Author Topic: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions  (Read 4218 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #20 on: 08/11/2017 10:33 PM »
As a side-note, I enjoyed the Babylon 5 references that Dwayne used to work into his article titles for The Space Review.

I hope it would be possible to continue that theme, if the author desires?

Just a thought.

Wow, somebody actually noticed?! (I've also used song lyrics and book titles in the past.)

I have in the works a lengthy article--probably not for The Space Review--about the unique GAMBIT Dual Mode mission of 1982. The title is "All Alone in the Night."



Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #21 on: 08/12/2017 01:01 AM »
Sometime in late 1977 I was at a social event in Honolulu that was mostly astronomers - except for one obviously military guy whose shirt said "6594th Test Group" in big letters, and the unit's (unofficial) insignia. I remember someone asked him "Are there 6,593 other Test Groups?".

The only thing covert about these units was that they didn't have a press officer cranking out releases about every minor event. Since Hickham AFB and Honolulu International Airport share the same runways and taxiways, their aircraft were taking off and landing in plain view of thousands of tourists all the time. And the big tracking antenna radome on top made it clear that they weren't ordinary Hercs. These planes should have been located at NAS Barbers Point alongside the Navy's secret units, but of course interservice rivalry prevented that.

Offline Jim

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #22 on: 08/12/2017 01:20 AM »
The insignia was official.
Radomes?. JC-130 didn't have them.
« Last Edit: 08/12/2017 01:21 AM by Jim »

Offline Opie

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #23 on: 08/12/2017 03:54 AM »
No, but the HC-130s used to refuel the Jolly's did.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #24 on: 08/12/2017 07:29 PM »
Sometime in late 1977 I was at a social event in Honolulu that was mostly astronomers - except for one obviously military guy whose shirt said "6594th Test Group" in big letters, and the unit's (unofficial) insignia. I remember someone asked him "Are there 6,593 other Test Groups?".

The only thing covert about these units was that they didn't have a press officer cranking out releases about every minor event. Since Hickham AFB and Honolulu International Airport share the same runways and taxiways, their aircraft were taking off and landing in plain view of thousands of tourists all the time. And the big tracking antenna radome on top made it clear that they weren't ordinary Hercs. These planes should have been located at NAS Barbers Point alongside the Navy's secret units, but of course interservice rivalry prevented that.

The unit's connection to recovering satellite capsules was openly acknowledged with the Discoverer 14 catch back in 1961. It was an open secret what they did, and the fact that they were still doing it in 1984 was a tip off that it was an important mission. I think that monitoring the unit's activities would have been a good indication that they were conducting recovery operations. They usually sent quite a few planes out for each recovery, so launching a whole bunch of C-130s would have been a sign. That said, the planes spaced out a bit, so they might have launched three and then another three an hour later, so it would have required some careful monitoring.


Offline Jim

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #25 on: 08/12/2017 07:59 PM »
No, but the HC-130s used to refuel the Jolly's did.

They were less than 30% of the test group's fleet and weren't used on every recovery.

Offline Jester

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #26 on: 08/15/2017 08:23 PM »
The insignia was official.
Radomes?. JC-130 didn't have them.

some did.
http://6594thtestgroup.org/images/57-0526.jpg

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Top Secret Space Shuttle Missions
« Reply #27 on: 08/16/2017 11:06 PM »
The insignia was official.
Radomes?. JC-130 didn't have them.

some did.
http://6594thtestgroup.org/images/57-0526.jpg

Wasn't that direction finder equipment? I think that was antennas for picking up the radio beacon from the SRVs as they descended.

By the way, that test group's records have been preserved and are at Peterson AFB. I went through some of them a number of years ago. There was some neat stuff in there, but they were not set up to support researchers. They had things like reports on the recovery rigs installed inside the aircraft and a few mishap reports. I remember one report about how they caught an SRV--probably a training flight--and it actually flew up on its cable above the aircraft (although this would have been behind the aircraft). I don't think the report explained why that happened, but I would guess that the pilot did something wrong in his approach.

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