Author Topic: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 68828 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #200 on: 03/21/2016 12:10 PM »
Jim's right, but Arch has the right overall point--there was very little backup/spares for U.S. reconsats. I have some documents about holding a "crisis satellite" in reserve for launch, but that was a contingency action, not a backup in case the Soviets blew one up. From everything I've seen, there really were not reserve satellites; as soon as they were complete they were sent to the pad. That's certainly true for the really big ones like the 9 and 11.

Hey, guess what? I got actual data!

Attached is a newly declassified set of documents (note: it says approved for release 2013/06/27, but it was actually released last month). These are from summer 1965 and concern a bunch of issues related to the number of photo-recon satellites then in production vs. requirements.

Digging down into one of the documents it states that "five to six [KH-4 CORONA] systems are continually in preparation somewhere between R-38 and R-0. As many as six systems could be launched in a two month period, and lead times are such that a two-per-month rate could be continued almost indefinitely. At least one KH-4 system is in R-7 status at all times. Further, the KH-4 has demonstrated its capability to hold in an R-1 status for reasonably long intervals."

FYI, "R" refers to ready to launch, so R-7 means that the payload could be ready to launch in seven days.

"In the case of the KH-7, we will not enter the new fiscal year with much reserve on hand..."

Anyway, you can read the rest.

Comments in my next post.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #201 on: 03/21/2016 12:13 PM »
First, I'd note that I don't think the Soviets had actual ASAT capabilities in 1965. I need to look up the operational date of the Soviet IS co-orbital ASAT system, but I think it was later than 1965.

Also, consider that the overall subject requires that we consider when we're talking about--were U.S. satellites vulnerable in 1965? 1969? 1975? 1981? And how did the U.S. respond over that whole time period?

But what you can see from the document I supplied, it was a consideration, and they were conscious of it and trying to respond to the issue.

More later as my brain refills.


UPDATE:

I just looked at Wikipedia, which is not the most reliable source, but is the quickest:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-satellite_weapon

First Soviet ASAT tests in 1963, program suspended, later tests in 1967/1968, declared operational in 1973.


« Last Edit: 03/21/2016 12:23 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #202 on: 03/21/2016 01:25 PM »
The early KH- were based on an Agena, and an Agena was able to drag a 8000 pounds Gemini capsule above 700 miles. What I mean is, as a rocket stage the Agena could do large orbital manoeuvers. Could the KH- do that ?
« Last Edit: 03/21/2016 01:25 PM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #203 on: 03/21/2016 02:09 PM »
The early KH- were based on an Agena, and an Agena was able to drag a 8000 pounds Gemini capsule above 700 miles. What I mean is, as a rocket stage the Agena could do large orbital manoeuvers. Could the KH- do that ?

No. They pretty much depleted the tanks getting to orbit. Remember that for the KH missions the Agena was a rocket pushing a payload. For the Gemini missions, the Agena was the payload, so it did not have to spend a lot of fuel to get into orbit, it got there with most of its fuel.

Offline Star One

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KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #204 on: 04/09/2016 06:48 PM »
NRO Verified account ‏@NatReconOfc

Read more declassified Corona info here:  http://1.usa.gov/1zjnUsU

The above was posted on the 07/04/2016

I haven't really had a chance to look & see what's new.

From an earlier NRO Tweet.

https://mobile.twitter.com/NatReconOfc/status/718096262315302913/photo/1

NRO Verified account ‏@NatReconOfc

April 7, 66 A Corona satellite launched from @30thSpaceWing (VAFB), in a rocket similar to the one depicted.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2016 06:52 PM by Star One »

Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #205 on: 06/03/2016 03:10 PM »
I've done a little scheme about NRO - NASA long standing relationship. Nothing revolutionnary, just trying to have a global view of the subject.

« Last Edit: 06/04/2016 08:05 AM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #206 on: 06/03/2016 03:28 PM »
You should include Corona. There was discussion of using Corona for NASA missions.

Also UPWARD.

And there was a connection between the Apollo Panoramic Camera and the cameras developed for the U-2/SR-71. But that story has not been fully told.

And although you seem to be focusing on hardware, there's a big policy component as well, such as NRO use of the shuttle. And then operational issues too, like using a KH-11 to image STS-1/Columbia.
« Last Edit: 06/03/2016 03:29 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #207 on: 06/03/2016 04:42 PM »
You should include Corona. There was discussion of using Corona for NASA missions.

