According to the Associated Press, the House and Senate intelligence appropriations committees cut approximately $1.7 billion in funding for 2008 and 2009.
The National Reconnaissance Office was supposed to buy and launch two commercial-like satellites around 2012 under the program called the Broad Area Space-Based Imagery Collection satellite system, or BASIC, the article continued. Instead, approximately $300 million has been set aside for the Pentaon to determine whether it needs additional satellite imagery, and, if so, to help start a new program.
Imagery from satellites lets scientists literally get the "big picture" of what's happening in large-scale environments, such as weather and pollution. In addition, by looking at imagery using different spectrums, such as infrared, scientists can also study pollution, amount of water in an area, and changes in vegetation such as deforestation. Not to mention, law enforcement personnel can use it to bust marijuana-growing operations. The BASIC system in particular was meant to spy on enemy troop movements, spot construction at suspected nuclear sites or alert commanders to militant training camps. The still images, which would be obtained multiple times per site per day, would be pieced together with higher resolution secret satellites into one large mosaic, the AP said.
The two satellites were intended to replace the canceled spy satellite program, the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), which collapsed in 2005 after Boeing spent five years and an estimated $10 billion.