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Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks broke shortly after the release of the patch for NROL-39, leading many to speculate that the octopus represented the tentacles of the government reaching out to control the world. After using the Freedom of Information Act, however, a journalist found a more mundane explanation: the octopus represents a failed instrument (nicknamed an octopus) that the team had to contend with while preparing the satellite for its December 2013 launch.

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