A Bleak Planet
NRL Satellite Facility
Located in Waldorf, MD
Photo © 2005 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
NRL Satellite Facility History
Located in Maryland, this area was once a Nike missile base (W-45 NIKE-1 Battery No. 7) until it was deactivated as a functional silo in 1962. From 1962 until 1993, the area was used by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Microwave Space Research Facility Program. Most of the existing structures were completed in 1967, and included a parabolic dish antenna, transmitters, and a low-noise receiving system. In addition, the facility was also equipped fully for satellite tracking, data processing, and communications modulation experiments. It was used extensively during the Vietnam War as part of a special operation called "Compass Link," established by the Defense Communications Agency to pass high-quality target photography from Vietnam to Washington, DC.
Compass Link was established using two DSCSI satellites providing two hops: Vietnam to Hawaii, and Hawaii to Waldorf, Maryland. From Waldorf the imagery was transmitted by land line directly to the White House and the Pentagon. Source: "From the Sea to the Stars". Chapter 2, Satellites for Strategic Defense
The facility was decommissioned by the United States Government General Services Administration (GSA), and was publicly auctioned off in 1998, then repurchased by a private investor in early 2000s.
The right to demolish and scrap the dishes and other structures has been auctioned on Ebay on March 13, 2005, a bidder won for $136.20. As of late 2007, the large dish has been removed from the base and is being cut for scrap.