Author Topic: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 168327 times)

Offline jcm

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #40 on: 09/19/2011 06:06 PM »
I posted some pictures at
http://planet4589.org/jcm/pics/11/gambit/index.html

- mostly not as good as Blackstar's but some of them show different details.
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Offline Art LeBrun

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #41 on: 09/19/2011 08:07 PM »
Many thanks, jcm. Utterly fascinating.
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Offline JosephB

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #42 on: 09/19/2011 08:16 PM »
"The Hexagon Story" is fascinating reading but I have to say those redactions are a tease. The video "Hexagon - Sentinel of Liberty" especially so.

Offline Targeteer

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #43 on: 09/19/2011 08:34 PM »
I wonder if the full video showing the Titan failure during the last Hexagon launch will now be available or could be requested (FOIA?).  There were rumors several of the frames showed the payload outside of the shroud falling back to the launchpad...
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Offline Art LeBrun

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #44 on: 09/19/2011 08:50 PM »
Probably shows the first and second stage engines also...........
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Offline robertross

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #45 on: 09/19/2011 09:22 PM »
So was the HEXAGON the first use of an solid state image sensor technology in reconnaissance sats?
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #46 on: 09/19/2011 09:58 PM »
I wonder if the full video showing the Titan failure during the last Hexagon launch will now be available or could be requested (FOIA?).  There were rumors several of the frames showed the payload outside of the shroud falling back to the launchpad...

I was the one who heard the story about the shroud getting blown off from somebody who worked at VAFB as an integration person (i.e. they put the payload on top of the thing that blew up). They said that there was a single frame that revealed something, probably the SRVs underneath. The person never told me what the payload was, but we already knew what was atop the rocket.

I will say that it is pretty great what they have already released. I figure that over the next few years they'll be declassifying a lot of program records. I'm too entrenched in what they released to figure out what I'd like to see next, although two things come to mind: higher-res (better color) pictures than the ones in the histories and on their websites. Most of what they released was scanned off of a paper copy, not an actual photo. And, some reports on each of the new blocks of vehicle explaining what the major modifications were.
« Last Edit: 09/19/2011 09:59 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #47 on: 09/19/2011 10:01 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1931/1

Big Black throws a party

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, September 19, 2011

On Saturday night the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a major bash at the Smithsonianís Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. The spooks definitely know how to throw a party.

The event was remarkable in some ways because for the first 31 years of its life the NRO was a secret organization and the government did not even admit that it existedóblacker than black. But in the past 20 years the office, by fits and starts, revealed more of what it does. Today although most of its current operations remain classified, the NRO acknowledges the broad outlines of its activities, taking images and intercepting signals using sophisticated and expensive satellites. The NRO has had its share of scandals in the past couple of decades, some of which became public, but lately it seems to be on a roll with a number of programmatic successes, and so they held a party, and have something to celebrate.

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #48 on: 09/19/2011 10:18 PM »
So was the HEXAGON the first use of an solid state image sensor technology in reconnaissance sats?

Good question - previously we had speculated that HEXAGON might have served as a testbed for some KH-11 sensor technologies.
The HEXAGON Story (page 111) states that Perkin Elmer's solid-state stellar camera (S3) first flew on mission 1217, i.e. May 1982. By that time four KH-11 Block 1 satellites had already been launched, and CCDs had been around for +6 years (first "big" international conference on CCDs was held in 1976). Thus HEXAGON might in this case have inherited some KH-11 technology.
« Last Edit: 09/19/2011 10:19 PM by hoku »

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #49 on: 09/19/2011 10:55 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1931/1

Big Black throws a party

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, September 19, 2011

On Saturday night the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a major bash at the Smithsonianís Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. The spooks definitely know how to throw a party.
...
Thanks for the nice and upbeat summary of Saturday's events! I for one thing am curious about the features still hidden. I haven't found anything, yet, on the subsatellites (FERRETs and scientific) - possibly apart from the "black boxes" depicted below.

