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Author Topic:   Spies in the Sky
cspg
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posted 02-27-2007 12:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stumbled across this upcoming book:

Spies in the Sky: Surveillance Satellites in War and Peace
Series: Springer Praxis Books
Subseries: Space Exploration
Norris, Pat
Jointly published with Praxis Publishing, UK
2007, Approx. 220 p., 30 illus., 10 in colour, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-387-71672-5

In 'Spies in the Sky' Patrick Norris responds to the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age -- the launch of Sputnik 1 -- with a review of the most important historical applications of space science for the benefit of the human race during that half century, focusing particularly on the prevention of nuclear war. The author addresses the oft quoted conclusion that the Moon landings and the race to the Moon between the two superpowers were a side effect of the Cold War, by describing what he believes was the more important event -- the use of satellites by military to prevent the Cold War becoming a 'hot war'. In developing the story the author casts a spotlight on a little-known aspect of the Space Age, namely the military dimension. Today military satellites represent 25 percent of all satellites in orbit, and they are just as important now in preventing regional nuclear war as they were in preventing global Armageddon more than 30 years ago.

Beginning with a discussion of Sputnik 1, and the impact of its launch, both on the Soviets and on the West, the book continues to show the social, economic and scientific benefits of satellites today in our daily lives some 50 years later. The author introduces the concept of the Cold War nuclear stand off and mutually assured destruction and shows how spy satellites developed, and the problems of using them to verify arms limitation treaties. He identifies the significance of the ABM Treaty and of SALT and demonstrates how satellites were used to underpin such agreements. He then discusses fringe nuclear powers, such as the UK, France and China and the concept of nuclear non-proliferation. He concludes by looking at the regional tensions of today, including Israel and Arabic nations, India and Pakistan and the threat posed by North Korea, and looks ahead to what the future holds.

Chris.

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-27-2007 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've never heard of this guy. That's a little odd considering that the number of people who write about satellite reconnaissance can be counted on one hand, with a couple of fingers missing...

cspg
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posted 02-27-2007 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dwayne,

I knew you would be interested!

Chris.

art540
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posted 02-27-2007 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope he has new information and plenty of images. Speaking of images Peter Hunter has a DVD of "Thor" and it includes many photos of Thor-Agena A/B in the horizontal mode with stage mating and other activities for the Discoverer/Corona program.

Art

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-27-2007 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One possibility is that this is a Ph.D. dissertation. Certainly the subject deserves more attention than it has received. Very little work has been done on how satellite imagery played a role in the Cold War. So I hope he does a good job.

However, I would have expected that a new person doing work in this field would have shown up on the radar screens of the people who have been working in it for years.

art540
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posted 02-27-2007 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there any timetable yet on declassification of KH-7 and KH-8?

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-27-2007 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nope. I don't expect it to happen anytime soon (i.e. the next 2 years at least). My suspicion is that when we get a new president, perhaps within a year that president might change the declassification rules, and then perhaps a year later we might see a declassification. That's all best guess assuming a best-case scenario, so figure 2010 at the earliest.

You won't find anything new on the KH-7/8 or 9 in this person's book, because if they did have that information, I would have heard about it, and I haven't. (I happen to have a fair amount of info on the 7, 8 and 9 that I have not published yet, but it is still pretty sketchy.)

But this book is less about technology and programs and apparently more focused on how the information was used in things like arms control. There's a lot of information available on that, although I don't know if the writer has tapped the relevant material.

art540
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posted 02-27-2007 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Dwayne. My interest is in the technical realm similar to your previous articles. I would like to see more on the hardware including the launch vehicles and facilities and of course the satellites and imaging systems along with the new "orbital control module".

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-27-2007 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not sure what you mean by the "orbital control module." Do you mean the system developed by General Electric for the KH-7? I think that was actually the Orbital Control System, or OCS. I have some information on that. Poor GE was in trouble virtually from the start on that one. Because the NRO did not totally trust that new system, they required that the Agena be left attached for several of the early KH-7 missions. After the mission was over, the Agena was dumped and then the OCS was put through its paces.

Of course, it doesn't take a genius to see that if the Agena can do the job from the start, then the OCS is not really needed at all. When they went for the KH-8 update, Lockheed bid the Agena and GE bid their OCS. By using the Agena, you could actually add more payload (like control gas) to the spacecraft and get more lifetime out of it. The Agena won easily. (There was, however, a reason for using GE and its OCS in the beginning. That was because way too much work was being given to Lockheed and the NRO rightfully wanted to encourage other firms to become involved in spysat development. The problem was that Lockheed had acquired all the expertise.)

As for the launch sites, I don't have much in particular about the specific sites used for recon launches at VAFB. However, I have been to VAFB numerous times and been out to old launch sites. In December I visited the Blue Scout Junior site and an old Atlas ABRES site used for the AMROC test.