Also UPWARD.

And there was a connection between the Apollo Panoramic Camera and the cameras developed for the U-2/SR-71. But that story has not been fully told.

And although you seem to be focusing on hardware, there's a big policy component as well, such as NRO use of the shuttle. And then operational issues too, like using a KH-11 to image STS-1/Columbia.

The latter of which was well covered in the recent excellent book Into The Black.

Offline jg

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #208 on: 06/03/2016 06:28 PM »
You should include Lunar Orbiter.  It used a camera from SAMOS, with an off the shelf lens rather than the better lens used in SAMOS (possibly to disguise just how good SAMOS' optics and resolution were).  This limited its resolution to of order 1 meter, good enough to keep the Apollo astronauts from landing on a boulder.

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #209 on: 06/04/2016 07:51 AM »
The whole relationship between NASA, DOD, and NRO is reviewed in the 2015 book SPIES AND SHUTTLES by James E. David.  The book is much more comprehensive than the title suggests.

Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #210 on: 06/04/2016 07:55 AM »
Yes I focused more on hardware transfers in the first place. I have to upgrade the thing - I forget the concept of a Shuttle orbiter carrying a KH-9 in the payload bay, with astronauts struggling to put a new, big film reel.

I think my scheme is a little too small; Corona is on the right, up corner.
UPWARD - Apollo LMSS (up, on the left)

True, both Skylab and Shuttle were imaged in orbit by spy satellites.

I'd like to know more about Corona to NASA.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2016 08:04 AM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #211 on: 06/04/2016 03:48 PM »
I'll admit that I don't understand what you are trying to do. This is a bunch of circles. But why circles? Why are they located where they are? Why are some things in one circle and not another? None of that is clear.

And there are no categories. So it's all confusing.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #212 on: 03/14/2017 04:36 PM »
The GAMBIT photographic manual has been declassified. Download the volumes here:

http://nro.gov/whatsnew.html


Offline rguser

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #213 on: 03/17/2017 06:42 AM »
Is this the fist time that the NRO has officially stated that KH-8 was capable of resolutions of anything other than "better-than-two-feet" when on the NRO's GAMBIT reconaissance system handbook new web page states that "and the follow-on, Gambit Cubed (KH-8), provided even higher resolution images in the "better-than-one-foot" category"?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #214 on: 03/17/2017 11:39 AM »
Is this the fist time that the NRO has officially stated that KH-8 was capable of resolutions of anything other than "better-than-two-feet" when on the NRO's GAMBIT reconaissance system handbook new web page states that "and the follow-on, Gambit Cubed (KH-8), provided even higher resolution images in the "better-than-one-foot" category"?

They accidentally revealed "four inches resolution" in a document years ago. You can find that up thread.

I think they have referred to resolution better than a foot before, but usually they delete it.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #215 on: 03/17/2017 11:40 AM »

Offline Targeteer

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #216 on: 03/18/2017 09:36 PM »
I managed to get through a volume and half so far... 
1) Who or what is BIF-008?
2) I hoped to be able to follow the math then "i"--the square root of -1, an imaginary number, showed up
3) Is anyone else perplexed by a vehicle with two major components using coordinate systems 180 degrees opposite?
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-8 GAMBIT Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #217 on: 03/20/2017 02:21 AM »

1) Who or what is BIF-008?


BIF-008 seems to refer to the GAMBIT-3 vehicle itself, although it appears at times the document uses it to refer to the facilities where the vehicle was assembled.

This appears to be a Kodak designation. I'm guessing that Kodak had other projects that it identified with a similar code system, so there was probably a BIF-007, BIF-009 and so on.

I should add that I am partially responsible for the declassification of this document. Several years ago a person who actually worked on the later versions of GAMBIT told me that this existed. He said that it was a big multi-volume technical manual for the spacecraft. He then sent a query about it to NRO and because they were in a good mood that day, they sent him about a dozen pages from the thing. He shared that with me and it looked really intriguing. I then promptly forgot to submit a FOIA request for it for several years until last year when I submitted a FOIA for portions of the document. Because I knew it was so big, I did not ask for all of it. NRO sent me a few hundred pages last year. But to be honest, I did not know what parts of the multi-volume set would be most interesting. The volume focusing on the optics and film system is the most interesting. But if you like 1980 wiring diagrams, there are plenty of those.

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