A HISTORY OF SATELLITE RECONNAISSANCE VOLUME I - CORONA BY ROBER

Created: 10/1/1973

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> Volum* I

This volumeistory o: Satellite Reconnaissance iswiih the Corrogram, althoughecessariiv deals reconnaissance satellite activities (Project Feedback,Reccnnamaace 5ysterr.. Weapon Svitemnd several other short-livedith concurrentprograms 1th* severaleriea projects,and variousnd with successor 7hc Samoa orrograms, ur.de;

their several names, are treated ir.olume QIha dale of this

note. ourth volume, concernedn-photographicissar.c; satellites, was also ir. preparation at that time. Volume V. intended tc cetai: the policyrgar.icatior.al activities of niance Office, carries the treatment el these topics through lcbi; asirm plans for acciticr.ai coverage had been mace.

The preparation o; this anc other volumes of this history besar.3 at the suggestion and under the initial direction of Major Genera) Robert E. Greer, then head of the West Coast activities of theeconnaissance Office. I: was carried on. though spasmodically rather thanteady pace, under the spor.sorshio of hu successors in thai

post, chiefly Major General Joan rigacier CcDtril i

W. C, King, Major General Lew Alien, arc Brigadier Cenaral David An early 2nd constant supporter of the project wasE, Worthman, whose association with overflight rfrom the original balloon-lotted Gonctnx, Corona.arc the many

lesser programs cf theccnnaiinr.ee ProgXtni, until his rourcmcntisting of the many other contributors to che history would occupy several Their names appear in the citations that follow each chapter, an inadequate cut necessary acknowledgement o! advice, assistance, and information* as from time id time

in research and writing

tne Ranc Corporation, and by!

Technolosv Service

Marilyn 5choer of Technology Service Corporation cetectec arcmotr of textua. and substantive errors that escapee my notice and thai cf early reviewers. such assistance,emain wholly responsible fcr whatever error* c: omission or commission that escaped the scrutiny oi critics anc associates. m also responsibleextual structure which assumes the reader's familiarity with many aspects of the United States space program thai perhaps were memorable mostly to specialists

j exoerts. this history is concerned with events that for the mos;

part have not been otherwise discussed in any continuing na:ra:;vc.

the circumstances of its preparation die not allowull explanaticr

of peripheral events described in generally available publications.

had it been otherwise, these volumes might have been many times

bulkier and much less marked by assumptions of prior knowledge- :r.

an but nyte that even gibbon mace such excuses.

robert pzrry=

ime during the preparation of this volume was the author form ally employed by or assignee to any element o; the national reconnaissance office or the central intelligence agency. 24 he was head of the air force history office of the space systerns division, air force systems command, operating in supper: of ths directorate of special projects, office of the secretary ci the air force. space systems, by virtuepecial arrangement between thai office and the commander. space systems division. 41 heember of the senicr staff ofnc corporation, working with the directorate of special projects with thehe president o: the corporation. 13 he functionedpecial consultant to the directorateontract between that organisation and technology service corporation. santa monica. california. throughout the period2 research and writing were performedart-time basis, with frequent anclengthy gaps between periods oi active work.)

Foreword tc Volume I

Although largely concerned with Corona, this volume alio includes discussions oi the origins of satellite reconnaissance and of thebetween the Corona program and various other of the overflight activities of the National Reconnaissance Program and its organisational predecessors, including the Central Intelligence Agency.

The antecedents cf Ccrona and us adolescent years are treated tnad II. respectively. Chapter III opensursory review cf Corona activitiesif but is mostly concerned with the operations and subsequent evolution c: the Corona system through Its final mission la Although they are interrelated, each of tne three chapters can stand alone.

Some matters of considerable importance to Corona are dealt with inadequately or not athis volume. EftCh omission of that sort was ceitberate. Issues cf management policy, programand reconnaissance program organization were frequent intruders in the Corona program., but because theynity of their own. anduch issues generally involved far more than Corona, their treatment has mostly been relegated to Volume V. So with cover and iccurity matters; although seme incidents and events directly relevant

io concealment of Corona program activity have been described in this volume, those topics are not explicitly discussed. Such specialised aspects of satellite reconnaissance operations is vulnerability, counter-measures, and the exploitation of returned phctograpny have also been considered only in passing. Technical matters like the carriage of 'piggyback payloacs.mprovements is photochemistry and film, and the development of reentry and recovery machinery have been little mentioned. They require specialized historical coverage and are net integrals cf Corona .

