Created: 11/21/1984

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Potential for the Transfer of US Space Technology to the Soviet Union

National Intelligence Estimate

VolumeJuderoenls and Summary



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The loBowing m'cBtgcrtcc organiiotioni participated in the preparation ol the fstimato:

Ihe Control Intelligence Agency, the Dofonte Intelligence Agency, the Notional Security Agency, ond the intelligence ugonitoiion* ol the Deportment! ot Stole ond Ihe Ireomry.

Aho Participating:

Ittf ol Slofl lor InMfcgence. Deportment ol the Army lhe Oirector ol Ho-al InteligeAce. Otportmnf olovy Ihe Aiuttont Chief ol Stofl. ln>eB>ger<e, Deportment ol the Air Force Ihe Di.*clOr of Intelligence,orp!


Tbe evolving plans lor greater cooperation between the US Civil Space Program and those of US allies in Western Europe and Japan have given rise Io concerns about possible technological leakage lo lhe USSR The protected joint programs could involve lhe sharing of research and development information, advanced manufacturing tech-niques, and operational support in programs such as the space station.

This Estimate assesses the possible military-related benefits that the USSR could derive from (he transfer of specific US space technologies and identifies what we perceive to be lhe key Soviet needs related lo space technology. It also describes lhe Soviel program to acquire Western technologv. the methods wed, and the contributions that Western space technology have made to certain Soviet militaryand military-related spare programs.

The Estimate also assesses (he competence and vulncrabililies of the Soviet acquisition program, lhe prospects for the loss of IS technology by means of the iotnl space programs, and counlermeasures to reduce tliese prospective losses. There are also assessments of the intelligence gaps and the limitations that affect this Estimate.

Our conclusions are general and are intended lo support the development of overall policies and guidelines concerning cooperative space efforts with US allies Specific cases will have to be reviewed for technology transfer potential as thty arise and the terms of cooperation and details of control agreements are determined.

This Estimate does not address the impact of not havingspace programs wilh US allies

Our findings and analysis for this Estimate are in two volumes.

ey Judgments and Summary

Volume II: The Estimate


We believe thai joint space programs between the United Slates and its allies will, under current conditions, serve as conduils for theleakage of sensitive US technology to the Soviels. These technologies would be applied directly lo future Soviel military space and nonspacc military systems developments. To beast amount of valuable space-related lechnology already has been and continues to be obtained directly from US sources and used by the Soviets in applications ranging from their satellite data relay system to their developmental space transportation system, We expect that Western technology not controlled for national security, foreign policy, or competitive reasons will conlinue to be acquired by the Soviets. Our primary concern with respect to cooperative space programs with US allies is lhat the transfer to allies of controlled1 US technology substantially increases its vulnerability lo Soviet collectors.


^ihe Soviet lechnology acquisition program is large, well organized, well funded, and has in place the to collect both controlled and uncontrolledincluding espionage, trade diversions, and scientific exchange.

Our expectation for continued Soviel acquisition and use of US space technology is based, in part, on the record of Soviet activity in thisthat has already greatly benefited Soviel space and military space system developments:

There are several instances where certain Soviet spacecraft systems and subsystems are so similar lo US spacecraft systems or subsystems that wc can confidently assess that they have at least benefited greatly from, if not actually copied, Western technology or systems.

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Wc believe lhe Sovieli acquired considerable information on the US shuttlehermal protection system from lhe surface heating dala obtained from (he second and third shuttle flights These data were released to the public inASA estimates lhal the data could save the Soviets tbe equivalent0 millionost and corrsiderably reduce development time

We estimate that Soviet attempts to acquire space technology will be in areas needed lo support development of future systems or follow-ons to existing space and nunspace military systems rather than for systems in current production or in an advanced stale of development. Current assessments of Soviet technological capability identifyechnology areas that are crilical to possible Soviet space programs. Thesespace technology" areas affect somepace systems or system options for which we believe ihere are Soviel military needs and corresponding intelligence collection requirements. The Sovietswill not be able to satisfy all of these requirements through access to US-allied cooperative space programs.

