Author Topic: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 77925 times)

Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #60 on: 10/31/2021 01:35 am »
Film readout also had the limit of film itself, which had mass and volume and which provided a limited number of images that could then be scanned (though readout time seemed the real limit back then).  The self-developing film probably weighed more than Corona film, etc.

 - Ed Kyle

Yes, film ran out. I don't know what was the limiting factor with Samos, if it was amount of film or some other lifetime issue. With FROG, at least one senior advisor was concerned that the laser scanner would eventually break.

CORONA eventually carried a huge amount of film (I need to look that up). But there were plans to carry even more. The KH-4B was supposed to carry Ultra-Thin Base (UTB) film, which as the name indicates, had a thin base layer, meaning that the film would be really thin and they could carry more of it. But they had problems with the UTB film on a few missions and decided to not carry it on later flights. I'm not sure which KH-4B missions carried it.


Offline dondar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #61 on: 10/31/2021 11:51 am »
there are two not mentioned aspects with film-readout systems.

Resolution: 70mm film/65mkm beam~933 lines. (maximum), 800 practical max, depending on scanning mechanism.
Reconstruction was done using kinescope projection, (1200 historical maximum for this period). I expect resulting resolution of 680 lines (which is still exceptional). It translates practically into SVGA resolution mode 2.
The film itself has practical resolution in the range at least 2k when scanned using usual cinema film or up to 8k (depending on granule size, chemistry etc. there existed superimposed high resolution films for example).

Data actuality: film read-out  info had delay around 1 day (or a bit more in some cases due  transmitting, positioning, relay etc. time costs) +processing delay (practically yet another day) . Film canister variants (Corona etc.) had delays of weeks + collection+processing.
Simply put the systems served different needs and worked on different time scales.
 

Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #62 on: 11/03/2021 03:55 pm »
I am working on an article on the KH-6 LANYARD satellite. I wrote a lengthy article about it back in the 1990s which is still the most detailed account to date, but I have a more comprehensive account written and I just need to polish it up.

One side story to this is the "P Camera Experiment," (for "Purcell Camera") that flew in 1963. There is only very limited information on this experiment, which did not work. This is from "The GAMBIT Story." I also have an account from the mission. It's too bad we don't have a drawing or photo of the actual camera, which was a folded optics system.

A follow-up to what I wrote a few days ago.

There were three KH-6 LANYARD launches: March, May, July 1963. The March launch failed. If you look at the P-Camera material, the head of the CIA made an appeal for this project in April 1963. He also had doubts that GAMBIT was going to work properly. GAMBIT was then scheduled for June 1963.

I suspect that the LANYARD failure may have prompted the P-Camera project. And the reason seems to have been urgency about getting images of suspected anti-ballistic missile sites in the USSR. Available information on LANYARD indicates that there were about 10 high-priority reconnaissance targets that they wanted to image with LANYARD. It appears that the suspected ABM site at Tallinn, Estonia was one of them. So my working theory is that they were concerned about imaging a bunch of sites, probably mostly related to suspected ABM activity in the Soviet Union, and that the CIA's lack of confidence in GAMBIT led to their support for both LANYARD and then the P-Camera.

For years I've known about this stuff, but did not notice the chronology--that the P-Camera started after the first LANYARD failure. Had it succeeded, we probably would not have had the P-Camera.


Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #63 on: 11/03/2021 09:21 pm »
Well shiver me timbers and call me a pirate: as I continue to polish up my LANYARD article and look at some sources I've had in hand for awhile, the timeline revises itself again.

An official CIA history on the division that oversaw the reconnaissance programs states that the LANYARD was developed to take photos of a suspected ABM missile site in Tallinn, Estonia. That history is:

Donald E. Welzenbach, “Science and Technology: Origins of a Directorate,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 30, Summer 1986, p. 24, RG 263, National Archives and Records Administration. (probably now available online)

LANYARD, as I noted above, was launched three times, in March, May, and July 1963. But according to Chris Manteuffel, who wrote about the Tallinn system a couple of years ago, the Tallinn site was not detected until July 1964, when CORONA Mission 1008 overflew it:

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3677/1

LANYARD was canceled by the time the Tallinn issue emerged.

Now the CIA did not initiate the LANYARD system, but they were involved. And there's a neat anecdote about how the CIA became concerned that the NRO's West Coast office, known as SAFSP (or Program B), and generally viewed as an Air Force office, was trying to take complete control of LANYARD. That's a sign of how the rivalry between the CIA and the NRO was heating up.


