The facility near Rosman has played multiple roles, from NASA station to NSA operation to the public-science focused Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.
In the mid 1980s, local newspapers like the Asheville Citizen-Times began to chip away at Rosman Research Station’s official story—that it was a Defense Department outpost. The National Security Agency wouldn’t acknowledge its role until years later.
“The work at Rosman, even the number of employees, was a closely guarded secret,” a highly classified NSA document later noted.
Some of the most sensitive spy equipment at the station was shielded from disclosure by giant radomes like this one.
During the NSA’s tenure at Rosman Research Station, workers painted a smiley face on one of the telescopes—a sly wink at the Soviet satellites that surely looked down on it.
A Defense Department map of Rosman Research Station, prepared as the NSA was pulling out its operations, showed the facility’s unusual features, which included a pistol range, a helipad, and even a building devoted to destroying classified documents.