A number of counlermeasures arc available, some of which are being applied by the United States andesser extent by the allies to protect sensitive technologies. With respect to the unclassified and uncontrolled technology, lhe most effective countermeasure is an awareness program coupled wilh security and distribution procedures to introduce uncertainty and time lags in the Soviet and East European technology acquisition process. As for trade, most key space-related hardware is already controlled, and efforts of COCOM members currently under way to reduce diversions will enhanceffectiveness, even if the measures are only partially successful.efforts by the West over ihc pasl iwo years have reduced, to some extent, the effectiveness of Moscow's clandestine technology acquisition operations

The Soviets regard all acquisition ol Western equipment and scientific and technical information in support of requirements set by Iheir Military-Industnal Commission (VPK) as an intelligence operation, regardless of who collects it or how il fa collected. These operations focus on technology that enhances Soviet military efforts, including space programs. Open-source publications (particularly NASAand NASA-funded contracted studies) constitute the Soviets' largest and most important source of US space technology Soviet collection requirements lhat cannot be satisfied by open sources, exchanges, or legal purcliases become clai"lesline targets to be reached by either illegal purchases or by traditional espionage methods.

Faced with the intensification of the military technologicalw illi tlie United States, and the growing importance of the spacelhe Soviets will continue lo increase their ec4lection effotts to oveictune Western controls covering space-related technology.lhe proliferation of commercial space capabilities among lhe Western allies and the establishment of cooperative space programs with (Item will widen the available targels for Soviel access It is possible that, as the Western allies develop and apply technology in their own space programs, they will become more cautious in their exchanges with the Soviels and more security conscioiis. It is likely, however, that the Soviet and Eastollectors will continue to find the allies to be inviting targets.


The Soviel program for acquiring Western technology is highly centralized, well funded, and supervised by the top political leadership. Tbe basic aim is to increase the military power nf the USSR, advance the quality of military and space technology, and modernize key industries. The strong military oricntalion of the acquisition program is reflected in the dominant role played by the Military-Industrial Commissionhich coordinates the development and production of Soviet weapon systems and also supervises the acquisition and assimilation of military and dual-use Western technology.

The Soviels regard all acquisition of Western equipment and scientific and technical information in support of VPK requirements as an intelligence operation, regardless of who collects it or how it is collected. Consequently, the Soviets designate as collectors lhe Ministry of Foreign Trade, llie Academy of Sciences, and many other Soviet institutions in addition to the KCB and the military intelligence organizationhe Easl Europeans arc increasingly involved in the collection program under Soviet tasking, and the Soviet intelligence services now consider Western Europe and Japan better sources of technology in many areas, and they find it easier to acquire US technology there than in the United States itself.

VPK requirements are issued lo the collectors in great detail. The requirements generally identify the items sought, their collection priorities, how long each requirement is valid, the Soviet ministry that levied the requirement, the most likely sources of the technology, and the budget for each acquisition. The requirementsroad spectrum of military hardware and related production technology and technical dala. They prolwhly arc revised and updated annually.

The VPK periodically evaluates the results and bene6ts of the collection program in terms of ruble and time savings for Soviel programs.

We believe lhat the Soviets' military and nonmilitary spaceexample, their developmental space transportationclearly benefited from acquired Western spaceincluding lhat from space piogiams Apparently, the principal benefits lhe Soviels have derived Irom the data and equipment they have collected have been shortening ol program development times and

tlie reduction of ruble expenditures for military-related space and other programs, the acceleration of technological developmenl. the removal of technological obstacles, the introduction of new concepts and programs, the cancellation of programs already under way. and the evaluation of their technology relative to thai of the West.

Open-source publications (particularly NASA documents and NASA-funded contractor studies) constitute the Soviets' largest and most important source of US space technology. In fad, we estimate that well over half of the Soviet intelligence services' acquisitions in the aerospace category have been unclassified. Wc believe such technical materials have been used directly in Sovietrojects, ranging from the developmental STS to space medicine.

