Preserving Science and Technology

The National Reconnaissance Office launched six satellites in the last seven months, said Bruce Carlson, who heads the organization. “Though that’s not a record by any means, they were pretty complex satellites and that’s the best we’ve done in about 25 years,” he told reporters last week in Washington, D.C. Roughly 60 percent of the technology on those satellites was organic to NRO, which is why maintaining the organization’s level of science and technology activity—even as NRO prepares for dwindling budgets—is critical, he said. Right now, NRO’s S&T budget is roughly 5 percent, but Carlson said he was “able to preserve” the historical level of about 8 percent in the organization’s Fiscal 2013 budget build. He said NRO attacked its Fiscal 2013 budget in three ways: protect its people, protect baseline programs, and protect S&T. “I’ll take money out of [operations], out of maintenance, and other things to protect those things,” he said. That could mean less people on the floor “who look at stuff” and less people working on collaboration or integration, he noted. “I don’t know what’s going to happen after Nov. 1 …, but right now, I’ve been able to protect that level of investment,” said Carlson.