Author Topic: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite  (Read 218734 times)

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #620 on: 02/10/2019 07:53 pm »
I’ve included this article for sake of completeness as it talks about how this kind of imagery fitted in with that provided by aircraft and satellites.

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High-resolution photoreconnaissance satellites became operational several years later.  GAMBIT-1, launched 38 times from 1963-1967, eventually achieved a best resolution of two feet.  The follow-on GAMBIT-3 flew 54 missions from 1966-1984.  Its maximum resolution remains classified, except for the fact that it was initially greater than two feet and apparently improved to better than one foot. HEXAGON, which flew 19 missions from 1971-1984, had a best resolution of two feet.[5]  The resolution obtained by KENNEN, the first digital return system initially launched in 1976, remains classified.   

Although the high-resolution imagery from the U-2 and satellites satisfied many technical intelligence requirements, it rarely captured certain critical targets. These included intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and shorter-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.  Even before their deployment in silos beginning in the mid-1960s, these vehicles were stored in buildings at their launch complexes.  Submarines carried their ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in tubes and their cruise missiles in protective housings.  Silos housed anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs).  The U-2 and, later, satellites, frequently photographed aircraft on runways and aprons.  However, they could not capture the underside, engine inlets, and certain other important features.  Similarly, these overhead platforms were limited in some respects in photographing armor, artillery, mobile radars, and other ground force equipment.

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/intelligence-russia-programs/2018-12-17/communist-parades-intelligence-target-cold-war

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #621 on: 02/18/2019 07:05 pm »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3662/1

Above Top Secret: the last flight of the Big Bird

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, February 18, 2019

By the early 1980s, the HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite program was scheduled to end. Only a few more of the heavy, schoolbus-sized spacecraft were under construction. Efforts by senior Air Force officials within the Los Angeles office of the highly classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to either build more spacecraft, or use the Space Shuttle to recover and relaunch one or more of the last satellites, had been rejected as impractical or too expensive. The NRO leadership in Washington instead chose to stretch out the remaining launches, keeping the satellites in orbit longer and taking more images. The HEXAGON had a powerful dual camera system also known as the KH-9 and capable of imaging almost the entire Soviet landmass in a single mission. Because of that, the 20th and last HEXAGON spacecraft, scheduled for launch in spring 1986, became very important to many members of the intelligence community.

But what has not been known until now is that the last HEXAGON spacecraft acquired an additional top secret sensor and intelligence mission in addition to its primary job of taking medium resolution photography of vast amounts of territory. The spacecraft was also supposed to fly twice as long as any previous HEXAGON mission. On April 26, 1986, the last HEXAGON spacecraft—which was euphemistically referred to as “the big bird” by launch crews—lifted off atop a Titan 34D at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

And then the rocket blew up.





Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #622 on: 02/18/2019 10:19 pm »
Excellent and informative article. Thanks.

I see KENNEN gets plenty of mentions but I suppose the declassification of the early days of that program is still somewhere in the government labyrinth.

Offline gwiz

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #623 on: 02/19/2019 10:35 am »
Can't remember my source (Blackstar?), but I've a note that there were a couple more classified payloads on Hexagon 20 called Onyx and LORRI 2.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2019 10:36 am by gwiz »

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #624 on: 02/19/2019 03:16 pm »
Can't remember my source (Blackstar?), but I've a note that there were a couple more classified payloads on Hexagon 20 called Onyx and LORRI 2.

Do you mean attached payloads or sub-satellites?

Offline gwiz

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Re: KH-9 HEXAGON Reconnaissance Satellite
« Reply #625 on: 02/19/2019 04:35 pm »
No information on that.

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