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KH-8 Gambit-3 (Block 1)

KH-8 8 [USAF]

KH-8 or Gambit-3 was the second generation of Gambit high resolution reconnaissance satellites. The KH-8 Block 1 were the initial iteration of this design.

KH-8 introduced a new camera system and reverted back to the Agena-D flight control stage instead of the OCV of its predecessor. The forward part was joint via a roll joint with the Agena-D. The major subsystems of the satellite included a photographic-payload section (PPS), a satellite-control section (SCS), and the booster vehicle. The payload section contained a camera module and a satellite recovery-vehicle (SRV). The control section included the command system, the orbit-adjust module, an attitude-control subsystem, a back-up stabilization system (BUSS), and the power supply.

The camera system was strip camera coupled to an optical system a focal length of 4.46 m. In the optical system the ground image is reflected by a steerable flat mirror to a 1.21 m diameter stationary concave primary mirror. The primary mirror reflects the light through an opening in the flat mirror and through a Ross corrector. At perigeum, the main camera imaged a 6.3 km wide ground swath on a 223.8 mm wide moving portion of film through a small slit aperture. The ground resolution was as small as 0.1 m or better, near the theoretical physical e resolution limit imposed by atmospheric turbulence.

The Astro-Position Terrain Camera (APTC) contained three cameras: a 75 mm focal length terrain frame camera, and two 90 mm focal length stellar cameras. The terrain frame camera takes exposures of Earth in direction of the vehicle roll position for attitude determination. The stellar cameras observed in 180 opposite directions and took images of star fields.

The first 22 satellites, called KH-8 Block 1, featured only one SRV. The sixth mission was the first flight of the stellar index camera. Beginning with the 12th vehicle, an improved roll joint was installed.

Due to the higher launch mass, the KH-8 were launched by Titan-3B Agena-D rockets instead of Atlas Agenas.

KH-8 5 failed to reach orbit. On KH-8 11, the parachute of the SRV capsule failed. KH-8 18 and KH-8 19 had a too high apogees, as the Agena-D failed to switch off at the correct time.

The KH-8 Block-1 satellites were succeeded by the improved KH-8 Block 2 satellites featuring two SRVs.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)
Operator: USAF
Contractors: Lockheed (SCS), Eastman Kodak (PPS), General Electric (SRV)
Equipment: ?
Configuration: Agena-D, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8096, SPS
Power: Batteries
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-8 1 (Gambit-3 4301, OPS 3014) 1966-069A 29.07.1966 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 2 (Gambit-3 4302, OPS 4096) 1966-086A 28.09.1966 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 3 (Gambit-3 4303, OPS 8968) 1966-113A 14.12.1966 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 4 (Gambit-3 4304, OPS 4204) 1967-016A 24.02.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 5 (Gambit-3 4305, OPS 4243) 1967-F04 26.04.1967 Va SLC-4W F Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 6 (Gambit-3 4306, OPS 4282) 1967-064A 20.06.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 7 (Gambit-3 4307, OPS 4886) 1967-079A 16.08.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 8 (Gambit-3 4308, OPS 4941) 1967-090A 19.09.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 9 (Gambit-3 4309, OPS 4995) 1967-103A 25.10.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 10 (Gambit-3 4310, OPS 5000) 1967-121A 05.12.1967 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 11 (Gambit-3 4311, OPS 5028) 1968-005A 18.01.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 12 (Gambit-3 4312, OPS 5057) 1968-018A 13.03.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 13 (Gambit-3 4313, OPS 5105) 1968-031A 17.04.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 14 (Gambit-3 4314, OPS 5138) 1968-047A 05.06.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 15 (Gambit-3 4315, OPS 5187) 1968-064A 06.08.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 16 (Gambit-3 4316, OPS 5247) 1968-074A 10.09.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 17 (Gambit-3 4317, OPS 5296) 1968-099A 06.11.1968 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 18 (Gambit-3 4318, OPS 6518) 1968-108A 04.12.1968 Va SLC-4W p Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 19 (Gambit-3 4319, OPS 7585) 1969-007A 22.01.1969 Va SLC-4W p Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 20 (Gambit-3 4320, OPS 4248) 1969-019A 04.03.1969 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 21 (Gambit-3 4321, OPS 5310) 1969-039A 15.04.1969 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D
KH-8 22 (Gambit-3 4322, OPS 1077) 1969-050A 03.06.1969 Va SLC-4W Titan-3B Agena-D