Camera systems? I've got some info on the KH-7, but less on the KH-8. The KH-9 remains pretty murky. I do know the camera designer and the camera program manager, but they cannot talk about the system. They do say that it was incredibly complex, however.

I don't focus on the launch vehicles all that much. I have some info about the development of the Titan III used for the KH-9, but not a lot. Primarily I have info indicating when it was first considered for a much larger satellite (what became the KH-9). I have not seen much info on the Titan III Agena D. The launch vehicle information may exist somewhere, but I have not seen it, nor have I gone looking for it.

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-27-2007 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I should also add that most of what I have is programmatic information, not technical. In other words, I have documents explaining when certain decisions were made and why they were made. I could write a detailed history of the decision to build a replacement for the Corona, for instance (the system that became the KH-9). However, I don't have the kind of information that would allow me to describe how these systems worked in any great detail.

art540
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posted 02-28-2007 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Dwayne, for the time and energy to answer my post. I did mean the OCS for KH-7; I suspect one Agena downside was its large size and hence drag for the low perigee orbits.

I will be happy to read and learn from anything you publish - anything I want from my wish list beyond that I will have to search for myself.

Art LeBrun

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-28-2007 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I doubt that the Agena and drag was really an issue. After all, the Agena provided a method of reboosting the orbit. For the Corona mission they had Drag Makeup Units or DMUs, which were small solid rockets mounted around the circumference of the tail end. I think I included these in an article once.

An interesting question for the KH-7/8 is the inclusion of the Secondary Propulsion System or SPS. From memory, this was a small liquid fueled rocket system consisting of two rockets on either side of the rear of the Agena. One thing I tried to determine was if this was first developed for the GATV target vehicle or for the KH-7. Or if they developed separate systems. I might have the answer in my notes, but cannot remember it. My suspicion is that it was developed for the GATV and then adapted. However, the Agena also had a restart capability.

Before I get off the subject, however, it is worth noting that the Agena provided something very useful for the recce birds: mass. It was harder for a vibrating camera to move all that mass around. So a bigger vehicle in place of the OCS had some distinct advantages.

The history of the Agena has not been told. I have a lot of data on its early years, up to around 1964 or 1965. Hundreds of documents from the program office. After that I have much less. Key questions:

-development of the KH-8 Agena version
-development of the Ascent Agena
-development of the geosynch Agena
-dramatic increases in lifetime (how?)
-the Agena E version (apparently only a paper study, but how serious?)
-development of the shuttle version and the multi-tank version

I've got some information on the last issue, but not a lot. All of this gets tied up with the fact that Agena was used for a lot of reconsat programs in the latter 1960s and into the 1980s and those have not been declassified.

Dwayne Day
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posted 02-28-2007 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
I will be happy to read and learn from anything you publish - anything I want from my wish list beyond that I will have to search for myself.
I currently have -- no fooling -- about a dozen or more draft articles that I need to finish and publish in Spaceflight. The next ones up are on Blue Gemini and the Gemini Paraglider. But the ones that might interest you are on the post-Corona recon systems. This includes a four-part history of these systems:

-the Samos E-6
-alternative recon systems
-KH-7
-KH-8

What has really been holding me up on this series is that I don't have good photos to accompany the first article, which is largely a policy history of the decision to build other reconsats after Corona. I need to acquire a lot of photos of Eisenhower administration officials to accompany the article.

Other things in the works:

-a history of the KH-6
-more articles on the early DMSP program
-an article on intel monitoring of the Soviet manned lunar program (I have some good info on this, but need to acquire more photos)

Several of these have been sitting on my hard drive for years and I just need to get them done...

art540
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posted 02-28-2007 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you again, Dwayne, for the insights into your efforts. I only wish I had enough information to do some articles myself but I will have to content myself in reading your articles as they come along.

Have you seen the Agena article from BIS Space Chronicles? I ordered it but never got it...

I have only a Lockheed booklet on Agena circa 1965 with some SPS iamges and details of early solar panels. I have a prized photo of the solar panels on the Agena A used to launch Midas II.

For such a well used upper stage the missing Agena history is disappointing for all of us who enjoy the histories.

Art

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-01-2007 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
I only wish I had enough information to do some articles myself but I will have to content myself in reading your articles as they come along.

What subjects are you interested in?

Tell me what you want to write about. If I have the documents, I'll send them to you and you can write an article. My list of projects and articles is so long that I will have to clone myself to finish them. I have no problem sharing my research material with someone who wants to put it to good use.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-01-2007 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
Have you seen the Agena article from BIS Space Chronicles? I ordered it but never got it...

