The Program 206 satellite, carrying the KH-7 (Keyhole 7) camera system (codenamed Gambit-1), was the first successful high resolution space reconnaissance program. It was managed by NRO's Program A, the USAF-led segment of the National Reconnaissance Program managed from Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo, California.
The satellite was a US Air Force system with long focal length cameras providing sufficiently high resolution to identify and measure the properties of targets such as missiles and aircraft, in contrast to the lower resolution CORONA system which was only able to locate such targets. Its success caused the cancellation of the troubled KH-6 Lanyard program after only three launches.
The main spacecraft was a 3-axis-stabilized satellite which separated from the Agena-D and contained the payload, camera system and reentry vehicle (SRV). It was known as the OCV (Orbital Control Vehicle). It The OCV was made by General Electric's King of Prussia plant, and the RV by GE's West Philadelphia plant. Program 206 used SRV developed for CORONA. The OCV body was a long cylinder, 1.52 meters in diameter and about 5.0 meters long, ending in a conical adapter connecting it to the SRV. The SRV was a 0.8 m long, 0.7 m diameter rounded cone with a mass of about 160 kg containing a Thiokol Star 12 retrorocket, with a mass of 33 kg full and 10 kg empty. The OCV was launched into a low altitude sun-synchronous orbit on an Atlas Agena-D rocket.
The primary mirror on the KH-7 camera had a 112 cm diameter, close to the limit accomodable in the 152 cm diameter of the payload cylinder that housed it. It had a 196 cm focal length and a precission temperature control. These cameras used the strip exposure technique, pulling the film through the camera at the same speed that the camera was moving and exposing it along a thin vertical slitresulting in a long strip of film. From a normal orbit of 167 kilometer, the camera had a swath width of 22 km, with the length of the strip could be up to 741 km. It achieved a typical ground-resolution of 0.61 m to 0.91 m.
Reportedly the early flights had stabilization problems and the Agena was left attached to provide back-up attitude control. Published orbital data implies that the GAMBIT spacecraft generally operated separately from the Agena in orbit. Only on the early flights the Agena didn't separate until after SRV recovery, allowing tests of the OCV stabilization system without risking the imaging mission.
The first KH-7 was destroyed in a pre-launch accident, when the Atlas booster collapsed. Thirty-eight KH-7s had been launched, with two failing to reach orbit and three others failing to return imagery. Two more satellites were built, but after the advent of KH-8 Gambit-3 (Block 1) no longer needed and not launched. These were conserved to be displayed in museums after declassification.
Several missions carried small "Subsatellite Ferret" satellites or other small payloads on the Agena-D stages into orbit.
|Type / Application:||Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)|
|Operator:||US Air Force (USAF)|
|Contractors:||General Electric (OCV, SRV), Eastman Kodak (PPS)|
|Configuration:||OCV, 1 SRV|
|Propulsion:||Star 12 retro motor|
|Lifetime:||up to 9 days|
|KH-7 (Gambit-1)||-||destroyed||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D||destroyed in pre-launch accident|
|KH-7 1 (Gambit-1 1, Mission 4001, OPS 1467)||1963-028A||12.07.1963||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 2 (Gambit-1 2, Mission 4002, OPS 1947)||1963-036A||06.09.1963||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 3 (Gambit-1 3, Mission 4003, OPS 2196)||1963-041A||25.10.1963||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 4 (Gambit-1 4, Mission 4004, OPS 2372)||1963-051A||18.12.1963||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 5 (Gambit-1 5, Mission 4005, OPS 2423)||1964-009A||25.02.1964||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 6 (Gambit-1 6, Mission 4006, OPS 3435)||1964-012A||11.03.1964||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 7 (Gambit-1 7, Mission 4007, OPS 3743)||1964-020A||23.04.1964||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 8 (Gambit-1 8, Mission 4008, OPS 3592)||1964-024A||19.05.1964||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 9 (Gambit-1 9, Mission 4009, OPS 3684)||1964-036A||06.07.1964||Va LC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D||with Noah's Ark|