Offline libra

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #64 on: 11/04/2021 10:02 am »
Quote
Now the CIA did not initiate the LANYARD system, but they were involved. And there's a neat anecdote about how the CIA became concerned that the NRO's West Coast office, known as SAFSP (or Program B), and generally viewed as an Air Force office, was trying to take complete control of LANYARD. That's a sign of how the rivalry between the CIA and the NRO was heating up.


LANYARD was repackaged SAMOS E-5 cameras, and SAMOS was Air Force's baby (AFAIK - the entire SAMOS story is kind of nightmarish hodgepodge of variants - counted eight so far if LANYARD and the aborted SPARTAN are included along E-1 to E-6).
The amount of leftover SAMOS satellites that ended unflown, then in storage, then crushed / melted, is pretty insane.
Perry's counts 10 E-1 / E-2 (including unflyable ones, TBH); 4*E-4; plus a load of E-5s and E-6s (not sure: 4 to 8, average 6 at least). That aproximately 20 satellites ??!!! or even 24 ??!!!  And then were LANYARD and the aborted SPARTAN, trying to salvage some cameras out of that mess... by 1963 SAMOS was being shut down at least, with CORONA and GAMBIT kind of "stabilizing" spysat types, roles and missions. But pre-1963: what a confusing mess, and waste.

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #65 on: 11/04/2021 06:13 pm »
LANYARD was repackaged SAMOS E-5 cameras

Yes. Back around 2001 or so, I interviewed the guy who designed the E-5 camera and then redesigned it to become the LANYARD camera. I've written about that before and published it. It's a neat story. The USAF wanted a pressurized spacecraft so that they could have one available to put an astronaut inside. This was at a time when they were not allowed to have a manned spacecraft program competing with Mercury. So they dreamed up a mission for it, putting a camera inside the large pressurized spacecraft. But that drove severe design compromises on the camera. It was not optimized for performance, it was optimized to be recovered. This sorta went against the whole philosophy of camera designers, who always wanted to get the best possible performance from a camera.

Once they were freed up from using the E-5 recovery system, they could fix a lot of problems with the camera. Unfortunately, it still had some limitations. If they had started from scratch, they would have produced something better.



SAMOS was Air Force's baby (AFAIK - the entire SAMOS story is kind of nightmarish hodgepodge of variants - counted eight so far if LANYARD and the aborted SPARTAN are included along E-1 to E-6).
The amount of leftover SAMOS satellites that ended unflown, then in storage, then crushed / melted, is pretty insane.
Perry's counts 10 E-1 / E-2 (including unflyable ones, TBH); 4*E-4; plus a load of E-5s and E-6s (not sure: 4 to 8, average 6 at least). That aproximately 20 satellites ??!!! or even 24 ??!!!  And then were LANYARD and the aborted SPARTAN, trying to salvage some cameras out of that mess... by 1963 SAMOS was being shut down at least, with CORONA and GAMBIT kind of "stabilizing" spysat types, roles and missions. But pre-1963: what a confusing mess, and waste.

I have a couple of parts from one of the Samos F-1 satellites given to me by a guy who was charged with taking it apart after the program was canceled. They are a couple of electronic components from the communications system. He and another guy ripped the payload apart and threw the pieces in a dumpster, but he kept these components. They don't have any identifying marks.

There is a lot of info available on SAMOS, but there are very few images. That has made it difficult to understand how various aspects of it worked. For instance, we have some images of the E-6 system, but it's still difficult to figure out. It's too bad that it never made it into SPARTAN and flew, because then we'd probably have more information.




Offline hoku

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #66 on: 11/04/2021 08:35 pm »
This is from a memo to Robert E. Cushman Jr, deputy director CIA, on a May 5, 1971 discussion involving Ed Proctor (Assistant DDI) and James Schlesinger (US SecDef):
"6. Schlesinger referred to [] as a complete disaster. (...) He firmly believes that we deliberately shut off all attempts to improve CORONA to make sure it would not compete with []."

Schlesinger also comments "5. (...) when the director goes to ExCOM, he (...) appears to advocate (...) always the system DD/S&T advocates. He cited [] as an example and quickly admitted that in this case CIA was right (...). He gave EOI as another example."


Any ideas/suggestions on the names of the redacted (CIA advocated) programs (one a "complete disaster", the other where "CIA was right")? The release is from 2003, thus predates recent declassifications.

