NRL's GRAB Satellite Displayed in Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

4/26/2005 - 21-05r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

On March 18, 2005, the Smithsonian Institution placed the Naval Research Laboratory's GRAB satellite on display in its Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC. NRL developed and built GRAB, which stands for Galactic RAdiation and Background, a U.S. Navy electronic intelligence reconnaissance satellite system. The United States launched the initial GRAB system on June 22, 1960, as its first operational intelligence collection satellite. GRAB's mission was to gather information about Soviet air defense radars that could not be obtained by U.S. reconnaissance aircraft operating on the periphery of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. In June 1962, NRL officially, though secretly, transferred operational control of GRAB to the then recently established National Reconnaissance Office.

The GRAB exhibit is located just inside the Museum's main entrance, on the left. It is situated next to the display of Corona, the nation's, and world's, first imagery intelligence reconnaissance satellite, which had its first successful launch in August 1960. The GRAB spacecraft is mounted on a pedestal at floor height for close viewing, with storyboards explaining its intriguing place in the pantheon of military space history as America's first operational intelligence satellite system.

NRL Press Release 41-98r

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