Author Topic: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites  (Read 122755 times)

Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #360 on: 12/31/2023 06:13 pm »
COMPASS LINK was in a van at Tan Son Nhut airbase right from July 1967.  There was a similar relay van in Hawaii.
Just in time for the Tet offensive attacks on the base early February 1968. They were repealed, but the NRO must have been a little scared.
I wrote a little thing about COMPASS LINK and plan to publish it at The Space Review.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2023 06:18 pm by Emmettvonbrown »

Offline Targeteer

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Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline LittleBird

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #362 on: 01/24/2024 07:51 pm »
https://twitter.com/NatReconOfc/status/1749991658408550632

I donít recall a dual camera GAMBIT. Is this the dual platen version mentioned in The Gambit Story ?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #363 on: 01/24/2024 09:28 pm »
It is a reference to the 9 inch and 5 inch camera version.

Technically, each device that exposes film is considered a camera, so there were two cameras.

They could have picked a better photo for their tweet, one that showed the camera setup.

I talked to somebody who was involved in adding that 5-inch camera to the GAMBIT. He said that it was probably something that was proposed inside of Kodak rather than a requirement from the customer. He said that when they were going to eliminate the mapping camera because it was no longer necessary because of HEXAGON entering service, they had more space inside the vehicle, and adding that second camera was how they used up that space.

I have not seen a really good detailed description of how that second camera was used. I think I have seen two different/related explanations. One was that it was used for "closeups" of targets, and the other that it was devoted to the creation of briefing prints. That seems to imply that they used that camera to photograph targets that they were interested in having better photos that they could enlarge to do intelligence briefings, possibly enlargements specifically for intelligence reports. Put it another way, the 9-inch camera was used to discover new things, whereas the 5-inch camera was used to produce better photos of things they already knew about, like submarines or launch sites.


Online edzieba

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #364 on: 01/25/2024 09:48 am »
It would also have made testing of alternative filmstocks (colour, multispectral IR, ultra high ISO, etc) more palatable. Flying a new stock would then not have meant loss of baseline capability for that mission, which would be the case with the single slit.

I think I recall one of the GAMBIT3 releases having notes on Kodak film stocks flown per mission. NRO have changed their website layout, so it may take some digging for me to find it again.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #365 on: 01/25/2024 10:01 pm »
It would also have made testing of alternative filmstocks (colour, multispectral IR, ultra high ISO, etc) more palatable. Flying a new stock would then not have meant loss of baseline capability for that mission, which would be the case with the single slit.

That is true. Splicing in new films must have been a big hassle, because you had to plan very carefully for the use of that film. Splitting up the film among two cameras would have eased that.

I'd add, however, that this was an experimental mission, whereas the operational intelligence collection mission took priority.


I think I recall one of the GAMBIT3 releases having notes on Kodak film stocks flown per mission. NRO have changed their website layout, so it may take some digging for me to find it again.

I don't remember seeing that.


Online edzieba

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #366 on: 01/26/2024 03:24 pm »
I've had no luck finding the mission reports, but I did find (in the Kodak Picturebook, p.6 [1]) that all the 'special films' were flown on missions prior to the first dual-platen mission (vehicle 48). So prior to then they had to splice film lengths and load according to expected targets, then either run film back and forth to the correct stocks (if GAMBIT could even reverse feed, which I can't recall being a capability) or if target opportunity did not align with the stock coming up in the reel just roll it through unused and miss out on the opportunity and waste film. The second slit would definitely help with that particular problem.

[1] https://www.nro.gov/Portals/135/documents/foia/declass/ForAll/041921/F-2020-00062_C05129338.pdf , also attached

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #367 on: 01/26/2024 04:19 pm »
Thank you. There are a number of CORONA reports on special films. I can provide citations later. Generally, they were not impressed, because they lowered resolution. On a lower resolution system like CORONA, that may have been a bigger deal.

Offline Star One

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The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #368 on: 03/03/2024 09:48 am »
I know this is a bit OT but I thought this forthcoming book might still be of interest to some on this thread. I’m hoping there might be some mention and details of the overlap between satellite and aircraft from this period.

U-2 ‘Dragon Lady’ Units 1955-90

Quote
An illustrated account of the early service of the Lockheed U-2, one of the most important and longest-serving intelligence gathering platforms fielded by the US air force.