I have only a Lockheed booklet on Agena circa 1965 with some SPS iamges and details of early solar panels. I have a prized photo of the solar panels on the Agena A used to launch Midas II.

For such a well used upper stage the missing Agena history is disappointing for all of us who enjoy the histories.


I edited that issue of Space Chronicle. I was the person who encouraged the author to write that article in the first place.

There are some simple descriptions of the SPS around, but I have not seen a detailed discussion anywhere. I imagine that it is discussed in the official KH-7 histories, but those remain classified.

I have an illustration somewhere showing a large solar panel carried aboard a late Corona mission. My suspicion is that this was a test for equipment later used on the KH-8.

Yes, there should be an Agena history. Years ago, before NASA published the Centaur history, I encouraged the Air Force to commission a monograph on the Agena. My pitch was that they should get this out before NASA's Centaur book and demonstrate that the USAF was there first with a highly successful upper stage. Naturally, I wanted to write that monograph... They had no interest in it.

art540
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posted 03-01-2007 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dwayne: thank you very much for the kind offer of material if you have it for my topics. With your permission I will get with you offsite and and let you know. I have some images but very little data except what is in the mainstream media.

I understand the lack of USAF interest in Agena; when I visited SLC-3E for the AC-141 rollback I saw no evidence of the rich history at the dual sites that had launched Samos, Midas and Corona from PALC 1-1 and 1-2. The forlorn gantry at SLC-3W was just a year away from demolition.

Dedicated people such as yourself are badly needed to reveal the histories; apparently very few writers among all the participants.

Thanks again.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-01-2007 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
I understand the lack of USAF interest in Agena;

Well, some context is in order. The USAF is generally not set up to produce histories under contract. They don't have a long-standing contract history program. That means little money sitting around and what they do get they have to fight for. Also, space is not as popular as fighter planes in the Air Force.

NASA is different. NASA HQ has a very good history program and a long history of hiring contract historians. They also have extra money sitting around to fund small projects like monographs. So if somebody proposes a monograph idea to them and they like it, they can send some money that way. USAF is simply not set up to do it, even if they wanted to.

But there's a long tradition on the USAF side of not supporting space history. Vandenberg AFB, for instance, has an official historian who is incredibly difficult to deal with. They have a base "technologist" however, who is in charge of historical sites at the base, and he is outstanding. He doesn't have records, however, just buildings.

In the case of the Agena history, I already had a ton of documents on the early years. I figured that I could write a pretty detailed history of the program up to the mid-1960s and then punt from there. I was primarily looking for USAF money to pay for some travel and interviews so that I could talk to people who worked on the Agena. But USAF was not interested. I love to write about this stuff, but it's a hobby and I need to bring in money to at least cover my research expenses. That's what I was hoping for with the Agena history.

art540
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posted 03-01-2007 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the overview on USAF and NASA activities. Ironically the early Agena days are ny favorites; I followed all the Discoverer launches from 1-38 until the program went underground in 1962. Limited media coverage and details in those days but as a kid I was thriilled to be tracking it.

My current job will keep me from traveling and doing interviews for some years so any writing I accomplish will be mostly factual and dry without personal inputs but maybe images will help to tell the story.

Yes it is too bad you cannot get the financing you need or a grant as David Stumpf received for Titan II.

Thanks again for your personal insights and workings as a researcher.

art540
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posted 03-02-2007 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agena Applications report mid 1964: there was an Auxiliary Propulsion Module flown on some Agena Bs and then adapted into a modular package for Gemini-Agena. Same 16 and 200 lb thrust specs.

By mid 1964 there had been 9 Agenas flown wiht the large solar arrays. Some panels were fixed after extension and some could rotate to face the sun. Some simply deployed outward with stepped panels. Sizes quoted were 10 sq ft to 350 sq ft.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-02-2007 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting. If memory serves, that is the first time I have seen a connection between the programs--indicating that the SPS for GATV (Gemini Agena Target Vehicle) was carried over from a previous program.

I have not seen anything detailed about the solar arrays used for Agena. The drawing that I have (somewhere) shows a rather large extendable array mounted to the rear of a late-model Corona satellite. Clearly this was to provide a fairly large amount of power.

art540
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posted 03-02-2007 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One extended array was rated at 600w and could rotate about one axis to maintain contact with the sun.

If you like I could try to scan the solar array and APS pages and e-mail to you. The report is LMSC-A605327 dated 9/26/64 and is 63 pages.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-02-2007 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
If you like I could try to scan the solar array and APS pages and e-mail to you. The report is LMSC-A605327 dated 9/26/64 and is 63 pages.
Yeah, that would be cool. I can possibly use it to update my KH-7/8 articles.