On the other side, there are lots of gems, like, e.g., the amazing film path starting at the supply spool, making its way through the camera, and initialy all four of the recovery vehicles...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #50 on: 09/20/2011 12:04 AM »
1-I for one thing am curious about the features still hidden. I haven't found anything, yet, on the subsatellites (FERRETs and scientific) - possibly apart from the "black boxes" depicted below.

2-On the other side, there are lots of gems, like, e.g., the amazing film path starting at the supply spool, making its way through the camera, and initialy all four of the recovery vehicles...

1-I did not expect them to release anything on the sigint ferrets. We do have information on the S3 scientific subsatellites. I have heard that a declassification effort concerning the sigint ferrets is underway, but the confidence level on that is low. Frankly, the sigint guys haven't been able to take public credit for what they did, and maybe they never will (except for the POPPY and GRAB guys).

2-Yeah, that was a surprise. A year or so ago I was talking to somebody about how that film path might have worked. We speculated that it might have been like CORONA, threaded through each recovery bucket. But we didn't like that idea, because it seemed pretty gutsy to run it through four buckets, especially since the film must have moved pretty fast. What happens if you get a jam? You could lose a lot. So we speculated that they might have had some system that threaded each bucket individually after one was dumped. More complex, of course. But the diagram shows that they did it like CORONA.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2011 12:05 AM by Blackstar »

Offline ChileVerde

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #51 on: 09/20/2011 02:36 PM »
So was the HEXAGON the first use of an solid state image sensor technology in reconnaissance sats?

Good question - previously we had speculated that HEXAGON might have served as a testbed for some KH-11 sensor technologies.
The HEXAGON Story (page 111) states that Perkin Elmer's solid-state stellar camera (S3) first flew on mission 1217, i.e. May 1982. By that time four KH-11 Block 1 satellites had already been launched, and CCDs had been around for +6 years (first "big" international conference on CCDs was held in 1976). Thus HEXAGON might in this case have inherited some KH-11 technology.

This is just an "I heard that...", so take it with due caution and FWIW. However, I heard that the initial KH-11s used a different sensor technology than CCDs, which seems kind of consistent with the development timelines of both the satellite and CCDs. 
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Offline gwiz

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #52 on: 09/20/2011 02:44 PM »
This is just an "I heard that...", so take it with due caution and FWIW. However, I heard that the initial KH-11s used a different sensor technology than CCDs, which seems kind of consistent with the development timelines of both the satellite and CCDs. 
The way I heard that rumour, the first KH-11 used a video system and the CCD sensors came in on the second KH-11.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #53 on: 09/20/2011 02:45 PM »
Quote
This is just an "I heard that...", so take it with due caution and FWIW. However, I heard that the initial KH-11s used a different sensor technology than CCDs, which seems kind of consistent with the development timelines of both the satellite and CCDs.

Linear diode arrays? Though they have low Qe, the technology was mature in the early 70's.

Maybe coupled with first or second gen image intensifier tubes?

The mid 80's leaked soviet aircraft carrier image in aviation weekly always reminded me of what one would expect with different element gains in a 1d linear array scan. But everything I just typed is just a guess.
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Offline Downix

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #54 on: 09/20/2011 02:55 PM »
1-I for one thing am curious about the features still hidden. I haven't found anything, yet, on the subsatellites (FERRETs and scientific) - possibly apart from the "black boxes" depicted below.

2-On the other side, there are lots of gems, like, e.g., the amazing film path starting at the supply spool, making its way through the camera, and initialy all four of the recovery vehicles...

1-I did not expect them to release anything on the sigint ferrets. We do have information on the S3 scientific subsatellites. I have heard that a declassification effort concerning the sigint ferrets is underway, but the confidence level on that is low. Frankly, the sigint guys haven't been able to take public credit for what they did, and maybe they never will (except for the POPPY and GRAB guys).

