The KH-11 series of reconnaissance satellites, also known by their Byeman code names Kennen (the often reported "Kennan" is a misspelling) and Crystal (since 1982), are the first American spy satellites to utilize electro-optical digital imaging, and provide a real-time optical observation capability. They replaced the earlier film-return type satellites of the KH-8 Gambit-3 and KH-9 Hexagon series.
The satellites are believed to use a 2.4 m diameter prime mirror, which gives a theoretical ground resolution of 15 cm. Operational resolution would be worse due to effects of the atmosphere. The eartly satellites likely use photo-diode detctors, later CCD detectors were used for imaging. Reportedly some ELINT equipment is also carried. Prime contractor for the KH-11 satellites is Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin).
The KH-11 satellites were built in several blocks, each introducing improvements. The optical system remained probably mostly unchanged, while sensors and avionics have been improved. With the advent of the more powerful Titan-4 launch vehicle, the amount of fuel has likely been increased for a longer lifetime. The identification of the blocks is tentative and based on the orbital behavior and launch vehicle versions.
The satellites of Block 3 and 4 are hence often dubbed "advanced Crystal". Likely the often reported designation "KH-12" is not correct and they are likely also called KH-11. The Byeman code name Ikon has been reported for this series.
The 8X or EIS program was planned as a replacement, but was finally cancelled due to escalating costs. Otherwise, the Block 4 version is part of EIS.
The FIA optical satellites were designed as their successors, but with continuing delays and finally the collapse of the FIA optical program, two more satellites were procured. Apparently the production has restarted for more satellites.
During development, the Byman code name Zaman was used until 1971, when it was replaced by Kennen. In 1982 it was again changed to Crystal.
The relation to the stealthy Misty satellites is unclear, but Misty might be derived from the KH-11 design.
The KH-11 17 (NROL 71) launch is tentatively assigned to this series, but features a 74° orbital inclination. It might be either a new orbital regime introduced with Block 5 or the satellite might be a new type.
Note: The NROL designations refer to the launch, not to the payload.
|Type / Application:||Reconnaissance, electro-optical|
|Contractors:||Lockheed → Lockheed Martin|
|Power:||Deployable solar arrays, batteries|
|Mass:||13500 kg - 17000 kg|
|Orbit:||300 × 500 km (#1 - #5); 300 × 1000 km, 97° (#6 - #9); 395 km × 419 km, 73.57° (#17)|
|KH-11 1 (Kennen 1, OPS 5705)||1976-125A||19.12.1976||Va SLC-4E||Titan-3D|
|KH-11 2 (Kennen 2, OPS 4515)||1978-060A||14.06.1978||Va SLC-4E||Titan-3D|
|KH-11 3 (Kennen 3, Crystal 3, OPS 2581)||1980-010A||07.02.1980||Va SLC-4E||Titan-3D|
|KH-11 4 (Kennen 4, Crystal 4, OPS 3984)||1981-085A||03.09.1981||Va SLC-4E||Titan-3D|
|KH-11 5 (Kennen 5, Crystal 5, OPS 9627)||1982-111A||17.11.1982||Va SLC-4E||Titan-3D|
|KH-11 6 (Crystal 6, USA 6)||1984-122A||04.12.1984||Va SLC-4E||Titan-34D|
|KH-11 7 (Crystal 7)||1985-F02||28.08.1985||Va SLC-4E||F||Titan-34D|
|KH-11 8 (Crystal 8, USA 27)||1987-090A||26.10.1987||Va SLC-4E||Titan-34D|
|KH-11 9 (Crystal 9, USA 33)||1988-099A||06.11.1988||Va SLC-4E||Titan-34D|
|KH-11 10 (Crystal 10, USA 86)||1992-083A||28.11.1992||Va SLC-4E||Titan-4(04)A|
|KH-11 11 (Crystal 11, USA 116)||1995-066A||05.12.1995||Va SLC-4E||Titan-4(04)A|
|KH-11 12 (Crystal 12, USA 129, NROL 2)||1996-072A||20.12.1996||Va SLC-4E||Titan-4(04)A|
|KH-11 13 (Crystal 13, USA 161, NROL 14)||2001-044A||05.10.2001||Va SLC-4E||Titan-4(04)B|
|KH-11 14 (Crystal 14, USA 186, NROL 20)||2005-042A||19.10.2005||Va SLC-4E||Titan-4(04)B|
|KH-11 15 (Crystal 15, USA 224, NROL 49)||2011-002A||20.01.2011||Va SLC-6||Delta-4H|
|KH-11 16 (Crystal 16, USA 245, NROL 65)||2013-043A||28.08.2013||Va SLC-6||Delta-4H|
|KH-11 17 (Crystal 17, USA 290, NROL 71) ?||2019-004A||19.01.2019||Va SLC-6||Delta-4H (upg.)|
|KH-11 18 (Crystal 18, USA 314, NROL 82)||2021-032A||26.04.2021||Va SLC-6||Delta-4H (upg.)|
|KH-11 19 (Crystal 19, NROL 91)||-||2023||Va SLC-6||Delta-4H (upg.)|