Some readers may wish to proceed directly tc, which covers Corona matters irsm the time cf first successful operation to the end of the program. To ease the: proctss, this foreword includes two specialised summaries, one dealing with program nomenclature (which proved in the end to bt far more confusing than even the most dedicated obscurer of program reality could havend the second with complexities oi program structure and conductfc, after which they became much less confusing.

Code names haveixture of thesecurity system since the. whdn they were applied to contingency war plans. They proliferated during World War U, achieving ieveis of faddishntss

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not surpassed until, when every operation nnore complex than moving .bookcases from one office to another acquired some exotic nickname. So many were the variants of Operation Bootstrap and Project Forecast that the important nicknames and codes coulc scarcely be distinguished from the wholly frivolous. Corona may be uniquely distinguished in that respect. It was never frivolous, and in an activity that lasted more thanears, counting from conception to final flight, the Corona system2 continued tc carry the name first formally applied to its ancestor It had little more in common with that ancestor than its name, and even that was tampered with from time to time. Covert, classified, and unclassified names and designatcrs izr Ccrcna appeared, wers bristly uiad, and disappearec with disconcerting frequency. To moderate the confusicn that would surely arise were names either introduced without explanation or expiair.rd as they occurred, it is advisable iz begineview c: program designators and titles.

All cf tha many model variations of Corona "fell basically into three fundamental versions and two payload variants, The first Coronaingle-camera, single-reccvery-capsuie system; theingle-capsule,amera stereo system; and the third acapsule, dual-camera stereo system. With three exceptions, all versiom

and models carried lhe Corona name, either alone orrefix. Those exceptions were transitory. Mural, Argon. and Lanyard, each discussed below.

Betweeni andhe name Mural was used to identify the original stereo-camera variant of Corona. During that brief period, program managers proceeded on the assumption that the follow-on to the original single-camera program would occupy its own security compartment and needed to be segregated from its predecessor. The possibility that Mural might be developed and operated by the Air Force, with only peripheral CLA participation,actor, but a: the time there was considerable worry thatof Corona nomenclature with what was then represented to be the scientific-satelliiT: "Discoverer" program would. credibility. mbarrassment cf0 could not be easily forgotten. In any went, s; Mural moved toward operational readiness it became increasingly apparent tha: any effort to disguise its ancestry was certain to be futile, and inZ Mural was merged into the existing Corona security package.

Before Mural appeared, three different camera configurations were flown under the Corona nomenclature:nd

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The names all derived from the informal but common practice of conversationally referring to Corona by its initial. The firs:cf the original camera, as known asC-crime" in conversation. Proposalsoubie-Drime"C-triple-prime1') cameras appeared?heairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation (FCIC) design, the Utter advocated oy Itek (which had manufactured and done most of the design for thenc the C^ cameras). T proposal found acceptance: CJ disappeared.

After Mural (which2 and mostJ wasando distinguish it from theand CJ modelsl, there appeared proposals for aversion of Corona. I: first was knew- asr.ccalled(forhich led to somewith the nomenclature used tc identiivconcern of what later became the MuraW

eventually became With the appearance but non-acccotance

Both Uek and Fairchild proposed^ designs; as noted later. Fairchild's design was more attractive. The C^ proposal wai also known, briefly,

l.

ai

in iaci.tocy active invaluation rememberadarlier appearancetorUru anclerks were the principal victims o: she corj'unon.

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roposalodes: improvement of Conder the informs cesi2na:or the original o: the cual-caosuie systems was calledesignation that became meaningful rather than symbolic uocn adoption of the modifications that distinguished the last operational Corona variant. y proposals appea: in various guises and under several transitory identifier; a: intervals but the term had no official standing.

One cf the paylcad variants was the mapping camera program calledut also sometimes identified as as ccmpartmented separately from Coronaominally because it differed from tne basic Corona reconnaissance satellite -r. detail and function, but also because it had Army rather than Air Force or CIA funds sponsorship.

In addition to the mono, stereo, and mappingunder Corona bylines, ye: another photographicby the code name Lanvard, used Corcna harewc.rc us Lanyard, an adaptationamera originally developed asthewas carried forward until lis3

cancellation partlyackup forand partly as a

candidate replacement forlthough it would have iU-servec cither role. Sometimes identified ashe Lanyard stereo system embodied an accommodation of various Corona camera

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subsystems to re-engineeredptics, itn oi the Thor-Aeena booster-spacecraft combination developed :or Corona and ihe Corona film recovery system.

security system.

