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KH-5 Argon (Agena-B based)

KH-5 2 [USAF]

KH-5 (Keyhole 5, codenamed Argon) was the area survey component of the Corona program.

The Argon camera (also called Corona-A), a single frame camera, was integrated with standard Corona hardware like the return vehicle (SRV). The ground resolution of KH-5 was ca. 140 m. The SRV and the camera remained fixed to the Agena-B stage, which provided three axis control and propulsion during the mission. The SRV was deorbited using its own small solid rocket motor.

Only missions #5 and #7 produced usable images, the others failed due to various reasons (#3, 4 launch failures, #1, 2 on orbit failures, #6 failed on recovery)

Later KH-5 missions were based on the Agena-D stage.

Secondary Payloads

Some satellites carried secondary payloads mounted on the satellite:

  • Discoverer 20 (KH-5 1) carried the TOD 8 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • Discoverer 23 (KH-5 2) carried the TOD 9 (Transit-on-Discovery) navigation payload
  • KH-5 5 carried an Aerospace Corp Package (UV Radiometer)
  • KH-5 6 carried an Aerospace Corp Package (Starfish package ?)
  • KH-5 7 carried an Aerospace Corp Package (Starfish package ?)
Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (Area survey)
Operator: CIA
Contractors: Lockheed
Equipment: Argon camera
Configuration: Agena-B, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8081, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: up to 4 days
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-5 1 (Argon 1, Corona 20, Mission 9014A, Discoverer 20) 1961 ε 1 17.02.1961 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 2 (Argon 2, Corona 23, Mission 9016A, Discoverer 23) 1961 λ 1 08.04.1961 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 3 (Argon 3, Corona 24, Mission 9018A, Discoverer 24) 1961-F05 08.06.1961 Va 75-3-4 F Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 4 (Argon 4, Corona 27, Mission 9020A, Discoverer 27) 1961-F07 21.07.1961 Va 75-3-5 F Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 5 (Argon 5, Corona 41, Mission 9034A) 1962 σ 1 15.05.1962 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 6 (Argon 6, Corona 50, Mission 9042A) 1962 αυ 01.09.1962 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-B
KH-5 7 (Argon 7, Corona 53, Mission 9046A) 1962 βε 09.10.1962 Va 75-3-4 Thor-DM21 Agena-B

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