|KH-7 10 (Gambit-1 10, Mission 4010, OPS 3802)||1964-045A||14.08.1964||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Hitchhiker 2|
|KH-7 11 (Gambit-1 11, Mission 4011, OPS 4262)||1964-058A||23.09.1964||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 12 (Gambit-1 12, Mission 4012, OPS 4036)||1964-F11||07.10.1964||Va PALC-2-4||F||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Pundit 3|
|KH-7 13 (Gambit-1 13, Mission 4013, OPS 4384)||1964-068A||23.10.1964||Va PALC-2-3||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D||with Step Thirteen/Plymouth Rock 3|
|KH-7 14 (Gambit-1 14, Mission 4014, OPS 4439)||1964-079A||04.12.1964||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 15 (Gambit-1 15, Mission 4015, OPS 4703)||1965-005A||23.01.1965||Va PALC-2-3||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 16 (Gambit-1 16, Mission 4016, OPS 4920)||1965-019A||12.03.1965||Va PALC-2-3||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 17 (Gambit-1 17, Mission 4017, OPS 4983)||1965-031A||28.04.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Pundit 4|
|KH-7 18 (Gambit-1 18, Mission 4018, OPS 5236)||1965-041A||27.05.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 19 (Gambit-1 19, Mission 4019, OPS 5501)||1965-050B||25.06.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Fanion 1/Tripos 1|
|KH-7 20 (Gambit-1 20, Mission 4020, OPS 5810)||1965-F07||12.07.1965||Va PALC-2-4||F||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 21 (Gambit-1 21, Mission 4021, OPS 5698)||1965-062A||03.08.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Magnum|
|KH-7 22 (Gambit-1 22, Mission 4022, OPS 7208)||1965-076A||30.09.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 23 (Gambit-1 23, Mission 4023, OPS 6232)||1965-090B||08.11.1965||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Auroral (OPS 8293)|
|KH-7 24 (Gambit-1 24, Mission 4024, OPS 7253)||1966-002A||19.01.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with OPS 3179|
|KH-7 25 (Gambit-1 25, Mission 4025, OPS 1184)||1966-012A||15.02.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Bluebell 2C, Bluebell 2S|
|KH-7 26 (Gambit-1 26, Mission 4026, OPS 0879)||1966-022A||18.03.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with NRL-PL 137|
|KH-7 27 (Gambit-1 27, Mission 4027, OPS 0910)||1966-032A||19.04.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 28 (Gambit-1 28, Mission 4028, OPS 1950)||1966-039A||14.05.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Leige/Plicat|
|KH-7 29 (Gambit-1 29, Mission 4029, OPS 1577)||1966-048A||03.06.1966||Va PALC-2-4||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with OPS 1856|
|KH-7 30 (Gambit-1 30, Mission 4030, OPS 1850)||1966-062A||12.07.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 31 (Gambit-1 31, Mission 4031, OPS 1832)||1966-074A||16.08.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Sampan 1/Sousea 1|
|KH-7 32 (Gambit-1 32, Mission 4032, OPS 1686)||1966-083A||16.09.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with Fanion 2/Tripos 2|
|KH-7 33 (Gambit-1 33, Mission 4033, OPS 2055)||1966-090A||12.10.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with SGLS 1|
|KH-7 34 (Gambit-1 34, Mission 4034, OPS 2070)||1966-098A||02.11.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with OPS 5424|
|KH-7 35 (Gambit-1 35, Mission 4035, OPS 1890)||1966-109A||05.12.1966||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 36 (Gambit-1 36, Mission 4036, OPS 4399)||1967-007A||02.02.1967||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 37 (Gambit-1 37, Mission 4037, OPS 4321)||1967-050A||22.05.1967||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D||with LOGACS|
|KH-7 38 (Gambit-1 38, Mission 4038, OPS 4360)||1967-055A||04.06.1967||Va SLC-4E||Atlas-SLV3 Agena-D|
|KH-7 39 (Gambit-1 39)||-||cancelled||Va||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D||not launched|
|KH-7 40 (Gambit-1 40)||-||cancelled||Va||Atlas-LV3 Agena-D||not launched|