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KH-6 Lanyard

KH-6 3 [USAF]

KH-6 (Keyhole 6, codenamed Lanyard) was an early attempt to gain higher resolution imagery, which flew only one successful mission in 1963. It was part of the Corona program.

The KH-6 camera was programmed to tilt between fore and aft to cover the same land area twice during a photographic pass and thus to acquire stereo coverage. The KH-6 carried a single panoramic camera, which was a modified Samos E-5 camera built by Kodak and integrated with Corona hardware. The ground resolution of KH-6 was about 1.8 m. The satellites were designed to deorbit a film capsule from space with mid-air recovery of the returning capsule by a specially equipped aircraft. Due to the short mission duration of 8 to 12 days no solar arrays were carried.

The first KH-6 failed to reach orbit. The second one operated in orbit, but failed to use film, so that no images were acquired. Only the third and last KH-6 returned images, but those were found to be of poor quality. The KH-6 Lanyard program was terminated after this flight in favor of the imminent KH-7 (Gambit-1) high resolution reconnaissance satellites.

The failed first mission carried the small "Hitchhiker" satellites.

Some satellites carried secondary payloads mounted on the satellite:

  • KH-6 2 carried the LPARL Aurora 1963b Research Module
Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo
Operator: CIA
Contractors: Lockheed (prime); Kodak (camera)
Equipment: E-5 camera
Configuration: Agena-D, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8096, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: 8 - 12 days
Mass:
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-6 1 (Lanyard 8001, Corona 61, OPS 0627) 1963-F03 18.03.1963 Va 75-3-4 F Thor-SLV2A Agena-D with Hitchhiker (1)
KH-6 2 (Lanyard 8002, Corona 64, OPS 0924, FTV 1110) 1963-016A 18.05.1963 Va 75-3-5 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D
KH-6 3 (Lanyard 8003, Corona 68, OPS 1370) 1963-032A 31.07.1963 Va 75-1-2 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D