Documents pertaining to the base remained classified for decades. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Several newly declassified documents have lifted the lid on Area 51 and the struggle to keep it a secret.
It was only a few months ago that the first documents acknowledging the existence of the base were released to the public. Far from being a home to captured alien technology however these documents revealed the base to have been a testing ground for a number of more conventional operations such as the U-2 and OXCART aerial surveillance programs.
Unsurprisingly, during the Cold War there was great concern over the potential for the Soviets to obtain images of the base using spy satellites. A newly released National Reconnaissance Office document from 1962 outlines the rationale behind taking photographs using America's own satellites of the base in order to see what, if anything, the Soviets could see if they should attempt to photograph it themselves.
Another document that was released outlines concerns over an incident in which astronauts on the Skylab space station took a photograph of the base from orbit. In a letter from the deputy director of the NRO, the document outlines the merits of retaining the photograph "as a high-priority secret national security installation versus the merits of the NASA belief that there would be domestic and foreign problems created by withholding the photograph."
In the end the photograph was released and placed in a satellite remote sensing data repository.
Source: Space.com | Comments (33)