Author Topic: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 213145 times)

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #580 on: 04/27/2017 06:10 PM »
Surely enough the lineage of Key Holes was long split between high-resolution (Gambit, Dorian) and broad mapping (Corona and Hexagon).
I always felt that the KH-11 more belonged to the high-resolution camp and thus that the KH-9 capability was never fully replaced. Looks like they regretted it in GW1.

Which begs an interesting question: was there a KH-9 successor project somewhere between 1971 and 1985 ?

Both Corona and Hexagon produced enormous volumes of photos. One can wonder if KH-11 -era digital memory storage could have handled such volume.
I wonder what is harder from a storage point of view: small number of very high resolution pictures OR a boatload of medium resolution pictures ?
To answer one of Archibald's question: some replacement for Hexagon as the "national broad-area-search system" was to be ready by 1985 according to NRO's 1981 planning, as stated in F13-0119_NRP_Use_of_Space_Shuttle.pdf - see http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33631.0

Online kevin-rf

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #581 on: 04/27/2017 06:30 PM »
Dare I suggest Lacrosse?

It first launched in 1988. With the Challenger accident delays, it could very well have been the intended 1985 system.

The loss of the KH-9's broad search capability without a suitable replacement has always puzzled me.
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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #582 on: 04/27/2017 07:37 PM »
Dare I suggest Lacrosse?

It first launched in 1988. With the Challenger accident delays, it could very well have been the intended 1985 system.


No.

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #583 on: 04/27/2017 09:04 PM »
Dare I suggest Lacrosse?

It first launched in 1988. With the Challenger accident delays, it could very well have been the intended 1985 system.


No.

So what was it? Was the search capability picked up by the KH-11, by other means like some form of SIGINT, or just not needed?
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Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #584 on: 04/28/2017 07:43 AM »
Dare I suggest Lacrosse?

It first launched in 1988. With the Challenger accident delays, it could very well have been the intended 1985 system.


No.

So what was it? Was the search capability picked up by the KH-11, by other means like some form of SIGINT, or just not needed?
Some believe it was placed elsewhere but I suspect Blackstar may say it was not needed with the KH-11.

The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 07:44 AM by Star One »

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #585 on: 04/28/2017 02:57 PM »
The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
Sorry to derail the thread, but seems some people are very adamant that LACROSSE could not fill the KH-9 role.
I am a little curious as to why.

Too narrow a field of view?
Active scanning is not stealthy enough?
Doesn't show everything that optical imaging can?
Not enough power/bandwidth to cover everything needed?
Not high enough resolution?

Just curious.
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Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #586 on: 04/28/2017 03:04 PM »
The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
Sorry to derail the thread, but seems some people are very adamant that LACROSSE could not fill the KH-9 role.
I am a little curious as to why.

Too narrow a field of view?
Active scanning is not stealthy enough?
Doesn't show everything that optical imaging can?
Not enough power/bandwidth to cover everything needed?
Not high enough resolution?

Just curious.

Further to my comments above some believe that this function was fulfilled by still classified air systems. I can't say I am very believing of this myself.

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #587 on: 04/28/2017 07:14 PM »
The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
Sorry to derail the thread, but seems some people are very adamant that LACROSSE could not fill the KH-9 role.
I am a little curious as to why.

Too narrow a field of view?
Active scanning is not stealthy enough?
Doesn't show everything that optical imaging can?
Not enough power/bandwidth to cover everything needed?
Not high enough resolution?

Just curious.

Yes.

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #588 on: 04/28/2017 07:17 PM »
The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
Sorry to derail the thread, but seems some people are very adamant that LACROSSE could not fill the KH-9 role.
I am a little curious as to why.

Too narrow a field of view?
Active scanning is not stealthy enough?
Doesn't show everything that optical imaging can?
Not enough power/bandwidth to cover everything needed?
Not high enough resolution?

Just curious.

Yes.

I wonder if any of these were solved in the FIA-Radar solution.

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #589 on: 04/28/2017 10:00 PM »
According to a newly-declassified document I have, they "solved" the wide-area search requirement by increasing the bandwidth for the KH-11 system (that includes the SDS relay satellites). Now if that really satisfied the requirement, or they changed the requirement and it was different than before, I don't know. But that's what I got.

