Author Topic: KH-11 KENNEN  (Read 99953 times)

Offline gosnold

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #360 on: 02/28/2018 08:41 PM »
Dwayne Day has published an article on the early history of the Satellite Data System, based on a declassified NRO history:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3440/1

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #361 on: 03/01/2018 04:02 AM »
Dwayne Day has published an article on the early history of the Satellite Data System, based on a declassified NRO history:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3440/1
Another Dwayne Day article title, another Babylon 5 episode reference: Shadow Dancing8)
***

Mod/member question: I was searching for a distinct SDS/Quasar thread here in the NSF forum.  I found none, except the launch threads for those NRO payloads deduced to one of these.

Given SDS was created to support KENNEN, would it be best to continue to use this thread to discuss SDS?

Would a thread title edit to add SDS/Quasar be in order?
« Last Edit: 03/01/2018 04:03 AM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #362 on: 03/13/2018 10:34 PM »

Offline hoku

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #363 on: 03/15/2018 11:53 PM »
Thanks. Found the memo on VP Humphrey's visit to NPIC in July 1967 most interesting.

The federal budget "squeeze" ultimately leading to the cancellation of MOL under the Nixon administration was already looming, the rationale for a "manned" high-resolution reconnaissance platform was debatable (...astronaut... tasks in order of importance... fine-tuning the automatic systems, manually backing-up failed or malfunctioning automatic systems, increasing intelligence quantity or value (via alternate targets), and verifying system performance plus suitability for unmanned use), and the cost estimate for the (then still future) KH-9 system of "perhaps $25 million" per mission are telling by how much its complexity might have been underestimated.

http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/Archive/narp/2017/SC-2017-00008dd.pdf
« Last Edit: 03/15/2018 11:54 PM by hoku »

Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #364 on: 03/16/2018 07:40 AM »
There is also a short memo about LM&SS, the KH-7 to ride an Apollo CSM around the Moon. Reading that paper, one can literally feels how nervous was the NRO about the entire thing. Which isn't very surprising.

By the way, I wonder how many people at NASA were made aware of the KH-7 program for LM&SS. Who need to knew ?
Administrator Webb
Deputy administrator Seamans
Who else ? Office of space science, that is, Homer Newell ? His OSMF "rival" that would be George Mueller ?
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #365 on: 03/16/2018 01:07 PM »
Thanks. Found the memo on VP Humphrey's visit to NPIC in July 1967 most interesting.

The federal budget "squeeze" ultimately leading to the cancellation of MOL under the Nixon administration was already looming, the rationale for a "manned" high-resolution reconnaissance platform was debatable

That memo is very interesting/useful to me for several reasons. Back in the 1990s I did a bunch of interviews with various people associated with CORONA. One of the people I interviewed had worked at NPIC as a photo-interpreter and he told me about his work training MOL astronauts on photography. I've learned from interviewing lots of people that when they start talking about stuff that they're not supposed to be talking about (like the still classified MOL program) you don't get too interested, you just gently prod them along.

So this guy then tells me this story about how Vice President Humphrey visited NPIC (at the Washington, DC Navy Yard) for a MOL briefing. The Director of Central Intelligence was there too, along with a senior MOL official. Then the guy tells me an amusing story about that visit. You'll have to wait for a future article (articles?) where I relate the story. Anyway, he told me this maybe 20 years ago, but now, just a few days ago, I have confirmation: 1-that the visit happened, 2-the date, 3-the participants, 4-other things that happened at that meeting.

I have a big two-part article in the works on what exactly the astronauts would do aboard MOL. This new release helps out a bit.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #366 on: 03/16/2018 01:20 PM »
order of importance... fine-tuning the automatic systems, manually backing-up failed or malfunctioning automatic systems, increasing intelligence quantity or value (via alternate targets), and verifying system performance plus suitability for unmanned use[/I]), and the cost estimate for the (then still future) KH-9 system of "perhaps $25 million" per mission are telling by how much its complexity might have been underestimated.

There are documents that indicate that the MOL program leadership constantly felt pressure to justify having astronauts onboard. MOL was approved in August 1965 and only a few months later (November?) they had added an unmanned version. As soon as they did that, people started asking "if you can fly it unmanned, why fly it manned?" So they had to first figure out, and then explain, why people would do the job better than a robotic system. They thought they could do that in 1966. But even by early 1966 they saw some of the justifications that they used in summer 1965 start to erode. And by 1967 even more of those justifications were eroding. MOL was becoming more and more of a niche system, serving an intelligence role that was getting smaller all the time.

