In advancing the notion that US intelligence is omniscient, it is often (and correctly) pointed out that a US photo-reconnaissance satellite, such as the KH11, can photographs the number on a license plate on a car. What can't a photo-reconnaissance satellite see that might be of importance to intelligence?


The KH-11 space craft is 64 feet long and weighs 15 tons . It flies across Soviet territory every ninety minutes at altitudes of from 150 to 250 miles. At this relatively low altitude, its 6 foot-long telescopes take pictures of pre-selected targets.

What can't it see? The KH-11 satellites cannot take photographs at night, which is half the time, or through clouds, which cover over seventy percent of the Soviet Union at any one time. More important, it cannot see what is going on inside buildings or under roofs. And it is indoors where many secret developments take place.