Re: Ir 27 tum & others

Mike DiMuzio (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 23:08:54 +0000

> What is GREB an acronym for?


Other Designations: Solrad. Code Name: Greb. Class: ELINT. Nation: USA. Agency:
Manufacturer: NRL. Total Length: 0.5 m. Maximum Diameter: 0.5 m. Total Mass: 18
kg. Electric
system: 0.01 total average kW. 

GRAB, the first US electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite, was not
declassified until June
1998. The project was originally called "Tattletale," then renamed GRAB. Since
the true nature
of the satellite was supposed to not be apparent to the Russians, this was
revised to GREB
(the acronym Galactic Radiation Experimental Background was retroactively
dreamed up to
explain the name). To further muddy the waters the satellites were launched
under the title
SOLRAD (the cover purpose being to study solar radiation). 

Work on GRAB began around the time of the first successful Vanguard launch. Reid
Meyo of
the Naval Research Laboratory Countermeasures Branch had developed an electronic
intelligence antenna for submarine periscopes. At the same time NRL was seeking
military exploitation of the Vanguard satellite that it had developed. Reid was
sitting in a hotel
restaurant in Pennsylvania one night and got the idea that they could simply put
his periscope
antenna in orbit aboard a Vanguard. The original calculations, in the best
tradition of aerospace
engineering, were done on the restaurant placemat. 

GRABís receivers were used to catalogue the waveforms and pulse repetition
frequencies of
Soviet air defence radars. GRABs were launched not by Vanguard rockets but as
piggy-back or
cluster payloads with other satellites. One inert dummy was used to prove the
multiple satellite
launching technique. Of five operational GRAB satellites, only two reached orbit
and operated
successfully. GRAB data was given by NRL to the Strategic Air Command and the
Security Agency (which may indicate communications were also intercepted). 

Operational ELINT satellites were taken over by the NRO, and remain classified. 


41.087N  80.722W 330 meters

Mike DiMuzio