BOX 1.1

Milestones in NGA Core Areas for Defense and Intelligence Purposes

Year

Event

1813

Congress authorizes the Topographical Engineers to conduct surveys to facilitate the safe movement of troops for the War of 1812

1862

Observation balloons are used to take aerial observations during Civil War campaigns in Virginia

1917

Aerial photography becomes a major contributor to battlefield intelligence during World War I

1922

Sounding data are collected from a Navy ship for the first modern bathymetric chart

1941

Second World War aviation enables photogrammetry, photo interpretation, and geodesy to replace field surveys

1953

Project U.S. Magnet is created to measure magnetic variations around the Earth; the program continued until 1994

1956

U-2 aircraft carry out manned reconnaissance missions, becoming the primary source for intelligence gathering over the Soviet Union and other denied areas

1960

Successful return of imagery from CORONA, the first photoreconnaissance satellite system in the world

1960

Development of a World Geodetic System (WGS 60), which defined a best-fitting ellipsoid and an Earth-centered orientation system and formed the basis of current global positioning systems

1966

Launch of the Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite, the first satellite for geodetic studies

1973

Start of the Special Mission Tracking Program to obtain atmospheric observational data in support of scientific space operations

1974

First electronic dissemination of near-real time, near-original quality access to national imagery to assist in rapid targeting and assessment of strategic threats

1987

The Navigation Satellite Timing and Ranging (NAVSTAR) Global Positioning System (GPS) becomes operational, providing accurate and continuous data on position, velocity, and time under all weather conditions

1995

The Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) becomes operational

1996

Creation of Earth Gravity Model 96, improving accuracy in GPS readings, determination of satellite orbits, and geodetic satellite measurements

2000

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) begins to acquire elevation data over about 80 percent of the Earth’s surface using interferometric synthetic aperture radar

2006

Different versions of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, a remotely piloted aircraft designed for reconnaissance become operational in service.

SOURCE: NGA historical reference chronology, <https://www1.nga.mil/About/OurHistory/Pages/default.aspx>.

NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

NGA is one of sixteen federal agencies responsible for national intelligence. Its focus is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. Issues that have a component of “where” or “when” potentially fall under the purview of NGA.

Most of NGA’s efforts are devoted to the provision of data, intelligence and services to users now and in the near future. Positioning the NGA for future capabilities is the responsibility of the InnoVision Directorate, which analyzes intelligence trends, technological advances, and emerging approaches to forecast possible environments and identify future needs. Demands for



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