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KH-3 Corona

KH-3 5 [USAF]

KH-3 6 [USAF]

The KH-3 (Keyhole-3) was third version in the Corona-program to build an optical reconnaissance satellite. These satellites were all launched under the name Discoverer.

The KH-3 payload consisted of the further improved C''' (Corona triple-prime) single panoramic camera and a single General Electric return vehicle (SRV, Satellite Return Vehicle). The C'''-camera was built by Itek Corporation and with a f/3.5 aperture and 61 cm focal length had a ground resolution of 7.5 m.

The satellite was based on the Agena-B 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.

The last mission of this series, KH-3 6, was modified and used a forward structure similar to the later KH-4 series with the KH-3 camera.

Six KH-3 satellites were launched, of which four resulted in a successful return of film. One mission failed to orbit. KH-3 5 deployed the small OSCAR 1 ammateur satellite.

Discoverer 32 and 36 (KH-3 4 and 5) carried each an TR-17 type SECOR transponder.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)
Operator: USAF
Contractors: Lockheed
Equipment: C'''-Camera
Configuration: Agena-B, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8081, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-3 1 (Corona 29, Discoverer 29) 1961 ψ 30.08.1961 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-3 2 (Corona 30, Discoverer 30) 1961 ω 1 12.09.1961 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-3 3 (Corona 31, Discoverer 31) 1961 αβ 17.09.1961 Va 75-1-1 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-3 4 (Corona 32, Discoverer 32) 1961 αγ 1 13.10.1961 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-3 5 (Corona 36, Discoverer 36) 1961 ακ 1 12.12.1961 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B with OSCAR 1
KH-3 6 (Corona 37, Discoverer 37) 1962-F01 13.01.1962 Va 75-3-4 F Thor-DM21 Agena-B