The patch for the NROL-39 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex-3E in California. It took off Dec. 5, 2013 carrying the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite (GEMSat) payload to “perform a variety of unique scientific experiments and demonstrate high-technology operational concepts,” (PDF) according to the NRO.

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When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched an Atlas V ferrying a GEMSat classified payload in December 2013, the mission’s logo set off a public firestorm of sorts.
The mission logo, or patch, from the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is of a giant, orange-ish-colored octopus sitting atop Earth. “Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach,” read the logo for the NROL-39 mission. The office of the Director of National Intelligence published a picture of the logo-patch on Twitter hours before launch, tweeting that the “Atlas 5 will blast off just past 11PM, PST carrying an classified NRO payload (also cubesats).”
The launch came as the Guardian was publishing one leak after the other from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The leaks detailed that the US National Security Agency was, among other things, exercising digital domination across the world’s fiber optic lines. So a spy agency’s cartoon depicting total world domination was an untimely public relations failure given the focus Snowden was bringing to the US surveillance state.
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