All this reminds me that I should write part 2 of my "Black Ops and the Shuttle" series and address WASP and ZEUS in greater detail.

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #590 on: 04/28/2017 11:16 PM »
According to a newly-declassified document I have, they "solved" the wide-area search requirement by increasing the bandwidth for the KH-11 system (that includes the SDS relay satellites). Now if that really satisfied the requirement, or they changed the requirement and it was different than before, I don't know. But that's what I got.

All this reminds me that I should write part 2 of my "Black Ops and the Shuttle" series and address WASP and ZEUS in greater detail.

Is the bandwidth requirements why they need to have some Quasar satellites in Molynia orbits so that there is total global coverage.

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #591 on: 04/29/2017 01:15 AM »
Is the bandwidth requirements why they need to have some Quasar satellites in Molynia orbits so that there is total global coverage.

They needed them in those orbits from the start.

Online kevin-rf

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #592 on: 04/29/2017 02:08 AM »
According to a newly-declassified document I have, they "solved" the wide-area search requirement by increasing the bandwidth for the KH-11 system (that includes the SDS relay satellites).
In 1985, or post the first Gulf War? Those are two different things...

Quote
Now if that really satisfied the requirement, or they changed the requirement and it was different than before, I don't know. But that's what I got.
Considering Powell's post Gulf War quip of 'Looking Through a Soda Straw', completely missing India's nuclear testing break out, and what ever post Gulf War KH-11 8x was I would argue they didn't meet the need. If it met the requirement is a different question.  That said, the KH-9 returned a ton of data. Maybe they thought it was more imagery than the need... a government agency saying they have to much data, kinda of a stretch.

Quote
All this reminds me that I should write part 2 of my "Black Ops and the Shuttle" series and address WASP and ZEUS in greater detail.
yes
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Offline gosnold

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #593 on: 04/29/2017 01:55 PM »
The one thing it certainly wasn't and that was Lacrosse.
Sorry to derail the thread, but seems some people are very adamant that LACROSSE could not fill the KH-9 role.
I am a little curious as to why.

Too narrow a field of view?
Active scanning is not stealthy enough?
Doesn't show everything that optical imaging can?
Not enough power/bandwidth to cover everything needed?
Not high enough resolution?

Just curious.

Yes.

I read somewhere that Lacrosse was aimed at following Soviet mobile missile launchers. If that's true, it probably had a wide swath to find the targets, but a moderate resolution when using that search mode. A radar image with 1m resolution is probably enough to detect the launchers when you know what your are looking for, but compared to the 60cm-resolution optical images of the Hexagon, it might not be enough for retrospective analysis of unknown facilities, or to detect unusual construction. Radar images are much harder to interpret than optical ones.

On the other hand, even with a narrow field of view, the combined capability of the KH-11 constellation, added up over one year, could come close to the coverage provided by a KH-9 flight. I think it did the math some time ago, I'll look for it.

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #594 on: 04/30/2017 02:15 AM »
Don't forget, the missile launcher is much larger than say a car or random rock, and should have a much stronger radar return. The point being, the radar "image" doesn't have to be the highest resolution if the launcher has some unique radar characteristics. It doesn't even need to resolve the a launcher, especially if they have previously mapped the general area, and it's radar return just sticks out like a sore thumb.

That said, the German TIRA made and released some very high resolution images of the failed Phobos-Grunt Mars probe a few years back. It proves it is within the realm to be able to produce high resolution radar images.
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Offline gosnold

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #595 on: 04/30/2017 08:02 AM »
I found one article by Dwayne Day with resolution figures for Lacrosse:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/790/1
Radar love: the tortured history of American space radar programs
Quote
The satellite’s average radar resolution was reported to be about one meter, probably in the standard “pushbroom” mode where the radar essentially looks straight down and takes a continuous image, like a push broom being pushed across a floor. However, synthetic aperture radars have a mode called “spotlighting” whereby they spend several seconds taking repeated images of the same small area to improve resolution. By taking images for up to 17 seconds, Onyx reportedly could obtain a resolution of about 0.3 meters for a small area.

It support my explanation above: with 1m resolution in radar in wide-swath mode, Lacrosse is worse than Hexagon for wide-area intelligence search. The article dates back to 2007 though, so maybe new information has come to light.