Although codeword nomenclature was invariably used ior Corona and its variants within what became the|

great many classified and unclassified designators were employed over the years to identify the several Corona modeis and variants In dealing with people no: cognizant of the program's real purpose. as the first unclassified program designator; it disappeared from official use2 but. tike "Samos.avorite of the press for several years thereafter. The pretense that Discoverer wascientific stateilite or an engineering development saialiita had tee-relatively easy to mair.ta.ir. while most missions ended in failure. But once the launch, orbit operations, andechniques being nominallyn Discoverer had bci: debugged and successful missions became the ryi: rather than the exception, it was increasing^ difficult to maintain the credibility ofiction. Pacification of ihe scientific community became particularly awkward. Too many scientists wanted to know when Discoverer would begin carrying their various bulky and weighty scientific experiments, as had rathercr suggestedr at least when they would begin receiving

tcp.

: the biologicalcal data presumably being col-iected by way of Discoverer missions. Byhe representation that Discoverercientific and engineering research vehicle was rapLdly losing its appea'.over story. as therefor* abandoned. Discoverer XXXVII, launched oncl, was the last Corona Lo carry the name. as also the last mono) camera mission. All later Corona operations were casually announced as MDepartmen: of Defense satellite launches,were all other military spacewhatever thoir real nature Fortunately for ail concerned, NASA satellites which really wera what they pretended to be bejza^ to return quantities of scientifically interesting data in the, and that too tended to distract attention earlier focused on Discoverer.

Within the defense communis* Generally*'*rr. within the Corona projrrom, the "whiteM designator used mostrogram identifier once Discoverer disappeared was 'Frogramfl owever, at various later times the numerical designators

Program^ ^Jand Prograrrj' [vere also applied to Corona . ?t was briefly known as>ndn the separate TALENT-KE YKOLI security category (covering the product of satellite reconnaissancehe codeas used tc identify Corona-Mural mission products. Other KK codes,

includingnd KK-3, identified prececessor products ofnd C'J cameras, respectively.**

Individual mission numbers were also usee it. series that readily Identified Corona operations to most cognisant reconr.aissar.ee program participants. Mission numbers in one of four series identified all of the satellite reconnaissance operations thatr booster, anpacecraft, and one or mereeentry capsules.

The first series beganthe mission publicly callec Discoverer IV) and continuedthe last Argon flight). I; included allperations through the end cf theeries as well as all Qlfhls with Arson earner*!. Taa second mission number seriel ran from lOOi, the firs:cual capsule} mission,hel operation. The third, which was ueec loMy forperations, began1 and continuedhe final Cor on* program flight cf Larva rc

f-, :

0 mission numbers overlapped and within j

series were no: necessarily used sequentially, by launch date. Some additional disorderseries program record? occurred because of Ihe irregular uss o: the suffix letter "A" tc identity Arc or: operations, and because in formal program records seme mission numoers appearec iryje, both with anc without the suffix. (The mission numbered 9CI4 in Coronaas listed as an Argonhile the separatelyasas an Argon mission, and there was no ase, the suffix designators were not consistently used in all Corona reporting documents even though the Argon program record; Listed all cartographic camera operations by mission number with suifLx. Interspersed through theseries mission numbers and the early ICOO-series numbers wer: the three Lanyard

In the narrative that follows, the term Corona is usedeneric, Wnere necessary, the subset identifiers C, Cj^ C, Mural.rndre used to singlespecific elements of the overall program. As appropriate, missions arc identified bv mission number and date of launch. That oractice has occr followed in the interests of clarity even if the source documents

The mixup was in record keeping, not in real designation. There was only one and it did carry ar. Argon camera. It should have been entered, in all cases, asA.

ctualiy refer to "Programome other o:

the many transient identifiers used inear* cf Corona activity.

Argon operation* were not really par: of the Corona program but generally were treated as such because ol equipment andsimilarities. To perform its cartographic function. Argon flew much higher than Corona anduchinches focal length) lensifferent camera mechanism, but in mos; outward respects it was indistinguishable1 and the end3 Argon Launches were alternated,

missions were accounted successful in some degree, and the remainder failures. Koubly, list of the first seven mission fttttrnpii failed, but only one failure occurred (onn sixuring the Us: two years of Arcon operations.2 Mission numbers, included in the original Corona series,., and fCt?

