National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a United States Department of Defense agency, formed in 1961, which designs, builds, and operates American reconnaissance satellites. President Dwight Eisenhower stepped up the development of spy satellites in the wake of the Soviet Union's shooting down of a U-2 spy plane, piloted by Gary Powers, in 1960. NRO satellites are used by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and other members of the American intelligence community. In recent years, NRO has declassified some of its earlier missions, including the 1960–72 Corona photoreconnaissance operation. In December 1996, NRO also gave, for the first time, advance notice of the launch of one its spacecraft. In September 2011, NRO declassified the KH (Key Hole) -7 (Gambit 1), -8 (Gambit 3), and -9 (Hexagon) satellites.