The largest category of unclassified NASA reports collected by the Soviels concerned the STSj-particutarly lhe design and construction of the STS shuttle orbiter. (_

n the basis of this

reporting and construction activity at ihc production plants, we believe thathe Soviets made the decision to copy, with some modifications, the US shuttle orbiter.

We believe the Soviets acquired considerable information on the US shuttle orbiter's thermal protection system from the surface heating data obtained from the second and ihird shuttle flights. These data were released to the public inASA estimates that the data could save the Soviets the equivalent0 millionost and considerably reduce development lime.

The Soviet intelligence services work closely with the Stalefor Science and Technology fCKNT) and lhe Academy of Sciences at times to support legal purcliases of Western technology (for which normally scarce hard currency is made available) and scientific exchanges with Western universities and research centers. Through legal trade the Soviets have acquired kev production technologies such as powder metallurgy and numerically controlled machine tools.

Soviet scientific cooperation with Western countries since the, particularly with the United Slates and France,ignificant source of technology transfer. Soviet and Fast European technical


delegations aie generally of liigfi qualify and all ate used for I'-Ii.t.v sci.-isiilioand njlloq-.iiuiiis

as well as direel Soviet access to hardware and facilities, collectionsignificant technology has been facilitated. For example,space cooperation agreement has spanned tworecentlyen renewed until


Soviet collectionhai cannot be satisfied by open sources, exchanges, or legal purchase* become clandestine targets to be reached by cither illegal purchases or by more classic espionage methods Tlie Soviet intelligence set vices and the Ministry of Foreign Trade have developed fairly successful methods for diverting legal trade into illicit channels We have identifiedompanies operating fromountries that engage in illegal technology trade with the Soviets Most of the goods we have identified in illegal trade are dual-use products, controlled by GOCOM but diverted by Western brokers or by Soviet-control led dummy companies in the West to destinations in the USSR. The Soviet space program has almost certainly obtained through illegalizable amount of high-qualitycoaling equipment, computer-aided design andsystems, lubricants, composite technology, advanced(particularly Western massnd production technology for rocket engine casings, reactants for rocket fuels, and fiber-optic systems.

There are several instances where certain Soviet spacecraft systems and subsystems are so similar to US spacecraft systems or subsystems that wc can confidently assess that the Soviets have at least benefited greatly from, if not actually coined, Western teehnolouy or systems.

J Then ate other Soviet systems, such as (he clevelopmenlal STS, discussed later in this report where there is clear evidence thai the Soviets intended to copy the US systems

The Soviets also monitor the communications of US defense contraclorsQ

JThe Soviets can probably monitor the full range of US sa tell ite-baseo communication, and (hcv are expanding, their intercept capabilities-Soviet intelligence operations against Western space technology focus on classified and company proprietary information that will enhance the Soviel mililary space efforts US companies involved in research on and the development and production of space technologies are the main larger NASA's headquarters and three of its associated research centers are also prime targets as are lhe targe West European and Japanese firms and government agencies engaged in spaceThe volume of material collecled by Soviet intelligence through clandestine means has been small compared with the vast amounts collected overtly, bul we estimate thai space lech oology acquired clandestinely hasore direct and significant impact on Soviet military programs lhan acquisitions from other means when compared on an ilem-by-ilem basis.

^Nevertheless, olhei mechanisms such as open-source collection have conlribuled more to lhe overall Soviet space effort through sheer volume of information collecled

We estimate thai Soviet attempts to acquire space technology will be in areas needed to support development of future or follow-on systems rather than for systems in current production or in an advanced

state of developmenl. ll is the praclice in Soviet space and defense industry lo require lhat lhe necessary technology be already provenecision is made lo proceed wilh the development phaseeapon program Even though new technologies become available in the development phase, they are not used normallyollow-on modification is undertaken There is probablyuilt-in lag of some live toears between the acquisitionew technology and lis appearanceielded weapon system. 'The Soviets generally do not



ew system until theysure of all lhe technology lo be used Tliey have such confidence in Western lechnology. however, that ihey will accept and incorporate much of il without (lie extensive testing that accompanies an indigenous technological developmenl. We have recenl examples of lechnology being incorporatedielded weapon system within Iwo to three years of its acquisition

Current assessments of Soviet technological capabilitY identifyechnology areas lhat are critical lo possible Soviet space programs. Some of these technologies, of course, will also be applicable to nonspacc military piograms. Thesereas affect somepace systems or system options for which we believe ihere are Soviet military needs and corresponding intelligence collection requirements. The critical Soviet space lechnology areas are




Signal processing.

