KH-9 HEXAGON - a huge Cold War spy satellite

This spy satellite HEXAGON for over ten years has been observing America’s likely adversaries during the Cold War, dropping very high-quality photographs taken from space to Earth. The length of this satellite is about 18 meters, and it is longer than a regular bus. For a very long time, only very few people saw these satellites live. And now, after the US government has declassified the data of this spyware program, anyone can see this satellite.


KH-9 HEXAGON - a huge Cold War spy satellite

During the period from 1971 to 1986, the US Department of Intelligence launched the launch of XEXUMX satellites HEXAGON. The first of these satellites was launched into orbit by the Titan III carrier rocket. The main "eye" of the satellite HEXAGON was a huge camera with a focal length 20 centimeters. This camera took pictures on the photographic plate, the size of 195 centimeters. On each such plate from the height of space an image was placed, about 15 in size. The high quality of the photographic material used and the optics of the camera made it possible to look at the details of the size of half a meter on the pictures taken.


In those days, there was still no reliable means of fast data transmission over radio frequency channels, and the satellite camera was an ordinary camera, not a digital camera. Therefore, a rather original method was used to deliver satellite images to the Earth. After the satellite camera took a series of shots, the taken photographic plates were automatically immersed in a container protected from external influences, which was then dropped to the ground. In total, the satellite had four containers, so its work resource was very short, which explains the large number of such satellites launched into space.


Naturally, before dropping the container with the images to the Earth, a reconnaissance plane was lifted from the ground, equipped with a special device that patrolled at a high altitude near the point of entry of the container into the atmosphere. After the radar of the aircraft detected the falling container, the aircraft approached the calculated point and caught this container as if caught with a butterfly net. I wonder what happened if the pilot of the plane slightly missed?
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  1. ramin_serg 26 October 2013 10: 10 New
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    I must admit that in terms of the number and quality of satellites, Americans have gone far ahead
    1. Turik
      Turik 27 October 2013 10: 17 New
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      Expensive, but not very reliable.
  2. datur 26 October 2013 10: 10 New
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    After the aircraft radar detected a falling container, the aircraft approached the calculated point and caught this container as they catch a butterfly net. I wonder what happened if the pilot missed the plane a bit? --- then the jolly then came !! probably all the CIA personnel were looking for this container !!!!! wink laughing
    1. Ascetic 26 October 2013 13: 06 New
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      Quote: datur
      After the aircraft radar detected a falling container, the aircraft approached the calculated point and caught this container as they catch a butterfly net. I wonder what happened if the pilot missed the plane a bit? --- then the jolly then came !! probably all the CIA personnel were looking for this container !!!!!


      The Americans were not laughing, Until 1972, all the keyhole photo-reconnaissance satellites (literally keyhole) were equipped with drop-down capsules for photographic film, i.e. the capsule descended by parachute in a given area of ​​the Pacific Ocean .. In 1972. The project, which was called the Crown with a series of Kihouls, was stopped due to the discovery of a Soviet submarine waiting in the area for splashing capsules with photographic film in the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, in the following Kihouls, and in particular in KN-9, the scheme of "catching butterflies from an airplane" was implemented. The captured film for processing and analysis from the satellite was sent back to Earth in returning capsules by parachute to the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 military aircraft caught them using a special trawl. In the picture below, such a trawl.
      In my time of service in the Strategic Missile Forces, the data from KN-11, which replaced Hexagon and monitored the PGRK position areas, were already transmitted through the Satellite Data System owned by the US armed forces, which greatly accelerated the identification of our complexes by American analysts, unless of course they came to the camera during his flight. Of course, the time of their flight was known and taken into account, and all position changes were usually carried out at night and must be agreed with the military counterintelligence agencies.

      Trapping the descent capsule Discoverer 14 special aircraft C-119 "Flying Boxer".
      1. ivanovbg 26 October 2013 18: 08 New
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        Just imagine - somewhere in the sky-high heights of the stratosphere, American planes catch the descent capsules of their top-secret reconnaissance satellites. And Soviet submarines spin under them and look with hope at the anti-aircraft periscopes - all of a sudden something will fall over to them too.



        And you say - not funny :) I laugh, I can not :)
        1. Ascetic 26 October 2013 21: 48 New
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          Quote: ivanovbg
          Just imagine - somewhere in the sky-high heights of the stratosphere, American planes catch the descent capsules of their top-secret reconnaissance satellites. And Soviet submarines spin under them and look with hope at the anti-aircraft periscopes - all of a sudden something will fall over to them too.


          Well, firstly, not in the stratosphere, and secondly Americans are not funny
          Quote: Ascetic
          The Americans weren’t laughing,

          Read carefully. Well, on the submarine, they were probably having fun reining in from the depths of the ocean for this process. Probably they even made a bet to catch or not to catch, well, and the swimmers were ready for them, too, probably there was no laughing matter.
  3. pensioner 26 October 2013 10: 27 New
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    I wonder what happened if the plane pilot missed a little bit?

    Nothing special. Just a container fell a little on the Earth ... repeat
    1. smirnov 27 October 2013 19: 02 New
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      Probably more correct in the ground laughing
  4. StolzSS
    StolzSS 26 October 2013 11: 05 New
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    After the aircraft radar detected a falling container, the aircraft approached the calculated point and caught this container as they catch a butterfly net. I wonder what happened if the plane pilot missed a little bit?