And then there's the issue of the KH-9 HEXAGON. It's hard to appreciate just how powerful and important the HEXAGON was. The resolution was not the best possible (although it was much better than the publicly available figures). But it could also cover vast amounts of territory each time it flew over the Soviet Union. That had some incredible value for things like arms control treaties. For example, the common refrain from people opposed to arms control treaties was "the Soviets could be cheating, and while we photograph one part of their territory, their equipment might be in another part." People apparently argued that if an airbase only had 10 bombers, it was possible that another 90 bombers were at an airbase 100 miles away and we didn't see them. And then when we photographed that other airbase, those 90 bombers had flown to the first base. But HEXAGON would fly over and photograph both bases simultaneously, and there was very little opportunity for the Soviets to hide their activities, and very little opportunity for arms control opponents to argue that the weapons were being missed. HEXAGON was all-seeing, all-knowing.

So by 1969 the United States military was mired in the muck of the Vietnam War, and the military and intelligence communities were building both the MOL-DORIAN and HEXAGON. The latter two were expensive projects. But MOL had this very limited utility that was shrinking all the time, and HEXAGON, if it worked, appeared to be a powerful intelligence asset. Nixon canceled HEXAGON, but the Director of Central Intelligence convinced him it was a valuable program and he reversed the decision, and then Nixon canceled MOL.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #367 on: 03/16/2018 01:28 PM »
There is also a short memo about LM&SS, the KH-7 to ride an Apollo CSM around the Moon. Reading that paper, one can literally feels how nervous was the NRO about the entire thing. Which isn't very surprising.

By the way, I wonder how many people at NASA were made aware of the KH-7 program for LM&SS. Who need to knew ?
Administrator Webb
Deputy administrator Seamans
Who else ? Office of space science, that is, Homer Newell ? His OSMF "rival" that would be George Mueller ?

For a number of years now I have wanted to write a detailed history of UPWARD/LMSS. I've taken a lot of notes and gone through them. Now I just need to write it. I've done something about that awhile ago:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1737/1

Going through all the UPWARD/LMSS documents (and there are more at NASA HQ than what the NRO released), you get a real feeling for what was going on. The NRO people wanted to help NASA, and they were willing to share their classified technology. But they were wary. And as you read through the documents chronologically, you can see why they were wary: NASA just kept wanting more and more. UPWARD started out as this limited program, an insurance policy in case Lunar Orbiter did not work. NRO was okay with that. Then NASA was talking about "testing" UPWARD in Earth orbit, and NRO was a bit surprised and worried about that. Then NASA started talking about leaving the UPWARD system in Earth orbit for awhile, so not a short term test, but the thing would be flying around for many months, mostly unoccupied. NRO did not like that. Then NASA started talking about operating UPWARD for Earth observations and NRO really started getting worried.

There were related projects too (for instance, PERCHERON), and this is all tied up with the issues of Earth observation, space-based astronomy, and the sharing of classified technology. NASA wanted to do higher-res Earth observation and NRO's response was that this was an NRO responsibility and NASA should stay out of it. And NRO had some impressive technology, even the obsolete stuff, and they were wary that once NASA had it, people would find out.

So there's a whole bigger story here besides UPWARD/LMSS and it involves how NRO interacted with the white world and with a major actor like NASA, whose budget and prestige were quite big in the mid-latter 1960s.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #368 on: 03/16/2018 04:22 PM »
Research/life lesson: :)
I've learned from interviewing lots of people that when they start talking about stuff that they're not supposed to be talking about (like the still classified MOL program) you don't get too interested, you just gently prod them along.
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Offline Archibald

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #369 on: 05/25/2018 05:32 PM »
Quote from: Blackstar link=topic=29545.msg1196568#msg1196568 date=
[/quote

There may be some truth to it.

Way back in the mid-1980s or so I remember reading an article that ran in a scientific publication. May have been Scientific American, and I could/should go search on Lexis to see if I can find it.

What I distinctly remember was that the reporter visited Perkin-Elmer, which built the Hubble mirror. The article was written either before they had built the mirror, or as they were in the process of making it (you'll remember that they screwed it up). The manager said something along the lines that the contract had enabled them to build a facility where they could construct larger mirrors and this (paraphrasing, but I don't think by much) "would make them competitive for other projects." He was enthusiastic about that.

At the time I filed that away in my brain because it told me that P-E was NOT ALREADY making Hubble-size mirrors, and that meant that whoever was making the big mirrors for the KH-11 was not P-E (whose mirrors for the KH-9 were smaller). It was obviously Kodak.

I really need to find that article.
The Hubble contract actually goes back to the 70ties. Please find photo of the PE mirror in process in the enclosed photo dated 1979.
I believe PE, EK and ITEK all produced 2.4 meters for the "customer" in the 70ties. EK produced the Hubble spare which is in the Smithsonian. A 2.4 that ITEK built in the 70ties has become the PM for the Magdalena Ridge observatory.

