photo reconnaissance satellite program was the Corona program, the existence of which was declassified February 24,1995, and which existed from August 1960 to May 1972. The Corona system used film capsules dropped by satellites, which were recovered mid-air by military craft, the first successful recovery from space occurred on August 12,1960, and the first image from space was seen six days later. The first imaging resolution was 8 meters, which was improved to 2 meters, individual images covered, on average, an area of about 10 by 120 miles. The last Corona mission, was launched May 25,1972, from May 1962 to August 1964, the NRO conducted 12 mapping missions as part of the Argon system. In 1963, the NRO conducted a mission using higher resolution imagery. The Lanyard program flew one successful mission, NRO missions since 1972 are classified, and portions of many earlier programs remain unavailable to the public. The first press reports on NRO started in 1971, the first official acknowledgement of NRO was a Senate committee report in October 1973, which inadvertently exposed the existence of the NRO. In 1985, a New York Times article revealed details on the operations of the NRO, the existence of the NRO was declassified on September 18,1992, by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as recommended by the Director of Central Intelligence. In total, NRO had accumulated US$3.8 billion in forward funding, as a consequence, NROs three distinct accounting systems were merged. The presence of the new headquarters was revealed by the Federation of American Scientists who obtained unclassified copies of the blueprints filed with the building permit application. After 9/11 those blueprints were apparently classified, the reports of an NRO slush fund were true. According to former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith, who led the investigation, in 1999 the NRO embarked on a $25 billion project with Boeing entitled Future Imagery Architecture to create a new generation of imaging satellites
NRO headquarters at night
Close-up of Atlas 501 payload fairing with NROL-41 satellite (poster commemorating 50 years of NRO).
Serum and Vaccine Institute in Al-A'amiriya, Iraq, as imaged by a US reconnaissance satellite in November 2002.
US Satellite imagery of Syrian tanks departing Da'el in Daraa province after several days of assaults against the town in April 2012.