    Yes, no, just the whole staff, starting with the pilot, got a good portion of bananas in the anus wassat

    Well, as a result, we now see bananas in the anus, the main educational event in the USA, it is now everywhere laughing Human progress you know gee gee bully
    1. AX
      AX 26 October 2013 13: 15 New
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      And like a "banana" in the ass, they have a detailed map of the USSR ....
  5. Know-nothing 26 October 2013 11: 23 New
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    Therefore, for the delivery of satellite images to Earth, a rather original method was used. After the satellite camera took a series of images, the photographic plates taken were automatically immersed in a container protected from external influences, which was then dropped to the ground.

    What is original in it? Russia still uses ("Cobalt-M"), in 2013 DOES NOT HAVE ANALOGUES IN THE WORLD, you can be proud.
    1. roial
      roial 26 October 2013 14: 00 New
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      Russia still uses ("Cobalt-M"), in 2013 DOES NOT HAVE ANALOGUES IN THE WORLD, you can be proud.


      Are you seriously???

      The captured images are delivered to the Earth in special capsules, which after landing will be delivered for processing to the Space Intelligence Center. About a month passes between photography and capsule descent, which significantly reduces the value of the images.
      The term of active existence is up to 120 days.

      The last launch was a YEAR ago.
      1. Know-nothing 26 October 2013 16: 18 New
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        Yes, they will probably launch next year.
        1. roial
          roial 26 October 2013 17: 08 New
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          images are delivered to Earth in special capsules


          About a month passes between taking a picture and launching a capsule,


          DOES NOT HAVE ANALOGUES IN THE WORLD - JOKE ????
          1. Know-nothing 26 October 2013 22: 06 New
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            Even China does not use film and capsules. You can read http://www.gazeta.ru/science/2013/02/27_a_4990217.shtml for example.
  6. ivanovbg 26 October 2013 11: 53 New
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    What a fantastic cost of the most highly skilled work, and even in secret mode and expensive materials, because the carrier is disposable, and the satellite itself is four-time, just for four series of pictures.
  7. makarov
    makarov 26 October 2013 12: 39 New
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    "..I wonder what happened if the pilot of the plane missed a little? .."
    A member of the crew jumped after the capsule, and held it in his teeth until landing on the ground. After which he turned his head for a long time (examining the space) and, gritting his teeth, said: “Yes-ah-a, there was a noble landing.” The epilogue was the awarding of the congressional medal to the ubiquitous space jumper.
  8. Freelancer7 26 October 2013 18: 51 New
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    Good optics - interesting, but didn’t try to “refuel” (with containers)?
  9. Kowalsky
    Kowalsky 26 October 2013 23: 18 New
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    To be honest, the "technological" delivery process is amazing. Yes, and in the eighties, the shuttles flew with might and main. They certainly were more effective than these satellites. True, it’s more expensive at times, but information was also collected many times more. Perhaps the appointment of the Hexagons is not only and not so much reconnaissance? What prevented in the same way from dropping miniature nuclear charges (without parachutes already) or just rockets? No matter how powerful the charge. Unlike ICBMs, launching nuclear weapons would be impossible to detect. This means that there is no suspicion about the outbreak of war until it explodes over a dozen critical goals (such as Moscow and Leningrad). And, most importantly, such weapons do not fall under the limitations of the laws on the demilitarization of space. Try to prove that at some point the Hexagon took off with a bomb instead of a film.
  10. nod739 26 October 2013 23: 38 New
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    Quote: Dunno
    What is original in it? Russia still uses (Cobalt-M),

    as a person a little versed in photographic equipment .. matrices only just caught up in detail with amateur films, 60 mm amateur film is several times better in detailing ordinary 35 mm,
    In 80m or in 81m, if I’m not mistaken, a series of photos from outer space was published in TM - a general view of the continent, a city, a city in a park, a lawn in a park, a man on a lawn, his hand, a clock on his hand - you can see time on the edge of clarity on the dial !!!. (of course, under ideal conditions, the atmosphere is removed, and processed by Photoshop at that time - retouched)
    optics are now better than 30 years ago, of course you can make a matrix of super kooker, but it will cost three times more than the satellite itself
    I think such archaisms are used just where ultra-high detail is needed, and a 15-cm plate is worth a penny, unlike a matrix that can (and can?) give the same detail, and the Cobalt-M satellite just gives 30 cm, or maybe less- who will advertise it? this is a fresh satellite - first launch in 2004

    though there is such an opinion:
    to achieve a detail of less than 20-30 cm is almost not realistic, and not because the aberration, flare, etc. in optics do not correspond to the task, but because the jitter of unevenly heated air almost does not allow to achieve a higher result
  11. nod739 26 October 2013 23: 58 New
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    By the way, our PERSON satellite, which has a matrix and a radio channel for transmission, costs almost 10 times more expensive than Cobalt-M, although the term of its operation is several years against 3 months with cobalt
  12. ImPerts 27 October 2013 17: 08 New
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    On a specialized site dedicated to astronautics, there was a conversation about 15 cm maximum. And this is under ideal conditions. That's when they learn to disperse clouds from space, then 15-20 cm will be the standard. But this is the future and at the same time no one bothers to set smoke screens, and in large areas. Or shine from the ground. Our Sary-Shagan shuttle managed to highlight.
  13. studentmati 27 October 2013 22: 26 New
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    Like it or not, at that moment we are again in a column of catching up.
  14. Asan Ata
    Asan Ata 27 October 2013 23: 25 New
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    To come up with this - everyone would take for a fool, but no, it works and flies.
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