Author Topic: KH-11 KENNEN  (Read 347047 times)

Offline LittleBird

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1020 on: 01/23/2024 11:42 am »

Iím guessing the images in this report could originally been from a KH-11 but downgraded, but these days could just as easily be commercial images:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/22/uk-sends-un-experts-photographs-north-korean-shipments-russia
The "2023 Planet Labs Inc." in the corner is rather a giveaway.

200 satellites, 50 cm resolution ... I still find today's world hard to get used to sometimes ;-)  https://www.planet.com/products/
Arenít there meant to be calls by the commercial sector to be allowed to go a lot better than 50 cm now for non-government customers?

Maxar was doing better than 30cm 50cm ten years ago, and now offers a 30cm basemap,  see
https://blog.maxar.com/leading-the-industry/2023/the-first-30-cm-hd-global-imagery-basemap
my point was really just about the *combination* of so many satellites of good enough resolution,
« Last Edit: 03/19/2024 03:35 am by LittleBird »

Offline StraumliBlight

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1021 on: 01/23/2024 01:50 pm »
Arenít there meant to be calls by the commercial sector to be allowed to go a lot better than 50 cm now for non-government customers?

Albedo will offer commercial 10 cm satellite imagery in early 2025, with a few caveats.

Offline jg

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1022 on: 01/23/2024 06:14 pm »
Don't naively presume that Hubble used the same detectors as the KH11.

The CCD's built for Hubble were built by Texas instruments as I remember, and the Hubble camera was put together by Jim Gunn at Caltech.

These were the first CCDs which were backlit and thinned, a process by which the chip was made very thin so the light could come in the back side and avoid much of the light being absorbed by the electrodes on the surface that do the magic of moving the charge around. This meant that the quantum efficiency was basically that of raw silicon, which is very high indeed, rather than merely something in the 30% range.

All of us working on other CCDs were very envious of the chips that Jim got for Hubble at vast cost, and it was quite a few years before alternatives as good as used for Hubble were available for ground-based telescopes. We just couldn't afford what TI charged!

Quantum efficiency is not a big deal if you're looking down at the Earth as you have tons of photons available!

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Offline Star One

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1023 on: 01/24/2024 10:36 am »
Aren’t there meant to be calls by the commercial sector to be allowed to go a lot better than 50 cm now for non-government customers?

Albedo will offer commercial 10 cm satellite imagery in early 2025, with a few caveats.
Slightly surprised they’ve authorised 10cm imaging.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1024 on: 03/15/2024 04:25 am »
What does strike me in the 77 docs is that people were anticipating a funding crunch and that as KH-11 would be kept, one other system would likely be phased out. This1977  doc: https://www.nro.gov/Portals/65/documents/foia/declass/GAMBIT%20DM/4.pdf (link still works, pdf attached) seems to be making the argument that you'd be better off keeping GAMBIT than HEXAGON if that was the choice. But I don't know if it is done for SAFSP or a proposal to them from Kodak and LMSC. [Edit: I assume this is the one you refer to as "Kodak's argument" above, Blackstar ?]

That's the one I was thinking of.

What's keeping this issue murky is that we still don't have anything good about early KENNEN operations and then upgrades. KENNEN appears to have had some early limitations in terms of resolution, bandwidth, and area coverage. All those things were gradually improved.

(Sidenote: It also apparently had some lifetime and operations issues. I was once told by somebody--this might be in one of Richelson's books--that at one point they were having problems with the relay satellites being in the "wrong place" when the KENNEN was transmitting. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but it was apparently a coordination issue between CIA's Program B and USAF's Program A within the NRO. That discussion belongs in the KENNEN thread.)

 

Taking this topic over here as requested by Blackstar. One thing that is interesting about interaction between satellites in Molniya/HEO and other orbits is that it seems to have been helpful to have a ground station talking to both. The decision to put JUMPSEAT at least partly under control of a Colorado site  (now essentially confirmed, see DSP thread) that also talked to DSP clearly made a difference to their joint usability-even if not a bug free process, as attested in Richelson's "Space Sentinels" among other sources. Were SDS/QUASAR and  KENNEN controlled from same point ? And if so was this from the start ?

Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1025 on: 03/15/2024 07:02 am »
Arenít there meant to be calls by the commercial sector to be allowed to go a lot better than 50 cm now for non-government customers?

Albedo will offer commercial 10 cm satellite imagery in early 2025, with a few caveats.

Unbelievable... MOL / KH-8 ground resolution (or close) from private companies.

Quote
200 satellites, 50 cm resolution ... I still find today's world hard to get used to sometimes

You nailed it.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #1026 on: 03/18/2024 12:10 pm »
Interesting oral history at AIP by Daniel Ford with Robert J Kohler: https://www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/40912-16

I'll respect the AIP request not to excerpt it but there's lots to enjoy, especially about Richard Garwin's role (interview is one of a series about Garwin) and in particular the info that Westinghouse in Baltimore made the CCDs for KH-11 when these replaced the original EOI sensor. I think the existing docs list Westinghouse as one of the contractors for the original sensor but story stops before onset of CCDs.

Good story about how Garwin debugged problems with CCD production by suggesting they check the humidifier in the Baltimore plant ... as one other interviewee says Garwin is the kind of physicist you want as a neighbour, having a degree of skill at fixing things not usually associated with theorists ;-)

Many years ago I got a call from Garwin's biographer asking if I had anything on him. I only had a couple of anecdotes and no documents. Garwin was supposedly someone who led a report on MOL that raised the issue of the astronauts degrading the imagery. We don't have that report.

I see on looking back that my first post in this forum was about Garwin and mentioned Joel Shurkin's bio of him. 1100 or so posts and 3 + years later I've got round to downloading the Kindle sampler ;-) ... I did say I was a slow worker. It's a bit dry but I'm sure many here would find it interesting  ... the sampler leaves the reader in suspense just before he takes up the problem of making the Teller-Ulam idea work in practise ...

And in that regard, here's Shurkin's recounting of  a rather macabre Garwin joke that I suspect many friends, colleagues and sparring partners might indeed have told, based even on what I've seen in the declassified MOL docs etc.

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