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KH-1 Corona

KH-1 5 [USAF]

The KH-1 (Keyhole-1) was the first attempt in the Corona-program to build an optical reconnaissance satellite. These satellites were all launched under the name Discoverer.

The KH-1 payload consisted of the C (Corona) single panoramic camera and a single General Electric return vehicle (SRV, Satellite Return Vehicle). The C-camera was built by the Fairchild Camera Co. and with a f/5.0 aperture and 61 cm focal length had a ground resolution of 12.9 m.

The satellite was based on the Agena-A upper stage, which provided attitude control in orbit. The film return capsule carried its own small solid-fuel retro motor to deorbit at the end of the mission with mid-air recovery of the returning capsule by a specially equipped aircraft.

After testing the basic vehicle without camera and return capsule on Discoverer 1 and only with SRV on Discoverer 2 and 3, ten KH-1 satellites were launched, but only one resulted in a successful return of film. Three missions failed to orbit. When the first eight missions failed to return the capsule successfully, two more Discoverers without imaging payload (Discoverer 12, 13) were launched. After that, KH-1 9 was finally successful resulting in the only return of film during the KH-1 series.

Secondary Payloads

Some satellites carried secondary payloads mounted on the satellite:

  • Discoverer 9 (KH-1 6) carried the TOD 1 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • Discoverer 10 (KH-1 7) carried the TOD 2 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • Discoverer 11 (KH-1 8) carried the TOD 3 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • Discoverer 14 (KH-1 9) carried the TOD 4 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • Discoverer 15 (KH-1 10) carried the Soctop 2 (Aftrack 2) ELINT payload and the Discoverer Optical Beacon
Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)
Operator: CIA
Contractors: Lockheed
Equipment: C-Camera
Configuration: Agena-A, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8048, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Lifetime:
Mass:
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-1 1 (Corona 4, Discoverer 4) 1959-F05 25.06.1959 Va 75-3-5 F Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 2 (Corona 5, Discoverer 5) 1959 ε 1 13.08.1959 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 3 (Corona 6, Discoverer 6) 1959 ζ 19.08.1959 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 4 (Corona 7, Discoverer 7) 1959 κ 07.11.1959 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 5 (Corona 8, Discoverer 8) 1959 λ 20.11.1959 Va 75-3-5 f Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 6 (Corona 9, Discoverer 9) 1960-F01 04.02.1960 Va 75-3-4 F Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 7 (Corona 10, Discoverer 10) 1960-F02 19.02.1960 Va 75-3-5 F Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 8 (Corona 11, Discoverer 11) 1960 δ 15.04.1960 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 9 (Corona 14, Discoverer 14) 1960 κ 18.08.1960 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM18 Agena-A
KH-1 10 (Corona 15, Discoverer 15, Soctop 2) 1960 μ 13.09.1960 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM18 Agena-A