2-Yeah, that was a surprise. A year or so ago I was talking to somebody about how that film path might have worked. We speculated that it might have been like CORONA, threaded through each recovery bucket. But we didn't like that idea, because it seemed pretty gutsy to run it through four buckets, especially since the film must have moved pretty fast. What happens if you get a jam? You could lose a lot. So we speculated that they might have had some system that threaded each bucket individually after one was dumped. More complex, of course. But the diagram shows that they did it like CORONA.
You've never worked in the motion picture industry then I take it.  This film path is downright simple compared to some I've had to work with.  Even the multiple recovery buckets is right off of several specialty cameras I've worked on, which had multiple pick-up spools.  I'm attaching the picture of a PSK-30 for example of one such design, it's design allowing for travelling masks to allow dynamic matting, for FX work, much more complex than the film path above.

This path here is nothing unusual, nor complex.
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Offline ChileVerde

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #55 on: 09/20/2011 03:51 PM »

Linear diode arrays? Though they have low Qe, the technology was mature in the early 70's.

Maybe so. My memory is trying to tell me that the term "PIN diode" was used in the conversation mentioned above, but I don't trust my memory after all these years.

Quote
Maybe coupled with first or second gen image intensifier tubes?

I have no idea. Perhaps if you went back and looked at the available sensor technology in the early 1970s you could get an idea whether intensifier tubes would be needed or not.
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Offline simonbp

Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #56 on: 09/20/2011 04:00 PM »
My money would be on rad-hard vidicons, as used on Voyager. It's simple and they knew it would work. Plus, I doubt Qe was the driving force, but rather resolution...

http://pds-rings.seti.org/voyager/iss/inst_cat_na1.html#inst_det

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #57 on: 09/20/2011 04:04 PM »
My money would be on rad-hard vidicons, as used on Voyager. It's simple and they knew it would work. Plus, I doubt Qe was the driving force, but rather resolution...

http://pds-rings.seti.org/voyager/iss/inst_cat_na1.html#inst_det

Linear. It's in The Wizards of Langley.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2011 04:04 PM by Blackstar »

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #58 on: 09/21/2011 07:14 PM »
...
You've never worked in the motion picture industry then I take it.  This film path is downright simple compared to some I've had to work with.  Even the multiple recovery buckets is right off of several specialty cameras I've worked on, which had multiple pick-up spools.  I'm attaching the picture of a PSK-30 for example of one such design, it's design allowing for travelling masks to allow dynamic matting, for FX work, much more complex than the film path above.

This path here is nothing unusual, nor complex.
Neat, but did it also include a Nitrogen tank for the airbars?  ;)

I should have mentioned that the Hexaon film path depicted above is a gross oversimplicifation. To quote from The Hexagon Story:
"The distance the film traveled (...) was 140 feet ... over 124 rollers in camera A, 131 rollers in camera B, and six airbars in each camera.
(...)
In the fine film-transport system, the film was accelerated to 200 inches per second, decelerated, and recycled, while platen cycled through the photo-recyle phase."

Having never worked in the motion picture industry, I'm still quite impressed by the Hexagon film path!   :)

Offline Downix

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #59 on: 09/21/2011 07:57 PM »
...
You've never worked in the motion picture industry then I take it.  This film path is downright simple compared to some I've had to work with.  Even the multiple recovery buckets is right off of several specialty cameras I've worked on, which had multiple pick-up spools.  I'm attaching the picture of a PSK-30 for example of one such design, it's design allowing for travelling masks to allow dynamic matting, for FX work, much more complex than the film path above.

This path here is nothing unusual, nor complex.
Neat, but did it also include a Nitrogen tank for the airbars?  ;)

I should have mentioned that the Hexaon film path depicted above is a gross oversimplicifation. To quote from The Hexagon Story:
"The distance the film traveled (...) was 140 feet ... over 124 rollers in camera A, 131 rollers in camera B, and six airbars in each camera.
(...)
In the fine film-transport system, the film was accelerated to 200 inches per second, decelerated, and recycled, while platen cycled through the photo-recyle phase."

Having never worked in the motion picture industry, I'm still quite impressed by the Hexagon film path!   :)
It's impressive indeed.  I'm just pointing out that such complex paths are not unheard of in other fields.  200 inches per second is the same speed that an IMAX camera runs at for normal operation.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

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