The SIGINT gathering station at Pine Gap near Alice Springs "Australia" is quite possibly, one of the most secretive satellite ground stations in the world, and is one of the largest in the world. Pine Gap recieves data from a number of geostationary SIGINT satellites, most notably from the satellite's that were manufactured by TRW Space Systems at Redondo Beach, California. These satellites are under the control of the CIA which in turn answers to the National Reconnaissance Office "NRO".
The original code name for the Pine Gap facillity was MERINO but by now would almost be obselete.
The radomes that cover the rather large anntenna array's serve two purposes, one being to keep dust,sand and other forign objects out of the delicate equipment and two being to conceal the antenna's position from enemy spy satellites.
The computer room at the base is also unbelivebly large encompassing almost 5,600 square metres, so large in fact that the operators use headsets to communicate with each other, also as a matter of interest the computers at the station are mainly IBM. The computer room itself is principly divided into 3 different divsions:
The Station Keeping Section, which has responsibility for keeping
the satellites at their correct geo-stationary orbit.
The primary landline communication link for the base is provided by TELSTRA, via the trans Pacific under-sea cable sea system which links the US and Australia, while AT&T maintain their end of the deal.
Around 1968 a HF antenna was installed in the northern edge of the facillity, with the international call sign VL5TY, this provides a direct link to the US base Clark Field in the Philippines this service operates on an estimated 16 freq's from 4.048 MHz to 23.69 MHz.
The following freq's were used in 1987 for these comm's:
4.048, 5.92, 6.766, 6.866, 8.093, 8.17, 9.224, 9.915, 10.587, 12.21, 14.782, 15.895, 17.523, 17.623, 23.355, 23.69 MHz
All comm's to or from Pine Gap are encrypted in either the Signals Processing Office or the National Cypher and communication's room. Two Univac computers are used to encrypt the transmissions, while two cryptographic machines (a KW-7 and a KG-13 for teletype and voice encryption respectively) communicate with the TRW's buildings in Redondo Beach, California. Note these methods are only used for general signals rather than SIGINT traffic, it is only when prompt action is required from the US that the SIGINT traffic is directed through this way. The Communications Vault in TRW's building M-4 code named PEDAL is a major point in the Pine Gap communications system, of the 25 to 30 messages sent from Pine Gap each day about half of these are directed to CIA (code named PILOT) headquarters in Langley Virginia.
Occasionally SIGNIT data is directed directly to the NRO headquarters in the Pentagon or to the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, since 1969 there have been twice weekly flights of C-141 Starlifter and Galaxy aircraft, these have 2 purposes 1 to deliver parts and supplies and 2 to collect the thousands of reels of SIGINT gathered at Pine Gap each week.
The undeniable truth is that PINE GAP is invovled with espionage.