Author Topic: Soviet television reconnaissance satellites  (Read 1590 times)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Soviet television reconnaissance satellites
« on: 09/06/2023 08:37 pm »
https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4646/1

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Soviet television reconnaissance satellites

Starting in the early 1960s, the Soviet Union launched hundreds of photoreconnaissance satellites that returned exposed film back to Earth in capsules. It was not until 1982 that the country orbited its first electro-optical reconnaissance satellite, capable of sending imagery back to Earth in near real time. As a stopgap measure, proposals were tabled in the 1960s and 1970s for achieving the same goal by using reconnaissance satellites carrying television cameras. Such cameras were ultimately flown on two uncrewed versions of the Almaz military space station in the late 1980s/early 1990s, but by that time the technology was already outdated. While some information on these projects has emerged in the past 20 years or so, the details remain sketchy.
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Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Soviet television reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #1 on: 09/20/2023 03:01 am »
Was there an official project name for the proposed Soviet TV reconnaissance satellite?

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Soviet television reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #2 on: 09/20/2023 08:43 pm »
Was there an official project name for the proposed Soviet TV reconnaissance satellite?

Both the projects proposed in the 1960s (by Chelomei's bureau) and the 1970s (by Yuzhnoe and KB-1) are referred to in Russian publications as the Television Global Reconnaissance (TGR) program ("Televizionnaya globalnaya razvedka" in Russian). A name used internally at Chelomei's bureau seems to have been KSON (for "Kosmicheskaya sistema operatsionnogo nablyudeniya", which roughly translates as "Real Time Space Observation System"). 

A history of the Yuzhnoe bureau published in 1995 claimed that the name of the 1970s proposal was Taifun, but that appears to have been a mistake. Taifun was actually a series of radar calibration satellites built by Yuzhnoe. Later histories of Yuzhnoe no longer link Taifun to the television reconnaissance satellites. Some online sources still call the satellite proposed in the 1970s Taifun-TGR (with the military index 11F636), but I presume that's a mistake based on the 1995 Yuzhnoe history.   

I should caution that we haven't yet seen any primary documents on these projects, but based on what's been published so far, it looks like the program name was TGR.

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