(scratching my head)

https://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/28/us/losing-bid-offered-2-tests-on-hubble.html

Quote
In its proposal, Kodak said the two mirrors and the different testing systems of the two companies could be used to verify accuracy. One of the two primary mirrors would then be used in the Hubble Space Telescope.

https://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/18/us/hubble-has-backup-mirror-unused.html

So I'm completely confused !

Hubble mirror contract went to Perkin Elmer

Kodak (teamed with Itek) was the loser. They planned to build two mirrors and test them separately. since they lose, nothing was build.

Then NASA got some doubts and requested P.E to ask Kodak to make another mirror.

And then, out of the blue, an Itek 2.4 m mirror went to that Magadalena observatory.

So I suppose that, when NASA asked them to build a backup to P.E mirror, Kodak once again teamed with Itek, and they applied their initial plan - two mirrors at two different places ?

That would explain the Magdalena and the Smithsonian mirrors.

Or maybe I'm totally wrong, and adding more confusion to the entire thing.

« Last Edit: 05/25/2018 05:36 PM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #370 on: 05/25/2018 10:37 PM »
I've been interviewing a friend of mine who was in charge of NASA astrophysics in the early 1980s. He talked about Hubble, although not about this specific issue. One amusing thing was that although Hubble was a big project and caused a lot of headaches, he was less interested in it than several other projects then underway.

He did have some interesting stories to tell about the politics of Hubble, as well as the management. For instance, at one point they were going to have something like a $150 million overrun. So the suits above him go over to Congress and come back with $400 million. He was annoyed. He thought that this was padding the program, asking for money that they did not need. But somebody told him that this way they had enough money for the current overrun, and the next one as well. He said that they were probably good for another year or so before they would need more money. Turns out the guy was right. My friend said that when the guy told him this, he started his own personal countdown clock to leave his job before the next big problem occurred.

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #371 on: 06/20/2018 09:00 PM »
Iíll put this Tweet from Stephen Trimble here as itís as good as any NRO related thread.

Quote
I filed a FOIA request with the NRO on June 9. I just got their reply, dated June 12. It says the NRO "located no records" related to my request. I'm all for fast and responsive government service, but that's a suspiciously efficient turn-around.

https://mobile.twitter.com/FG_STrim/status/1009185331193745408

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #372 on: 06/20/2018 09:04 PM »
It's possible that his FOIA request was identical to one that they had already received, searched for, and replied to. And if he was asking about space aliens, well, he's gonna get a standard reply. Still, I'd be suspicious.

Offline WallE

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #373 on: 06/20/2018 09:20 PM »
Early HEXAGON satellite vehicles carried 208,000 feet of film while the later satellite vehicles carried 310,000 feet of film equally divided between the two cameras.  The 60 miles of film number is a rounded up approximation of the actual value of 58.7 miles.

My god, the clean-up job from the last KH-9 must have been tremendous. All that film as I understand was just everywhere, all over SLC-4E. Thousands and thousands of pieces of torn film every last one of which had to be picked up and disposed of, along with the whole area being showered with toxic propellant.

No wonder some people in the blockhouse actually broke down and cried.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #374 on: 06/20/2018 11:05 PM »
It's possible that his FOIA request was identical to one that they had already received, searched for, and replied to. And if he was asking about space aliens, well, he's gonna get a standard reply. Still, I'd be suspicious.

What has he asked for, past and possibly present?
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #375 on: Today at 12:11 AM »
It's possible that his FOIA request was identical to one that they had already received, searched for, and replied to. And if he was asking about space aliens, well, he's gonna get a standard reply. Still, I'd be suspicious.

What has he asked for, past and possibly present?

I don't know.

Offline Star One

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #376 on: Today at 08:17 AM »
It's possible that his FOIA request was identical to one that they had already received, searched for, and replied to. And if he was asking about space aliens, well, he's gonna get a standard reply. Still, I'd be suspicious.

What has he asked for, past and possibly present?

Does what youíve asked for the past impact their responses to you?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: KH-11 KENNEN
« Reply #377 on: Today at 10:37 AM »
It's possible that his FOIA request was identical to one that they had already received, searched for, and replied to. And if he was asking about space aliens, well, he's gonna get a standard reply. Still, I'd be suspicious.

What has he asked for, past and possibly present?

Does what youíve asked for the past impact their responses to you?

You are misunderstanding me.

-Person A asks for document X.

-NRO searches for document X, does not find it, tells Person A that they cannot find it.

-Person B asks for document X.

-NRO knows that they cannot find document X, so they immediately respond to Person B saying that it does not exist.

Nothing terribly mysterious about that.

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