One thing that I found in the course of researching those articles are some docs indicating when substantial lifetime increases to the KH-8 were introduced. Of course, you can tell that from the on-orbit lifetimes. But it was good to have some documents confirming that upgrades were introduced. My guess is that the biggest change would be increased control gas (they used a cold gas control system). Dunno if other changes, like longer-lived batteries, would have been necessary. The ability to re-boost also might have required changes as well (in other words, if the satellite stays in orbit for a month, it might have to reboost only once, but if it stays up for three months, it might have to reboost three times and therefore require more fuel).

art540
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posted 03-02-2007 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will get those pages scanned and to you. The 1st large solar array was flown in 1961 so I am sure the 2,000 mile near circular orbitng Midases 3 & 4 used them. This means DoD was first ahead of NASA for successfully deployed LARGE solar panels: Ranger 1 August 23,1961 just 6 weeks after Midas 3 July 12,1961. The Agena also had optional gas control and battery and power options as well. Yes documents are nice to find and read about for upgrades and life extensions.

art540
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posted 03-03-2007 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I sent 3 pages this Saturday AM to see if you can open the scans...

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-05-2007 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I received them, thank you.

I'll post some comments here about the Agena SPS when I've looked that over.

art540
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posted 03-05-2007 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have sent 6 more pages this AM on SPS, solar arrays and other Agena misc "stuff"...

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-05-2007 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, much obliged. I'll look at them all this evening. However, you're scanning at much too high resolution. The files are huge.

art540
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posted 03-05-2007 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry - I will take any recommendations. Using 300dpi to jpeg. Probably the photos as those pages take longer to scan.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-05-2007 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've found that you really have to play around to figure out what works best. Considering that you're scanning a low-quality original (i.e. not glossy), then 200 dpi is probably sufficient. Also, the pages are pretty big, so you might consider scanning at 75% size or something.

But it all depends on your scanning software. I have found that scanner software can be some of the worst-designed software that exists. I used one program once that had no "save" button for the scans and no explanation as to how you are supposed to save. It was only after I quit in frustration that I discovered that -- surprise! -- you have to quit the program in order to save the images. Is that dumb or what?!

art540
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posted 03-05-2007 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the quality is litho related. I can do 200 dpi and I can look at the reduction also.

My existing scanning software: I have to quit the program to save and then re-open.

The good news is scanning gives some of my color images new life on color balance and even a transparency like quality.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-07-2007 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I still have not gone through the Agena scans carefully, but a few things stand out:

-there were several solar cell options for the Agena. I didn't realize that. Unfortunately, the doc does not indicate which missions these were for.

-the doc mentions (I don't think you scanned it) the Agena subsatellite. I've written about that subsatellite before, notably in one of my sigint satellite articles. The subsatellite was used for the Agena "small ferret" missions. There were numerous variants. I think I had an article on that in the past year. It was initially billed as the "Discoverer subsatellite" and proposed as a round disk that would be fired off the Agena aft rack. It was then changed into a more angular spacecraft and there were many variants, including one for monitoring Soviet ABM radars.

-the SPS system is described as being somewhat of an ad-hoc system that was later turned into a more compact system for Gemini. No good description of what it was initially used for or how it differed from the one that is illustrated.

art540
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posted 03-07-2007 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will see what other scans I can send you. The SPS was described as being used for 2 satellites in a spaced out orbit. The SPS was used to reduce the Agena orbit and later to reboost it for the second release. The doc does not do much program relating for the Agena applications. As usual a lot of guesswork. I think we can assume the large solar arrays were the polar orbiting Midas.

Dwayne Day
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posted 03-08-2007 09:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
The SPS was described as being used for 2 satellites in a spaced out orbit. The SPS was used to reduce the Agena orbit and later to reboost it for the second release.

That's interesting. Jonathan McDowell can figure that one out. What it means, however, is that SPS was not developed for the KH-7.

I think you're right about the solar panels for Mida. We have illustrations of that.

art540
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posted 03-08-2007 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hall's article on Midas in Quest has both text and a model illustration on solar panels.

I do not know what early pre-1964 missions Agena flew that required SPS.

cspg
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posted 05-12-2007 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
Spies in the Sky: Surveillance Satellites in War and Peace
It's available now at amazon.com.

Chris.

art540
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posted 05-12-2007 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for keeping us updated, Chris.

Art

cspg
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posted 05-13-2007 03:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No problem, Art.

(Note: I don't have any specific commercial relationship with Springer-Praxis...just doing what they ought to be doing, that's all!)

Chris.

Dwayne Day
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Posts: 532
From:
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 05-14-2007 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, it's not available yet. It's available for pre-order.

They're continuing in the tradition of lame Springer-Praxis covers. The B-52 on the cover is out of place and they could have come up with a better Corona image.

art540
Member

Posts: 432
From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 05-14-2007 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dwayne: any idea of the content? New info at all?

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