Author Topic: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 215323 times)

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #600 on: 05/01/2017 03:30 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.

Maybe they thought it was better to buy one off the shelf compared to constantly paying Digital Globe, etal... Also, less chance of another snowden leaking a list of what images the NRO paid to acquire.

That said, 50ish degrees is interesting when synced up with the sun correctly. In some areas, each day allows for two good nadir daylight passes, with multiple slant passes.  Just saying... if done right, it would be good for multiple passes, multiple times a day over the Mid East or North Korea.
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Offline Star One

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KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #601 on: 05/01/2017 03:37 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.

Maybe they thought it was better to buy one off the shelf compared to constantly paying Digital Globe, etal... Also, less chance of another snowden leaking a list of what images the NRO paid to acquire.

That said, 50ish degrees is interesting when synced up with the sun correctly. In some areas, each day allows for two good nadir daylight passes, with multiple slant passes.  Just saying... if done right, it would be good for multiple passes, multiple times a day over the Mid East or North Korea.

I wonder if there's any relation as well to the KH-11 fleet currently allegedly being understrength. According to speculation I've read they normally keep two in each relevant orbital plane, but at the moment they've only got three altogether on orbit (two on west and one on east). When they last replenished the fleet they only put one in each orbital plane.

This is the latest on the KH-11s.

https://sattrackcam.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/usa-186-recovered.html?m=1
« Last Edit: 05/01/2017 04:19 pm by Star One »

Offline Jim

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #602 on: 05/01/2017 04:21 pm »
A bit OT but I find it curious that the NRO appear to have launched a tactical reconnaissance satellite today.

I wouldn't say that

Offline Star One

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KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #603 on: 05/01/2017 04:23 pm »
A bit OT but I find it curious that the NRO appear to have launched a tactical reconnaissance satellite today.

I wouldn't say that

As posited above I suppose if they had a particular country (i.e. North Korea) they wanted to keep more of an eye on.

Just waiting for the threats to shoot it down....
« Last Edit: 05/01/2017 05:46 pm by Star One »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #604 on: 05/01/2017 05:52 pm »
A bit OT but I find it curious that the NRO appear to have launched a tactical reconnaissance satellite today.

I wouldn't say that

As posited above I suppose if they had a particular country (i.e. North Korea) they wanted to keep more of an eye on.

Just waiting for the threats to shoot it down....
A 51 degree orbit provides pretty good cover for most of the hot spots in the world today... The only major hotspot areas not well covered will be the Crimea and Eastern Europe.
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Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #605 on: 05/01/2017 06:36 pm »
A bit OT but I find it curious that the NRO appear to have launched a tactical reconnaissance satellite today.

I wouldn't say that

As posited above I suppose if they had a particular country (i.e. North Korea) they wanted to keep more of an eye on.

Just waiting for the threats to shoot it down....
A 51 degree orbit provides pretty good cover for most of the hot spots in the world today... The only major hotspot areas not well covered will be the Crimea and Eastern Europe.

Do you expect any further similar payloads to be launched or would you think this is a one off for now?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #606 on: 05/11/2017 09:48 pm »
Phil Pressel, who designed the KH-9 HEXAGON camera system, now has a blog:

https://www.hexagonkh9.com/blog/2017/4/3/what-was-hexagon-kh-9


Offline Kansan52

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #607 on: 05/11/2017 10:02 pm »
Great blog!

Offline Targeteer

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #608 on: 05/11/2017 10:13 pm »
Another great shot of a Hexagon launch.  Not sure if it's been previously released.

https://www.facebook.com/NationalReconnaissanceOffice/photos/a.1544403572457698.1073741828.1442712095960180/1977229739175077/?type=3&theater

On May 11, 1982, the National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched Hexagon 17, Mission #1217, from 30th Space Wing (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.), aboard a Titan III-D booster (pictured). Mission #1217 was the first Hexagon satellite to operate for over 200 days (208 total), surpassing the previous record of 161 days by more than 25%.

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

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #609 on: 05/14/2017 03:49 pm »
Phil Pressel, who designed the KH-9 HEXAGON camera system, now has a blog:

https://www.hexagonkh9.com/blog/2017/4/3/what-was-hexagon-kh-9

Thanks for the link. Already a fair bit of info on there and all nicely presented.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #610 on: 08/08/2017 10:10 pm »
This book is a printing of one of the NRO's declassified HEXAGON histories. I've lost track, but I think there are four declassified HEXAGON histories:

-The HEXAGON Story
-Perry's volume on HEXAGON (which only goes to 1973)
-the mapping camera history (which has some good material)
-this other one

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1521084874/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Normally I'm not a fan of people reprinting stuff that is already free and in the public domain (years ago somebody took a whole bunch of essays that I wrote for a government website and slapped their own name on them), but this actually appears to be a worthwhile effort. They re-typeset the original. I have not read it to see how good the optical reading of the original was (i.e. are there a lot of typos?), and I note that the title of one of their other publications, "Defense's Nuclear Agency," indicates that they're sloppy. But it is a decent printing job. The images in the book are all taken from the photocopy, so the quality is not great. That said, it is a decent print job, and if you would rather read this history from a book instead of a computer screen or a stack of copy paper, then this is what you should do. For $15, it's a good deal.

