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KH-5 Argon (Agena-D based)

KH-5 12 [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-D stage, which provided three axis control and propulsion during the mission. The SRV was deorbited using its own small solid rocket motor.

Of the Agena-D series, only #8 failed due to attitude control problems. All other returned their film capsules successfully.

Earlier KH-5 missions used the Agena-B stage. The area survey function was later into the KH-4B satellites, which featured the DISIC camera.

Secondary Payloads

Some satellites carried secondary payloads mounted on the satellite:

  • KH-5 10 carried the LPARL Aurora 1963c Research Module
  • KH-5 11 carried the Starflash 1A payload and the Long John 4 (Aftrack 39/Mission 7224) ELINT payload
  • KH-5 12 carried the Starflash 1B payload and the Opporknockity (Aftrack 40/Mission 7215) COMINT payload with coverage in the 66 to 72 MHz band.

Two missions carried small satellites into orbit.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (Area survey)
Operator: CIA
Contractors: Lockheed
Equipment: Argon camera
Configuration: Agena-D, 1 SRV
Propulsion: Bell 8096, Star-12 retro motor
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: up to 6 days
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
KH-5 8 (Argon 8, Corona 63, Mission 9055A, OPS 1008) 1963-F07 26.04.1963 Va 75-1-1 F Thor-DM21 Agena-D
KH-5 9 (Argon 9, Corona 70, Mission 9058A, OPS 1561) 1963-035A 29.08.1963 Va 75-3-5 Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Lampo
KH-5 10 (Argon 10, Corona 72, Mission 9059A, OPS 2437) 1963-042A 29.10.1963 Va 75-3-4 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D with Pundit 1
KH-5 11 (Argon 11, Corona 80, Mission 9063A, Long John 4, OPS 3236) 1964-030A 13.06.1964 Va 75-1-2 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D incl. Starflash 1A
KH-5 12 (Argon 12, Corona 84, Mission 9064A, Opporknockity, OPS 2739) 1964-048A 21.08.1964 Va 75-1-2 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D incl. Starflash 1B

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