The U-2 is one of the most recognizable aircraft of the Cold War; nicknamed the 'Dragon Lady' after the codename given to it by the CIA, this powered glider was designed and operated in great secrecy, providing US authorities with photographic and electronic information from areas of interest across the globe. This illuminating new volume dives deep into the U-2's most critical missions, exploring its role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, nuclear reconnaissance in the Soviet Union, and intelligence missions in China and North Vietnam.

Using previously unpublished research, aviation expert Peter E. Davies examines the operations of one of the landmark aircraft of the 20th century from a fresh and engaging perspective, enhanced by more than 50 photos and 21 newly commissioned profile artworks.

https://www.ospreypublishing.com/uk/u2-dragon-lady-units-195590-9781472861689/
« Last Edit: 03/03/2024 09:48 am by Star One »

Offline Targeteer

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Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Targeteer

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #370 on: 03/10/2024 05:35 am »
Obviously long before video rocket cams.  How was this film footage recovered? https://twitter.com/brkgkc16/status/1763663443255562318
« Last Edit: 03/10/2024 02:56 pm by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline gwiz

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #371 on: 03/10/2024 03:03 pm »
Obviously long before video rocket cams.  How was this film footage recovered?
Presumably the same sort of recoverable camera pod that was used to get those familiar shots of Saturn staging events.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #372 on: 03/10/2024 03:11 pm »
Obviously long before video rocket cams.  How was this film footage recovered?
Presumably the same sort of recoverable camera pod that was used to get those familiar shots of Saturn staging events.

Indeed. I find myself wondering what else might have used them.

Offline JetProp

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #373 on: 03/10/2024 05:48 pm »
How was this film footage recovered?
Hello! Answer about it contained at this film at 07:22. It was ejected capsules.

P. S. sorry my bad english...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #374 on: 03/22/2024 01:13 am »
Will be writing a bit more on GAMBIT in the next few weeks. May finally have a better idea of the issue of "ultra high resolution" and "very high resolution" in the early 1970s. May not know what the dividing limit (i.e. the number of inches) was that determined UHR from VHR, but both terms were apparently being discussed at the same time. I previously thought that the term UHR may have replaced VHR, but that doesn't seem to be the case.


Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #375 on: 03/22/2024 06:48 pm »
Simple search from "outside" the NRO website brings 37 results for "utra high resolution".

"ultra high resolution" site:www.nro.gov

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=%22ultra+high+resolution%22+site%3Awww.nro.gov

Gonna be interesting - as usual.

The attached document features a few different mixes of spysats, from PINTO to ZAMAN. They were clearly looking at the optimal bang for the buck. With all the different concepts and the many different missions: VHR, UHR, FRO & NRT.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2024 07:02 pm by Emmettvonbrown »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #376 on: 03/22/2024 11:50 pm »
The attached document features a few different mixes of spysats, from PINTO to ZAMAN. They were clearly looking at the optimal bang for the buck. With all the different concepts and the many different missions: VHR, UHR, FRO & NRT.

I covered those and more here:

https://thespacereview.com/article/4682/1


Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #377 on: 03/30/2024 10:43 am »
Simple search from "outside" the NRO website brings 37 results for "utra high resolution".

"ultra high resolution" site:www.nro.gov

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=%22ultra+high+resolution%22+site%3Awww.nro.gov


Thanks for that. I have not gone through all of them, but I think that the UHR definition was lower in the 1960s. A few of those documents define UHR as 1-2 feet. A new document from 1974 mentions both UHR and VHR, but the resolution figures are blocked out. By that time, it seems to me that the baseline best resolution was around 12 inches. That was the goal for KENNEN, and I think that GAMBIT was achieving around that at best by then.

My working assumption is that by 1974, UHR referred to 6 inches (maybe 6-12 inches?), and VHR was 4 inches (maybe 4-6 inches?). We know that MOL/DORIAN was aimed at 4 inches and it was considered a VHR system, so that gives us something to go on.




Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #378 on: 03/31/2024 04:26 pm »
By the way, I remember that KH-8 established an all time record of 2.3 inch, very close from the Fried limit of 2 inch. Do we know when was that record established ?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The KH-7 and KH-8 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites
« Reply #379 on: 03/31/2024 05:24 pm »
By the way, I remember that KH-8 established an all time record of 2.3 inch, very close from the Fried limit of 2 inch. Do we know when was that record established ?

No. I was the one who reported that, and I am starting to doubt that is accurate. I think we need to go with the accidentally-reported figure that is now in Wikipedia.

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