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Onizuka Air Force Station, Sunnyvale

In the heart of Silicon Valley is a facility operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to process data obtained by American spy satellites. This facility is also rumored to be used to eavesdrop on i ivilian communications satellites.

Onizuka Air Station is named after Ellison Onizuka, an astronaut Killed in the Challenger disaster. It’s easily recognizable by the “Blue Cube,” a square glass-sided building that is readily visible from Highway 101, Silicon Valley’s main drag (actually, the Blue Cube is more 11irquoise than blue). It looks like just another high-tech building in •ilicon Valley, and indeed it is high-tech it is where the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office downloads transmissions from orbit-1111′ spy satellites and interprets the data. However, the days of this

What’s There: Inside the Blue Cube are supposedly powerful supercomputer systems to collect, process, and analyze process downloaded image data and intercepted communications. Onizuka is home to the An Force’s 750th Space Group and 21st Space Operations Squadron, uni is also responsible for managing and networking spy satellites and military communications satellites.

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Kny Facilities: The Blue Cube is the main facility at Onizuka, along with vnral large dish antennas used to receive signals from satellites. The Incilities occupy 128 acres.

Sue ret Stuff: The photographic resolution of American spy satellites is H’portedly capable of reading the license plates of parked cars on the Hiuimd. And, by law, American spy satellites are not supposed to be n .nil to spy on American civilians. Yet a Reuters report on March 13, i1,1 ‘9 noted that American spy satellites were being used to monitor ivilian boat traffic in the Florida Keys. According to the report, this was done for environmental impact studies, not to detect drug running. But of course!

Rumors abound that some American spy satellites are capable of intercepting transmissions from civilian communications satellites. Since it would be illegal for the military to eavesdrop on civilian communications, this rumor is undoubtedly false. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

Getting a Look Inside: No way in hell; forget it.

Getting There: Onizuka is located approximately 37 miles south of San Francisco and 11 miles north of San Jose on Highway 101 at the Mathilda Avenue exit; the Blue Cube is clearly visible from Highway 101.

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