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  Declassified: GAMBIT and HEXAGON satellites

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Author Topic:   Declassified: GAMBIT and HEXAGON satellites
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-17-2011 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today (Sept. 17), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) publicly declassified the GAMBIT (KH-7/8) and HEXAGON (KH-9) surveillance systems (spy satellites).

As part of that activity, a HEXAGON satellite was exhibited at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center (see this thread for more of that exhibit).

GAMBIT and HEXAGON Programs

Declassification of GAMBIT and HEXAGON was publicly announced on September 17, 2011. Two GAMBIT systems were developed for surveillance of specific targets. GAMBIT 1 initially launched in 1963 and was equipped with the KH-7 camera systems. GAMBIT 3 followed in 1966 and was equipped with the KH-8 camera system. The HEXAGON system was launched in 1971 and was developed for wide-area searches of denied territory. Together these satellites became America's eyes in space.

hlbjr
Member

Posts: 321
From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 12-20-2011 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received an email from the National Air and Space Museum this morning and one of the linked stories was this piece written by Lockheed retiree Art Jesensky about the loss of the last Hexagon on a Titan back in 1986. He was in the launch control center only 500 yards from the pad. It's a good read.

hlbjr
Member

Posts: 321
From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 12-25-2011 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another Hexagon story highlighting the Perkin-Elmer folks in Connecticut. Pretty cool how many people didn't know this important project was going on under their noses.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 12-25-2011 11:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting story indeed. I've always had an interest in satellites like these since my dad kind of worked in that black world for the Army Security Agency (although his main thing was signal gathering from the ground or the air as opposed to space imagery). Plus, my research into MOL and Almaz had me doing a bit of study on the earlier KH systems from the NRO. As such, it felt almost like a bolt from the blue timing-wise as while I was working on the MOL chapter for my space stations book, Hexagon got de-classified.

I hope it won't be too many more years before we hear more about KH-10 "Dorian" (the system intended for the MOL) and the KH-11. Although I imagine in the KH-11's case, it will likely remain classified for many more years as I believe a variation of it is still being used to this day. It sounds to me though like KH-9 was the wide angle shooter while KH-11 was capable of focusing in tight on a target of interest.

All times are CT (US)

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