The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched a new spy satellite Thursday evening on mission NROL-39 -- and the new logo and tagline are quite an eye opener.
The new logo features a giant, world-dominating octopus, its sucker-covered tentacles encircling the planet while it looks on with determination, a steely glint in its enormous eye. The logo carries a five-word tagline: “Nothing is beyond our reach.”
Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst with the ACLU, raised a quizzical eyebrow at the new slogan.
“Advice to @ODNIgov: You may want to downplay the massive dragnet spying thing right now. This logo isn't helping,” he wrote.
An agency spokeswoman told Forbes that there's a very good reason for the symbol: The octopus is intelligent, and therefore a good emblem for an intelligence agency.
“NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide,” said Karen Furgerson, a spokeswoman for the NRO. “‘Nothing is beyond our reach’ defines this mission and the value it brings to our nation and the warfighters it supports, who serve valiantly all over the globe, protecting our nation.”
The NROL-39 mission was classified, as are nearly all missions and satellites launched by the secretive NRO. It was carried aloft by a United Launch Alliance rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 11:13 p.m. PST, according to NASAspaceflight.com. Because the launch trajectory matched that used by other launches, it was likely carrying a third satellite for the agency’s radar reconnaissance fleet, the site said.
Along with its secretive payload, the rocket also carried the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite (GEMSat) payload, which contained 12 “nanosatellites” that will perform a variety of science missions.
The NRO mission is to design, build, launch, and maintain America’s intelligence satellites.
"Whether creating the latest innovations in satellite technology, contracting with the most cost-efficient industrial supplier, conducting rigorous launch schedules, or providing the highest-quality products to our customers, we never lose focus on who we are working to protect: our Nation and its citizens," its website says.