In an age of heightened awareness and sensitivity to the fact that the government is probably watching you read this right now, you would think America’s spy agencies might try to keep a few things on the down-low for awhile. But when you’re one of the top five intelligence agencies in the US, whose sole purpose is to spy on the entire population of planet earth from outer space -you tend to go big or go home. That’s why it’s no surprise the National Reconnaissance Office (the scariest spy agency you’ve never heard of) with it’s penchant for latin mottos, obscure mythological iconography and that whole spying on you from outer space thing -recently drew up a launch patch that features a giant space octopus slowly squeezing the life out of planet earth with the motto, “Nothing is Beyond Our Reach” proudly displayed across the bottom.
What’s a launch patch, you ask? Well, when it’s your job to spy on people from outer space, you have to launch a lot of satellites into orbit… like all the time and of course, if it’s your job to launch spy satellites into space, this is the sort of thing you might want to talk about with friends and family. As in, “Hey, have you heard about all that Edward Snowden spy stuff? Yeah… I sorta helped with that.”
But of course, you can’t talk about it. What you do get however, is a super cool launch patch! One that you can maybe frame and hang on your wall and specifically not talk about when people ask or maybe you can even sell it on ebay for twenty dollars if you’re lucky. Only, these aren’t your typical boring military insignia with stripes and horses and shields and whatever… these bad boys are like rock and roll album covers… more specifically, 1970′s demonic heavy metal acid rock album covers! Which everybody knows are the best kind.
Actually, all of this is kind of awesome… until you remember we’re talking about a largely classified “black ops” government spy agency with presumably unlimited amounts of “off the books” funds and drawings of things like flaming skulls with devil horns for launch patches.
1. NRO L-39 Launch Patch
This is the launch patch for NRO L-39 and like most NRO payloads, this one is classified. It could be a rocket full of Cheetos or it could be a rocket full of thousands of nano-satellites meant to gently cloak the earth in a dark blanket of tiny electronic eyes silently watching our every move.
Personally, I’m hoping for the Cheetos thing. That would be awesome, although it would be slightly disappointing to discover it costs roughly 10.3 billion dollars to launch a rocket full of Cheetos into outer space.
This launch patch features a giant space octopus slowly squeezing the life out of the planet, while admonishing us all that absolutely nothing is beyond the reach of the NRO… so that’s comforting, I guess. Personally, I think it could use some flames and some sort of ominous latin phrase like, “videntium te masturbari” which I’m pretty sure is latin for, “watching you masturbate”.
Now that’s scary.
2. NRO L-38 Mission Patch
Nothing says good old fashioned American peace and security like the giant jackal headed Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis rising up above the earth’s horizon with his fiery red eyes and serpent’s tongue flickering deep into outer space. At least, that’s what the NRO thought when they designed this mission patch.
What’s it all mean? Well… they would tell you, but then they would have to kill you. You see, monopolizing outer space for your own nefarious purposes is a lot like Fight Club in that the first rule of monopolizing outer space for your own nefarious purposes is that you don’t talk about monopolizing outer space for your own nefarious purposes.
What you do however, is make a totally bitchin’ patch that would look rad sewn onto the back of your denim jean jacket if this were 1986 every time you launch a spy satellite into orbit… which is like, a lot.
3. NRO L-32 Mission Patch
Ah yes, the classic “all seeing eye”… friend to Freemasons, conspiracy theorists and top secret spy agencies alike. Ironically, this one scares me the most. It’s not what it says, but what it doesn’t say that frightens me.
Come on guys, give me something to work with! How about a creepy undecipherable latin phrase or the goat headed Greek god, Pan stomping across the heavens while furiously playing his flute and vanquishing our enemies beneath his goat hoofed feet. But instead, it’s just that damn unblinking eye… staring at me… perhaps even mocking me… staring deep into my soul in stone cold silence, leaving me to wonder at what secrets it might be hiding.
Give me a patch featuring devils and flames and phoenixes rising from the ashes any day over this thing. At least then I can sort of imagine what horrors might be hovering above -just out of sight in the night sky, but this thing leaves me with nothing but my imagination. Fortunately, my imagination has largely been destroyed by years of console gaming and internet porn abuse, but there is still just enough paranoid fantasy material lurking in the dark corners of my mind to lead me to believe this patch signifies the NRO mission where they pretty much joined forces with the Illuminati, took over the world and then put us all to sleep with an endless barrage of Grand Theft Auto video games and Kim Kardashian butt photos.
Damn you, NRO! You win again!
4. NRO L-19 Launch Patch
What’s more badass than a giant space dragon with two American flags for wings?
A giant space dragon with two American flags for wings clutching the earth in it’s claws and a moon sized diamond in it’s tail -that’s what!
Which I’m assuming is exactly why the NRO chose this patch design for NRO L-19… “assuming” because again, all this crap is more classified than the Wi-Fi password to Dick Cheney’s robot heart and all we have to go on are a handful of patches that look like they came straight out of a back alley tattoo shop scrapbook. But at least we have something to work with here… a few tantalizing images to spark our imagination.
Is the NRO raising a fleet of giant space dragons used to harvest moon diamonds from the darkest corners of our galaxy?
Man, I hope so! Because that’s way more awesome than launching rockets full of Cheetos into outer space. Although, I still feel strongly that the Cheetos thing is just as important, for the record.
5. NRO L-49 Mission Patch
Now this is more like it! This bad boy’s got flames and a phoenix and an American flag along with some cryptic lettering at the bottom and a weird latin phrase at the top that appears to be about the devil for some reason.
In case you’re wondering and I’m sure you are, “melior diabolus quem scies” means “better the devil you know…” as in, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know… which is cool and everything until again you realize we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar spy agency that probably knows things about you not even your mother is aware of and they are apparently referring to themselves as some kind of a devil.
Of course, the uplifting message behind this patch is, at least the highly classified top secret devil we do know about is way better than that thing they are not telling us about… which is basically everything.
So, rest easy America! Everything is under control.
6. NRO L-49 Launch Patch
Judging by the mission patch, NRO L-49 looks pretty badass and let’s face it, considering the whole damn thing is top secret the patch is pretty much all we have to judge it by anyway. But for all you doubters out there, let it be known that NRO L-49 has not one, but two patches (a mission patch and a launch patch) that would make any Iron Maiden album cover look like it was conjured up by Walt Disney and the pope.
Behold! NRO L-49′s launch patch actually has a devil on it! It’s as if someone in the pot smoke filled, blacklight lit basement at NRO patch design headquarters finally said, “You know what? Enough with all this subtlety and latin words for the devil and stuff! Let’s just slap that sucker on there and rock out!”
Of course, no demonic spy patch would be complete without some sort of cryptic latin phrase scrawled across the bottom and the NRO L-49 launch patch does not disappoint. Here we see, “primoris gravis ex occasus” which means, “first heavy from the west”… okay, maybe the NRO L-49 launch patch disappoints a little bit. I mean, what the hell? What happened to “devils you don’t know about” and “nothing beyond our reach”? “First heavy from the west”, sounds more like a Grateful Dead album than a super cool top secret spy motto.
But then again, what do I know?
I am absolutely 100% cool with all of this demonic top secret spy stuff and am only joking.
I REPEAT. THIS IS ONLY A JOKE AND I WELCOME OUR DEMONIC NRO OVERLORDS.