As for the history itself, my friend Phil Pressel (who was one of the key designers of the HEXAGON's camera system and has written a book about that) thinks that this is a very good history.

The publisher has a bunch of other NRO titles. You can download pdfs of them for free if you know where to find them.

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #611 on: 08/09/2017 08:15 am »
It also ships to the UK sometimes these self print books don't ship outside the US.

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #612 on: 01/15/2019 11:17 pm »
Quarterly (4Q18) NRO FOIA release is out http://www.nro.gov/Freedom-of-Information-Act-FOIA/Declassified-Records/Other-Public-Releases/FOIA-For-All-Releases/.

It includes documents on CORN, the “Controlled Range Network”, which was managed by Data Corporation (later Mead Technology Laboratories), in Dayton, OH. Purpose of CORN was to provide a “(…) capability to support development and evaluation of photographic, infrared and radar reconnaissance systems.”

The two main optical(?) calibration displays were tribar resolution targets and (at least one) circular/annular mensuration target (located near Dugway, UT, and visible at 40.106895, -112.985521 on google maps images). The tribar arrays were designed to probe ground resolution distances (GRD) from 16 feet down to 1.1 inch (Table A-1 in http://www.nro.gov/Portals/65/documents/foia/declass/ForAll/123118/F-2018-00002_C05106617.pdf ).

Unlike the CORONA calibration targets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona_Satellite_Calibration_Targets , tribar targets were mobile, and were only set-up temporarily, mostly in the south-west (e.g. near Tucson, ...). CORN was operational at least from the late 1960s to the early/mid 1980s. It was used for calibration of GAMBIT, HEXAGON, and a classified other program (KENNEN?). At some point in the late 1970s/early 1980s an upgrade for a “special CCD target” was studied.

One Hexagon tribar image (mission 1205, Op 313, F026, Forward camera) shows maybe the first twelve tribars resolved (image reproduction in the released document is quite poor), which would correspond to a GRD of around 34 inches (3 ft).
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 11:26 pm by hoku »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #613 on: 01/16/2019 12:41 am »
Apologies if this is the wrong place to post, but I think it is germane...

ISTR years ago, perhaps in the 80s, noticing a descending size tribar pattern, on some kind of pavement, near a corner of Wright Field at Wright-Patterson AFB--maybe it was the southwest corner.

I don't recall the circumstance--it could have been from the elevation of one of the roads that circumscribe WPAFB.  Or, it could have been from a Boy Scout hike on a path around and through the less-developed areas of WPAFB, like Huffman Prairie.  Or it could have been from the air on approach to Dayton International Airport.

Does anyone have an idea of what this was for?  I know that a lot of research was done and is done there.

I note the reference to CORN immediately up-thread.  Mead was also a Dayton company.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 12:48 am by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #614 on: 01/16/2019 12:52 am »
Apologies if this is the wrong place to post, but I think it is germane...

ISTR years ago, perhaps in the 80s, noticing a descending size tribar pattern, on some kind of pavement, near a corner of Wright Field at Wright-Patterson AFB--maybe it was the southwest corner.

Other airbases had them. They were usually for aircraft at the bases.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #615 on: 01/16/2019 12:53 am »
One Hexagon tribar image (mission 1205, Op 313, F026, Forward camera) shows maybe the first twelve tribars resolved (image reproduction in the released document is quite poor), which would correspond to a GRD of around 34 inches (3 ft).

NRO won't admit to better, but H did much better in some circumstances. You'd be shocked.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #616 on: 01/19/2019 05:04 am »
I am sorry but I posted this message to the old Hexagon post so I reposted to the current post.

The NRO has just released 100 new (a few are rereleased) documents related to the Hexagon program.  The link to the new documents are under the "What's New" link on the NRO web page.

I am looking forward to reviewing them in the next few days.

Oh damn, there goes my free time for the next week...

edit: well, Dwayne will enjoy these, lots of stuff about the war between USAF and CIA. Not much on the flight details that I'm more interested in, although doc 100 has the failure report for Hexagon 20, which also includes a mildly interesting program summary, with no new revelations


I beg to differ...

The planned mission was apparently going to be 540 days--300 primary and 240 solo (something is then blacked out) pages 31-32.  That would have been the longest mission by far--probably because of the earlier Titan 34D/KH-11 failure.  By solo I assume they mean with no RVs--what capability did the Hexagon have WITHOUT any RVs left? 


Doing some research way past my bedtime and came across this post.

I think I now know what that 240 solo day mission was.

Question: is there an illustration of the S3 (solid state sensor) camera system in any of the HEXAGON documents or histories? I vaguely remember seeing one, but it's not in either "The Hexagon Story" or the CIA history.


Note that NRO has moved around the document collections. You can find most of them here:

http://www.nro.gov/Freedom-of-Information-Act-FOIA/Declassified-Records/Special-Collections/

The second group of HEXAGON documents is here:

http://www.nro.gov/Freedom-of-Information-Act-FOIA/Declassified-Records/Special-Collections/HEXAGON-Records/



« Last Edit: 01/19/2019 06:04 pm by Blackstar »

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