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP86B00269R000400070003-7.pdf

Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #67 on: 11/04/2021 09:35 pm »
This is from a memo to Robert E. Cushman Jr, deputy director CIA, on a May 5, 1971 discussion involving Ed Proctor (Assistant DDI) and James Schlesinger (US SecDef):
"6. Schlesinger referred to [] as a complete disaster. (...) He firmly believes that we deliberately shut off all attempts to improve CORONA to make sure it would not compete with []."

Schlesinger also comments "5. (...) when the director goes to ExCOM, he (...) appears to advocate (...) always the system DD/S&T advocates. He cited [] as an example and quickly admitted that in this case CIA was right (...). He gave EOI as another example."


Any ideas/suggestions on the names of the redacted (CIA advocated) programs (one a "complete disaster", the other where "CIA was right")? The release is from 2003, thus predates recent declassifications.

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP86B00269R000400070003-7.pdf

I think the thing that he is referring to competing with CORONA was HEXAGON. It makes sense that he believed that they chose to not upgrade CORONA so that it would not compete against the HEXAGON program. I have written a very comprehensive history article on the J-3/KH-4B CORONA (the last version produced) and there was a proposal to build a J-4 version as well. My guess is that his complaint was that they did not pursue the J-4 because they wanted to put the money into HEXAGON. There is documentation supporting that. But the J-4 was not going to be significantly better than the J-3. HEXAGON was going to be significantly better. Also, considering that this was May 1971 and HEXAGON had just run into problems that delayed its launch for six months, it's reasonable to think that Schlesinger was mad about that and thought that they should have put more emphasis on CORONA.

As for "and quickly admitted that in this case CIA was right," that was probably RHYOLITE. The first RHYOLITE launch was June 1970, and there is evidence of significant skepticism about it before it flew. By the time of this memo, they already had almost a year of RHYOLITE operational data, so they knew how well it worked.

His comment about things being better since Wheelon had left... well, Wheelon broke a lot of china building up the directorate. I think Richelson's Wizards of Langley book had a quote about him being an SOB. But while a lot of people may not have liked Wheelon, it is hard to argue with success. He built the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology into a real powerhouse.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #68 on: 11/05/2021 04:03 pm »
Well shiver me timbers and call me a pirate: as I continue to polish up my LANYARD article and look at some sources I've had in hand for awhile, the timeline revises itself again.

An official CIA history on the division that oversaw the reconnaissance programs states that the LANYARD was developed to take photos of a suspected ABM missile site in Tallinn, Estonia. That history is:

Donald E. Welzenbach, “Science and Technology: Origins of a Directorate,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 30, Summer 1986, p. 24, RG 263, National Archives and Records Administration. (probably now available online)


Thanks for pointer, it's at https://www.cia.gov/static/61cd10f60876c12ac08e8d37f8526b69/50-years-directorate.pdf

Quote

LANYARD, as I noted above, was launched three times, in March, May, and July 1963. But according to Chris Manteuffel, who wrote about the Tallinn system a couple of years ago, the Tallinn site was not detected until July 1964, when CORONA Mission 1008 overflew it:

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3677/1

LANYARD was canceled by the time the Tallinn issue emerged.

Now the CIA did not initiate the LANYARD system, but they were involved. And there's a neat anecdote about how the CIA became concerned that the NRO's West Coast office, known as SAFSP (or Program B), and generally viewed as an Air Force office, was trying to take complete control of LANYARD. That's a sign of how the rivalry between the CIA and the NRO was heating up.

You meant to say that SAFSP was Program A, right ?

Was LANYARD actually initiated by Program A ? I am curious because apparently, according to his NRO bio, https://web.archive.org/web/20121007203828/http://www.nro.gov/history/csnr/leaders/directors/dir3.pdf
Wheelon's arch rival, NRO director McMillan, was a keen supporter of both LANYARD and it seems ARGON.
« Last Edit: 11/05/2021 04:06 pm by LittleBird »

Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #69 on: 11/05/2021 04:20 pm »
Was LANYARD actually initiated by Program A ? I am curious because apparently, according to his NRO bio, https://web.archive.org/web/20121007203828/http://www.nro.gov/history/csnr/leaders/directors/dir3.pdf
Wheelon's arch rival, NRO director McMillan, was a keen supporter of both LANYARD and it seems ARGON.


Yes, I meant Program A. I was drunk.

