Lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding the revelation that a third MISTY satellite was in the pipeline but over budget, NRO announced that it was canning its next generation of the data relay satellites.A senior National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) official told Jeremy Singer of SpaceNews and C4ISR Journal that the NRO has dropped plans for a new generation of laser-optic data-relay satellites.During a November 23 interview at NRO headquarters, Rear Admiral Victor See, NRO Director of Communications System Acquisition and Operation, announced that the Optical Relay Communications Architecture (ORCA) was being shelved in favor of incremental upgrades to the current generation of NRO data relay satellites (picture above, via Phil Chien) and the Defense Department's Transformational SATCOM.ORCA was canceled after Congress reduced funding for the program in the FY 2005 budget request. Congress also reduced the funding available to the Transformational SATCOM from $775 million to $475 million and expressed concern about the program.In case you are wondering, the existence of ORCA wasn’t a secret: Pete Teets mentioned it in his congressional testimony.--Jeffrey Lewis
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