Don't forget, the missile launcher is much larger than say a car or random rock, and should have a much stronger radar return. The point being, the radar "image" doesn't have to be the highest resolution if the launcher has some unique radar characteristics. It doesn't even need to resolve the a launcher, especially if they have previously mapped the general area, and it's radar return just sticks out like a sore thumb.

That said, the German TIRA made and released some very high resolution images of the failed Phobos-Grunt Mars probe a few years back. It proves it is within the realm to be able to produce high resolution radar images.

Yes, though as explained above, a radar sat usually has a low-resolution mode with a wide swath and a high-resolution mode with a small swath.

Offline Star One

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KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #596 on: 04/30/2017 07:37 PM »
I found one article by Dwayne Day with resolution figures for Lacrosse:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/790/1
Radar love: the tortured history of American space radar programs
Quote
The satellite’s average radar resolution was reported to be about one meter, probably in the standard “pushbroom” mode where the radar essentially looks straight down and takes a continuous image, like a push broom being pushed across a floor. However, synthetic aperture radars have a mode called “spotlighting” whereby they spend several seconds taking repeated images of the same small area to improve resolution. By taking images for up to 17 seconds, Onyx reportedly could obtain a resolution of about 0.3 meters for a small area.

It support my explanation above: with 1m resolution in radar in wide-swath mode, Lacrosse is worse than Hexagon for wide-area intelligence search. The article dates back to 2007 though, so maybe new information has come to light.

Don't forget, the missile launcher is much larger than say a car or random rock, and should have a much stronger radar return. The point being, the radar "image" doesn't have to be the highest resolution if the launcher has some unique radar characteristics. It doesn't even need to resolve the a launcher, especially if they have previously mapped the general area, and it's radar return just sticks out like a sore thumb.

That said, the German TIRA made and released some very high resolution images of the failed Phobos-Grunt Mars probe a few years back. It proves it is within the realm to be able to produce high resolution radar images.

Yes, though as explained above, a radar sat usually has a low-resolution mode with a wide swath and a high-resolution mode with a small swath.

You should keep in mind that it's known the antenna designs of the Onyx satellites altered across the programs life as they appear to have been constructed in two blocks, I suspect this reflected changes in their capabilities. Also in these two blocks Onyx 5 had a completely different antenna design to those before it. This was established when images of them in orbit were put online.

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/onyx.htm

Quote
It appears that Lacrosse 5 has a planar radar antenna, unlike the dish antennas of earlier Lacrosses, notes satellite watcher, Allen Thomson, who recently posted the Russian paper.

https://www.leonarddavid.com/revealing-look-at-once-secret-spysat/
« Last Edit: 04/30/2017 07:46 PM by Star One »

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #597 on: 04/30/2017 08:01 PM »
You should keep in mind that it's known the antenna designs of the Onyx satellites altered across the programs life as they appear to have been constructed in two blocks, I suspect this reflected changes in their capabilities. Also in these two blocks Onyx 5 had a completely different antenna design to those before it. This was established when images of them in orbit were put online.
And don't forget, a third design (fourth if USA-193 is included) for the current generation (TOPAZ). The current generation is now built by Boeing. They whole class has evolved significantly since 1988.
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Offline Star One

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KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #598 on: 04/30/2017 08:06 PM »
You should keep in mind that it's known the antenna designs of the Onyx satellites altered across the programs life as they appear to have been constructed in two blocks, I suspect this reflected changes in their capabilities. Also in these two blocks Onyx 5 had a completely different antenna design to those before it. This was established when images of them in orbit were put online.
And don't forget, a third design (fourth if USA-193 is included) for the current generation (TOPAZ). The current generation is now built by Boeing. They whole class has evolved significantly since 1988.

It's interesting that Onyx 5 debuted a completely different design seemingly as a one off, even before it was revealed people suspected this because of its famous disappearing trick from visual observers on the ground.
« Last Edit: 04/30/2017 08:06 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #599 on: 05/01/2017 03:19 PM »
A bit OT but I find it curious that the NRO appear to have launched a tactical reconnaissance satellite today. Curious in that I thought they had farmed this particular mission out to the commercial sector. Why do something yourself when you can get the private sector to do it for you and buy in the product?
« Last Edit: 05/01/2017 03:20 PM by Star One »

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