But LANYARD seems to have had the support of both the Air Force side and the CIA side. And what happened was that CIA got a little annoyed when they thought that Air Force was taking over too much of it.


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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #70 on: 12/29/2021 02:51 am »
Continuing to work on a bunch of upcoming articles. I already mentioned my detailed history of the KH-4B CORONA (the J-3 camera version, the last version to fly). I also mentioned my LANYARD article, which is also very detailed.

Somewhere in one of these threads libra mentioned the SPARTAN program. SPARTAN was an effort to salvage the Samos E-6 camera, just like LANYARD was an effort to salvage the Samos E-5 camera. LANYARD was started in late 1961, just before Samos E-5 was terminated. SPARTAN was started in January 1963, just after Samos E-6 was canceled in December 1962. (For context, there were five Samos E-6 launches all in 1962, the last in November, and all failed. That led to program cancellation in December.)

LANYARD was scheduled for launch in (I think without looking at my notes) spring 1963. It's pretty obvious that with LANYARD under development all through 1962, when Samos E-6 got canceled, NRO leadership thought that they might be able to do the same thing with E-6 that they were doing with LANYARD. So that led to the creation of SPARTAN, which was given that name because NRO Director Joseph Charyk had called for a bare-bones "spartan" program.

SPARTAN started in January 1963 with a goal of first launch by July. It was a rather odd program from a management sense, because at one point Charyk "disapproved" the development plan, but the Air Force NRO office (SAFSP) kept developing it anyway. A key difference between LANYARD and SPARTAN was that LANYARD was intended to develop an operational reconnaissance satellite. The plan was to build a bunch and gather intelligence with them. SPARTAN was intended to be an experimental program, and the thinking was that if it worked, they might then upgrade it and turn it into an operational program. Another key difference is that the CIA supported LANYARD, but the CIA did not support SPARTAN and viewed it as a threat to CIA plans to upgrade CORONA. (Sidenote: the program got a number designation that replaced the name SPARTAN in February. It is unclear if the name SPARTAN continued to be used up to July.)

All of this is based upon Robert Perry's history, which has over a dozen pages on SPARTAN. Reading that again reminded me how annoying Perry's writing is, because at times it is really difficult to understand what he is saying. That said, he interviewed the people at the time, and records on SPARTAN don't really exist (unless I've missed them--lemme know if you find any documents), so Perry is still the best source.

When I mentioned that SPARTAN was an odd program, apparently even though Charyk had for all intents and purposes canceled it, Kodak was still working on adapting the E-6 camera to the SPARTAN spacecraft. They were apparently doing this in March-June 1963, and according to Perry, they were still holding to the July launch date (which slipped to August). If that's true, then they must have been building hardware at that time, not simply "studying" it, as Charyk had authorized.

In July 1963 SPARTAN was canceled. Perry indicates that work had slowed down by May. And there was a bureaucratic issue that really undercut the program. The new NRO director, Brockway McMillan, had ordered a study of the Samos E-6 vs. the CIA's proposed CORONA-MURAL upgrade (known as the MURAL-2). While this was being studied, it took the wind out of the sails for flying the SPARTAN experiment. It didn't make much sense to fly SPARTAN while other people were trying to figure out which system was better--SPARTAN could wait until they made some decisions.

When SPARTAN got canceled in July, it was apparently because various people didn't see any real value to it. CORONA was already producing imagery on a regular basis, and E-6 could possibly do a bit better. But at what expense? SPARTAN and E-6 just were not significantly better and distinctive enough to be worthwhile.

There was something else that happened around this time, although I have to go research it a bit because I've forgotten the details. That was that CIA official Albert "Bud" Wheelon had ordered a big study of satellite resolution to determine just what kind of capability was needed. Wheelon thought that these decisions on the required resolution were being made without any clear data. So he wanted to have people figure out what kinds of weapons could be detected and identified at specific resolutions. I don't remember the exact timing on that, but it probably undercut McMillan's study, because there was no point in deciding on which system was "better" when they didn't have a good definition of what "good, better, best" actually meant with the photography. That study that Wheelon commissioned eventually concluded that what they needed was a system with GAMBIT resolution (~3 feet) and CORONA area coverage (100+ miles east-west). That eventually led to FULCRUM and then to HEXAGON. M-2 and E-6 were long forgotten by that point.


