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Satellite Station Back to Normal

January 3, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A ground station that processes information from military satellites was restored to normal operation today after taking a hit from the Y2K millennium bug on New Year’s Eve, officials said.

Although the satellites were not affected, a ground-based processing station was knocked out for two to three hours at 7 p.m. EST Friday, which was midnight Greenwich Mean Time. That meant officials did not have access to information from the satellites until a backup system was put to use.

The temporary fix enabled the National Reconnaissance Office to process the highest-priority data from the satellites, but the system was not restored to full operations until today, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Tim Taylor said.

John Hamre, the deputy secretary of defense, called the outage significant but told a news conference Saturday it was the only major problem the Pentagon encountered during the rollover from 1999. Citing secrecy requirements, he would not say where the data-processing station was located or describe the type of satellites involved.

Rear Adm. Robert F. Willard, head of Y2K preparedness for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made no mention of the problem during a briefing for reporters at the Pentagon at 9:30 p.m. Friday, 2 1/2 hours after the outage. At that time Willard announced that all Pentagon computer systems were operating normally.

Taylor said today that Willard was not informed about the problem until after the news briefing. He said public affairs officials were seeking to find out why the National Reconnaissance Office did not immediately report the problem.

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