Author Topic: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family  (Read 16179 times)

Online RonM

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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #41 on: 06/26/2014 10:04 PM »
Here you go. Costs of the GAMBIT and HEXAGON programs.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #42 on: 06/27/2014 12:33 AM »
So when you go on a per bucket cost the KH-8 cost roughly the same as the KH-7 and the KH-9 with it's much larger buckets cost twice as much.

Interesting, Any similar graphics for the KH-1 thru KH-4b?
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #43 on: 06/27/2014 02:24 AM »
So when you go on a per bucket cost the KH-8 cost roughly the same as the KH-7 and the KH-9 with it's much larger buckets cost twice as much.

And that's totally not the way to calculate it.

Online catdlr

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #44 on: 06/27/2014 02:38 AM »
just to add to this thread to make complete.  Lot's of REDACTED portions.  Grainy.

GAMBIT - The Eye Of The Eagle

Uploaded on Feb 1, 2012

National Reconnaissance Office Declassified GAMBIT Video

Length: 52 min.


« Last Edit: 06/27/2014 02:38 AM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #45 on: 06/27/2014 12:20 PM »
So when you go on a per bucket cost the KH-8 cost roughly the same as the KH-7 and the KH-9 with it's much larger buckets cost twice as much.

And that's totally not the way to calculate it.

;)

Other than the KH-8 was more capable than the KH-7 for twice the cost, but it returned twice as much film, so on the balance it really did cost the same. The KH-7 cost $650 million over four years, while the KH-8 flew for 18 years at a cost of $2.3 Billion. The KH-8 actually cost slightly less a year to operate, so was actually a "bargain".

To me, reading that graphic, while expensive these program costs did not spiral out of control during this time period. The cost spiral is something often implied of NRO programs. It really looks like the KH-7 thru KH-9 costs per image stayed pretty constant from 1963 - 1984.

I would imagine the KH-9's operating costs at ~$250 million a year took some swallowing, considering they replaced the KH-4/a/b which should have been cheaper.

Now it would be interesting to see how that figure changed with the later KH-11 program.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #46 on: 06/27/2014 01:57 PM »
1-Other than the KH-8 was more capable than the KH-7 for twice the cost, but it returned twice as much film, so on the balance it really did cost the same. The KH-7 cost $650 million over four years, while the KH-8 flew for 18 years at a cost of $2.3 Billion. The KH-8 actually cost slightly less a year to operate, so was actually a "bargain".

2-To me, reading that graphic, while expensive these program costs did not spiral out of control during this time period. The cost spiral is something often implied of NRO programs. It really looks like the KH-7 thru KH-9 costs per image stayed pretty constant from 1963 - 1984.

3-I would imagine the KH-9's operating costs at ~$250 million a year took some swallowing, considering they replaced the KH-4/a/b which should have been cheaper.

1-How do you know that? How do you know if they normalized the budget figures so that they're all equivalent? (In other words, a 1961 dollar spent on the KH-7 is not same as a 1977 dollar spent on the KH-8.)

2-Unless you know the original projected cost and the final actual cost, how do you know that the costs did not "spiral"?

3-Calculate the area covered. Compare. In fact, all you've done is compare a few basic figures. What about cost per photograph? What about cost per intelligence value of each photograph? (In other words, a clear photo of a missile base is more valuable than a cloudy photo of a missile base.)

I also think that trying to apply those kind of metrics to this effort is rather dubious. If all you care about is cost, then it drives you to the lowest capability system. And if you're going for the lowest capability, then what are you missing? If World War III breaks out because you skimped too much on intelligence funding, is that a bargain? How much would World War III cost?

That's not to say that cost is unimportant, but it's certainly not the most important thing. You plan for costs, you balance your portfolio, but if you need the intelligence data, you need the intelligence data. You put in good program management to make sure that things stay on schedule and budget, but that's not the same thing as not doing something because it costs too much.

How much did MOL cost on a per-picture basis?


Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #47 on: 08/20/2014 11:43 PM »
Better version of Catching the End of an Era: Recovery of the Last GAMBIT and HEXAGON Film Buckets from Space, August–October 1984.

I posted this earlier. I will delete the earlier poor-quality version.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #48 on: 08/21/2014 01:36 AM »
Better version of Catching the End of an Era: Recovery of the Last GAMBIT and HEXAGON Film Buckets from Space, August–October 1984.

I posted this earlier. I will delete the earlier poor-quality version.
Thanks for posting that, I had missed it the first time. Well worth the read.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #49 on: 10/26/2017 03:05 PM »
I'm going to drop this in several of the relevant reconnaissance satellite threads. Here is a link to a bunch of newly declassified documents from the NRO. Included in the latest batch are documents on the Film ReadOut GAMBIT (FROG), the HEXAGON camera system (and the HEXAGON Mapping Camera) and the MOL.

There are only a few FROG documents, but I am now thinking about writing an article about this program. The idea was to use the KH-8 and replace the reentry vehicles with a readout and scanning system. I have not yet seen any schematics of what this would have looked like, but it was the same concept used for Samos E-1/2 and Lunar Orbiter. Apparently this system would have used a laser, unlike the earlier ones that used a bright light (the first laser was invented in 1960).

FROG was proposed in 1966, but did not really get seriously looked at until around 1970/71, as an "interim" system for providing "near real-time" imagery before the KH-11 became available. Apparently NRO was more enthusiastic than either the CIA or the other members of the intelligence community, probably because the others thought it was not worthwhile to develop a system that would only be operational for a few years before it was replaced.

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/OtherReleases.html


Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #50 on: 10/26/2017 03:53 PM »
Laser scanning system in the 60's. Quite a feat when you think about it.
« Last Edit: 10/26/2017 03:53 PM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #51 on: 10/26/2017 04:12 PM »
Laser scanning system in the 60's. Quite a feat when you think about it.

For space, too...

When did the first laser get used in space?

Online gwiz

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Re: KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #52 on: 10/26/2017 04:30 PM »
When did the first laser get used in space?
Gemini 7?

Offline Star One

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KH-7 & 8 the GAMBIT Family
« Reply #53 on: 10/26/2017 11:17 PM »
Talking about declassification in general is this back & forth between the president & the intelligence agencies often what happens but normally it’s behind the scenes on topics like GAMBIT that don’t have the huge public interest of topics like JFK?
« Last Edit: 10/26/2017 11:17 PM by Star One »

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