NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy, Washington Post
"The U.S. government's secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens. They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics."
"Working in secret with a small band of astronomers for the last couple of months, Dr. Grunsfeld, famous as the Hubble telescope's on-orbit repairman, has now come up with a plan, which is being presented to the public on Monday."
Keith's note: Even though NASA officials have been made available to the Washington Post and New York Times, a NASA PAO representative tells me that NASA will not be issuing any official statement on this topic. This is totally bizzare. NASA suddenly gets handed the equivalent of two Hubble Space Telescopes (apparently) for free, NASA folks talk to two newspapers, and then that's it? Not even a "thank you" note? I am told that there may be a media telecon today. Stay tuned for an update.
Keith's update: There is a media telecon at 2:00 pm today. I will live blog it at @NASAWatch. Also NASA PAO apparently contacted a few reporters about something in advance - but did not tell not others - and now they are backpeddling saying that they did contact me when in fact they did not. It is time for someone to admit that they made a mistake. Also, there will be no press release or statement from NASA because NRO told NASA not to issue one. But NASA did make NASA employees and advisors available to the New York Times and Washington Post. This story gets weirder with every passing hour.