Command and control (including artificial intelligence and robotics)

Guidance and navigation

Power sources.


Directed energy.

Life support systems.

Large Structure lechnology.

Material lechnology.

Attitude control

Future Soviet developments in space and other advanced military systems will also benefit from access lo Western developments related to reliability, quality control, and manufacturing of complex equipment and supporting management procedures-Faced with the intensification of tlie mililary-technologicalwith the United States and lhe growing importance of lhe space arena, the Soviels will continue lo increase their collection efforts to overcome Western controls covering space-related technology.live proliferation of commercial space capabilities among the Western allies and lire establishment of cooperative space programs with tliem widen the available targets for Soviel access ll is possible


tlial. as lIk* Western allies apply sensitive technology in their space programs, they will become more cautions in their exchanges with the Soviets and more security conscious. It is likely, however, that the Soviet and Eastollectors will continue to find the allies to be inviting targets.

The USSR has begun lo diversify its joint space programs for political reasons and for greater Sexibility in acquiring Western technology Termination of the US-Soviet planetary data exchange program has led the Soviets to seek closer cooperation with the European Space Agencynd Moscow is encouraging US scientists to maintain contacts with their Soviet counterparts through West European intermediaries. The USSR will be viewed as an attractive partner by West European scientists to tbe extent that Moscow offers programs of interest to them (such as lunarars chemical analysis orbiter. and missions lo the outerhe Soviets will gain some propaganda benefit by presenting their programs as peaceful, scientific explorations, and will cultivate lhe good will of the European scientific community in order lo gain access to new Western

We believe thai joint programs between lhe United States and its allies on the one hand, and between these allies and the USSR on the other, will under current conditions serve as conduits for the increased leakage of US technology lo the Soviets Our major concern with the joint US-allied space station project is thai it willransfer of US design know-how to the allies. As indicated by past performance, Moscow probably will succeed inhannel into the space station project through the allies and gain valuable insight into US design concepts.

A number of counterincasures are available, some of which are being applied by the United States andesser extent by the allies to protect sensitive technologies Counterespionage efforts by Ihe West over the past two years have undoubtedly hutt Moscow'sperations. The Wesl in this area has probably taken its most effective actions against Soviet acquisition As for trade, most key space-related hardware is already controlled, and heightened awareness of the technology transfer problemrrenl efforts in the enforcement of export controls of COCOM should reduce diversions even if these counterincasures are only partially successful. Similarly, the cooperative efforts of law enforcement agencies against the relatively small number of known diverters of lechnology to the Soviets could be stepped up, and harsher penalties imposed.

A much more difficult area lo control is technological transfer bv individual scientists meeting with their Soviet and East European


counterparts. Western academic and scientific communities generally underestimate or ignore the intelligence functions of Soviet and East European students, engineers, and scientists and the potential for technology loss through scientific exchange Awareness programs, visitor screening, and improved security proceduies, includingwhen appropriate, would be effective in controlling technology losses in (his area

The timely fulfillment of collection requirements is of central importance because the USSR's military andrograms, for the most part, include only those Western technologies lhat are obtainable wilhin the time constraints of its developmenl plans The key. therefore, to impeding the introduction of new. more complex, and capable Soviet space systems thai require significant contributions of Western technology is to increase the designers' uncertainly lhal this technology will be available al the lime lhe pivotal developmenl decisions have lo beove to introduce more delay and uncertainty into the data flow could impose on thetheir practice of selecting proven technologies (or applications early in the development of new.greater expenditure of their ownoss in systems capability,elay in meeting their goals.

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