So... I initially started looking at SPARTAN three days ago so that I could add a few paragraphs to the end of my detailed LANYARD article. But by the time I finished typing up my notes, I realized that I had most of the structure for an article on SPARTAN as well. In other words, I slipped and accidentally wrote another article. You'll see the SPARTAN piece on The Space Review in a few weeks.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #71 on: 12/29/2021 10:36 am »

... CIA official Albert "Bud" Wheelon had ordered a big study of satellite resolution to determine just what kind of capability was needed. Wheelon thought that these decisions on the required resolution were being made without any clear data. So he wanted to have people figure out what kinds of weapons could be detected and identified at specific resolutions. I don't remember the exact timing on that, but it probably undercut McMillan's study, because there was no point in deciding on which system was "better" when they didn't have a good definition of what "good, better, best" actually meant with the photography.


One interesting aspect of all this is that McMillan's speciality was information theory.

Wikipedia says (my boldfacing): "He received his B.S. in 1936 and a Ph.D. 1939 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a thesis entitled The calculus of discrete homogenous chaos supervised by Norbert Wiener.[4] He also served in the U.S. Navy at Dahlgren and Los Alamos during World War II. He joined Bell Telephone Laboratories 1946 as a research mathematician  and published the article "The Basic Theorems of Information Theory"[5] and proved parts of Kraft's inequality, sometimes called the Kraft-McMillan theorem (Kraft proved that if the inequality is satisfied, then a prefix code exists with the given lengths. McMillan showed that unique decodeability implies that the inequality holds.)[6]

McMillan served as the President of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) 1959-1960.[7]

McMillan became assistant director of systems engineering in 1955 and was named director of military research in 1959. From 1961 to 1965 he was with the U.S. Air Force as assistant secretary for research and development and then undersecretary of the Air Force. He rejoined Bell Labs in 1965 and retired in 1979 as vice-president for military development. He was an IEEE Fellow, past president of SIAM, and member of several mathematical organizations.[8]


I don't doubt that he may have had all the flaws usually attributed to him [*] but I am getting the feeling there was more to the story than we usually hear ... in particular a very familiar kind of clash between an applied mathematician and a theoretical physicist.

[* e.g.  Richelson's "Secret Eyes", page 79 where he is described as a "Bell Telephone Labs executive who had served with Scoville" [on TENCAP]. He says "Scoville referred  to McMillan [many years later] as an incompetent whose only talent was fighting organizatonal battles" (citation is to an interview).]
« Last Edit: 12/29/2021 11:23 am by LittleBird »

Online Blackstar

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #72 on: 12/29/2021 12:03 pm »
Is it the Martin Faga NRO interview where Faga refers to McMillan as the only NRO Director never to be invited back to headquarters?

Offline LittleBird

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #73 on: 12/29/2021 03:34 pm »
Is it the Martin Faga NRO interview where Faga refers to McMillan as the only NRO Director never to be invited back to headquarters?

Probably, in that I recall reading that and I think Jimmie Hill was more diplomatic ;-). But I can't immediately put my hand on my copy. I don't think it was in any other DNRO interview.

The other place I might have seen it is Butterworth's SIGINT history chapters.

Offline libra

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #74 on: 12/29/2021 06:46 pm »
The sheer waste of the entire SAMOS E-(number) program is unbelievable. I tried (from Perry history, so perhaps not much reliable) counting all the sats they build but never launched: ended with a dozen if not two dozens - between E-1, E-2, E-4, E-5, E-6, notably the last two. No surprise they tried "recycling" some of that waste.

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #75 on: 12/30/2021 12:00 am »
The sheer waste of the entire SAMOS E-(number) program is unbelievable. I tried (from Perry history, so perhaps not much reliable) counting all the sats they build but never launched: ended with a dozen if not two dozens - between E-1, E-2, E-4, E-5, E-6, notably the last two. No surprise they tried "recycling" some of that waste.


According to the Perry volume on Samos E-5 and E-6, by early 1963 there were five Samos E-1 and three E-2 payloads in storage, along with eight Samos E-6 cameras. Because E-6 used two cameras, that added up to enough for four Samos E-6 spacecraft, although SPARTAN would use one or possibly two cameras if it was pursued.

I forget how many Samos E-5 cameras were left when the program was terminated, although I can look that up. I think there were about four Samos E-4 cameras left over when that program was terminated. E-4 is a bit of a mystery according to one of the histories, because there are no photos of that camera system. They built it, but there's no record what it looked like.



