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KH-4 Corona (Agena-B based)

KH-4 12 [USAF]

The KH-4 (Keyhole-4) was fourth version in the Corona-program to build an optical reconnaissance satellite. Only the first two satellites were launched under the name Discoverer, before this designation was dropped.

The KH-4 payload introduced a second camera to provide stereoscopic imaging. The Corona-M or Mural camera consisted of two C''' (Corona triple-prime) cameras inherited from KH-3. The cameras were mounted with 30 degrees separation angle. The two cameras are referred to as fore (for forward looking) and aft (for rear looking). An additional index camera was also carried. The Film was returned by a single General Electric return vehicle (SRV, Satellite Return Vehicle). The Mural-camera was built by Itek Corporation and had a ground resolution of 3.6 - 5.1 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.

Secondary Payloads

Some missions featured piggy-back payloads, which remained connected to the Agena-B stage.

  • Discoverer 38 (KH-4 1) carried the Wild Bill 1 (Aftrack 20) ELINT payload to search for signals from the HEN HOUSE ABM/AES radar at Sary Shagan and the LPARL Aurora 1962b (Module 110?) payload
  • Discoverer 39 (KH-4 2) carried the Grape Juice 2 (Aftrack 22) COMINT payload and a GRD Package (Module 111?)
  • KH-4 3 carried the GRD Package (Module 112?)
  • KH-4 4 carried the GRD-N-Payload No. 2 (Module 113?)
  • KH-4 5 carried the GRD-N-Payload No. 1 (Module 116)
  • KH-4 6 carried the GRD-N-Payload No. 3 (HSRP 7)
  • KH-4 8 carried an Aerospace Corp Package (Starfish package ? / HSRP-9)
  • KH-4 9 carried the New Jersey 1 (Aftrack 24) COMINT payload
  • KH-4 12 carried the Grape Juice 3 (Aftrack 25) COMINT payload and an Aerospace Corp Package (Starfish package ?)
  • KH-4 14 carried an Aerospace Corp. Package
  • KH-4 15 carried the Plymouth Rock 1 (Aftrack 26/Mission 7201) ELINT payload and a GRD Package (?) Research Module

Later KH-4 missions were based on the Agena-D stage.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)
Operator: CIA
Contractors: Lockheed
Equipment: Mural-camera, index camera
Configuration: Agena-B, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8081, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Mass: ~1200 kg (incl. Agena stage)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-4 1 (Corona 38, Discoverer 38, Wild Bill 1) 1962 ε 1 27.02.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 2 (Corona 39, Discoverer 39, Grape Juice 2) 1962 λ 1 18.04.1962 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 3 (Corona 40) 1962 ρ 1 29.04.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 4 (Corona 42) 1962 φ 1 30.05.1962 Va 75-1-1 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 5 (Corona 43) 1962 χ 1 02.06.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B with OSCAR 2
KH-4 6 (Corona 44) 1962 αβ 23.06.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 8 (Corona 46) 1962 αη 21.07.1962 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 9 (Corona 47, New Jersey 1) 1962 αθ 28.07.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 12 (Corona 51, Grape Juice 3) 1962 αχ 17.09.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B with TRS 2
KH-4 14 (Corona 55) 1962 βο 05.11.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-4 15 (Corona 56, Plymouth Rock 1) 1962 βρ 24.11.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B