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Stealth Satellite

New Spy Satellite Debated On Hill
Some Question Price and Need

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page A01

The United States is building a new generation of spy satellites designed to orbit undetected, in a highly classified program that has provoked opposition in closed congressional sessions where lawmakers have questioned its necessity and rapidly escalating price, according to U.S. officials.

The previously undisclosed effort has almost doubled in projected cost -- from $5 billion to nearly $9.5 billion, officials said. The National Reconnaissance Office, which manages spy satellite programs, has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the program, officials said.

The stealth satellite, which would probably become the largest single-item expenditure in the $40 billion intelligence budget, is to be launched in the next five years and is meant to replace an existing stealth satellite, according to officials. Non-stealth satellites can be tracked and their orbits can be predicted, allowing countries to attempt to hide weapons or troop movements on the ground when they are overhead.

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