Update: just checked and there were five incomplete Samos E-5 camera systems placed in storage when the program was canceled. The records are somewhat confusing on this, because they indicate that five systems were procured and one flew, so there should only have been four systems in storage, not five. But it's possible that one of the five systems was a ground test article.
« Last Edit: 12/30/2021 01:01 am by Blackstar »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #76 on: 12/30/2021 06:14 am »
Is it the Martin Faga NRO interview where Faga refers to McMillan as the only NRO Director never to be invited back to headquarters?

Probably, in that I recall reading that and I think Jimmie Hill was more diplomatic ;-). But I can't immediately put my hand on my copy. I don't think it was in any other DNRO interview.

The other place I might have seen it is Butterworth's SIGINT history chapters.

In fact I don't think it was in the Faga interview unless the NRO did more than one. See attached, via archive.org
Does have an interesting vignette of how Faga and the interviewer, Haines, saw him in 1996 though.

« Last Edit: 12/31/2021 05:45 am by LittleBird »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #77 on: 12/30/2021 06:45 am »
The sheer waste of the entire SAMOS E-(number) program is unbelievable. I tried (from Perry history, so perhaps not much reliable) counting all the sats they build but never launched: ended with a dozen if not two dozens - between E-1, E-2, E-4, E-5, E-6, notably the last two. No surprise they tried "recycling" some of that waste.

I know what you mean, I think, but it's worth remembering that the period from Sputnik 1 to the Cuban Missile Crisis is just 5 years ...

At that stage, as I'm sure I've said before, it was pretty much all new, and all "a learning experience" as we say these days ... though in another sense it had all been studied since the late 40s RAND work.
« Last Edit: 12/30/2021 06:46 am by LittleBird »

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #78 on: 12/30/2021 12:48 pm »
I've been reading the Perry volume on Samos E-5 and E-6. (Pause for my standard kvetching about Perry's writing: he often has interesting information found nowhere else, but his style of writing is aggravating. Rather than a simple straight-up description of a subject, meeting, or action, he always seems to back into it, making it hard to understand exactly what he is saying.)

Something that is coming out of that volume is the growing realization within SAFSP, NRO, and the camera manufacturers that oscillating cameras--back-forth-back-forth--are not a good approach, and that rotating cameras are better. This was a reason why NRO Director Joe Charyk was interested in the E-5 compared to the CORONA-MURAL-2 (a bigger version of CORONA-MURAL). He thought that the back-and-forth movement of the MURAL camera was inherently inferior, whereas the E-6 had a smoother operating mode. (We don't know exactly what that is, because there are no good descriptions of the E-6 camera.)

The same then proved true for the LANYARD camera that came out of the Samos E-5. It "clanked" back and forth, as Perry wrote. Compared to the GAMBIT, which was also in development at the same time, it had a lot more vibration. GAMBIT simply pulled the film along smoothly. (Now that's not an exact comparison, because GAMBIT covered much less area, and the LANYARD camera had to oscillate like that to scan more territory below the satellite.)

So this was something that they were learning by doing. And it's why systems started to fall out of favor.

Offline libra

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Re: CORONA Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #79 on: 12/30/2021 01:24 pm »
The sheer waste of the entire SAMOS E-(number) program is unbelievable. I tried (from Perry history, so perhaps not much reliable) counting all the sats they build but never launched: ended with a dozen if not two dozens - between E-1, E-2, E-4, E-5, E-6, notably the last two. No surprise they tried "recycling" some of that waste.


According to the Perry volume on Samos E-5 and E-6, by early 1963 there were five Samos E-1 and three E-2 payloads in storage, along with eight Samos E-6 cameras. Because E-6 used two cameras, that added up to enough for four Samos E-6 spacecraft, although SPARTAN would use one or possibly two cameras if it was pursued.

I forget how many Samos E-5 cameras were left when the program was terminated, although I can look that up. I think there were about four Samos E-4 cameras left over when that program was terminated. E-4 is a bit of a mystery according to one of the histories, because there are no photos of that camera system. They built it, but there's no record what it looked like.

Update: just checked and there were five incomplete Samos E-5 camera systems placed in storage when the program was canceled. The records are somewhat confusing on this, because they indicate that five systems were procured and one flew, so there should only have been four systems in storage, not five. But it's possible that one of the five systems was a ground test article.

Damn, that's 21 spacecraft.  :o   

Don't know who got the scrapping / melting contract to destroy these birds, but he got probably busy for a while.

 

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