The several Samos photographic reccnnaissar.ee systems proposed or developed at intervals53 are discussed in Volume II. They are occasionally mentioned in connection with

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These mission numbers were for Argon missions and should not be counted in any Corona accounting, although summaries writtennd af:er frequently ignored that circumstance, most people tiavinf by ther. forgotten about Argon,

and Setting

Basic mode5 of conducting ihe Corona program were established1 and did no: change greatly thereafter- The Ther booster and Agena spacecraft used in all Ccrcna operations were procured and launched "in the white" and were funded under ordinary Air Force budgets. (The -Army funded most cf Argon .) Thor and Agena research and development programs were funded and conducted Min thehough occasionally classified as to design detail and operating capability. The reconnaissance payioad and payload-peculiar equipment were ceveloped and procured covertly, "in theostly with special Central Intelligence Agency fundi. "Piggyback" paylcads were purchased by their several sponsors. Pre-laur.ch matin; cf the payioad. booster, and spacecraft was performedover: ct4ratter,ecure facility a; Vandenberg Air Force Base. Mission ccntrci and recovery operations wart cover;. Obviously, complete conccalm.en: wis impossible fcecacse missile launches, radio transmissions, and extensive aircraft operations could not be wholly curtained from public observation. Their purposes could be disguised, however, and for the most part were, for moreecade. Recovery operations received occasional and unwanted

procedures were developed as one of the oiishocts

o: the Ccma program. Ail the available evidence indicates that they *ere entirely adecuate.

attention, butatellite launches had become commonplace there was surprisingly alight public interest in the possiblemissions of those identified as "DoD launches."

Occasionally, cf course, there were embarrassing trespasses on Corona security. Inor instance, the San Franciscon commenting on some testimonyenate comrr.itte concerning the need0 strike reconnaissance aircraft, observe that "amazing intelligencey the cameras of the Discovererhad not overcome the reed for manned systems. No:ear later the London Daily Mirror credited Discoverer with having "recently" brought back reconnaissance photographs of Russia, But these were speculative items. Perhaps the most disturbing of early security leaksciumn by Joseph Alsc: that appeared in the New York Her^lc-Triounc (and ether papers) inisop. who characterised himself as Richardldestriefly summarized much o: thehistory c:entioning Major General O. J. Rutland's involvement and identifying0 as the date on which. firs: recovered photographic evidence that no Soviet intercontinental missiles were yet emplaccd, Ke

Ashapterissell and Ritland were indeed responsible tor much of theuccess,C was the key date.

sex

credited Bissell'* enterprise with having Udaior change in the strategic posture of the United States.^ But again there were noof lasting damage, and Corona went on much as beiore.

The management of the several phases and aspects of thevaried from time to time. The original Corona programalmost entirely by Air Force officers, some officiallythe Central Intelligence Agencv but most to the Air ForceCenter lof the Air Research and Development Command) The CIA role was initially confinedto "top-level genera! support, contracting services,factors.'1 With the appearance cf Mural, theconfiguration selection UfMCCI cf the prcgram becamecf CLA field and heacquarter=any of whomForce officers on detached service. 3: Corona management responsibility was an open issuecaused friction between the CIA and the Director ofReconnaissance Office. id not become regularizedthe approvalin6 finally relegated

Curona to the statuserminal system largely managed by the Special Projects Office in Los Angeles.*

Tne involved and disputive question of NRO authorities and responi Dilities involved much more than Ccrcna, of course. The matter is discussed elaewnere in this histor*..

t

management generally resembled that of Corona except that the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E)ember of the configuration control board and exercised consideraole authority in the decision process. Lanvard was managedrogram office reporting to the Directorate of Special Projects, the West Coas: operating arm of the National Reconnaissance Office,

Contractual arrangements were as varied, and frequently as controversial, as were program management responsibilities. The precursor Corona camera was designed by Professor Waiter Levison of Boston Universityounder o:nder contracthe CIA Its technological antecedents stemmed from the earlier developmentamera fornd the still earlier Genetrix camera used in free balloon reconnaissance of the Soviet Union in the. The CIA originally eKpectec Fairchild Camera to design and produceamera, but Eisscll's judgment andunited States Intelligence Board) and CLA preferences caused ltek io become the camera system designer, andubcomponent designer and manufacturing subcontractor (later an associate contractor}, Fairchild participation largely vanished with0 decision to adopt theamera rather than the CJ^ version Fairchild favored. Lockheed performed the spacecraft-camera integration work under contract tc the CLA.

mi

With the appearance of Corona-Mural, the earlier anc less formai arrangementightly structured contractual relatior-shis. Lockheed performed system engineering and technical direction functions under the nominal cognizance of the Directorate o; Specia!

Projects but under the contractual control of the CIA. Ite* was ar

i

associate contractor ratherubcontractor tc Lockheed. 5c

was General Electric, manufacturer o: the reentry capsule and

*

associated subsystems. As late as1 the CIAsuggested that complete responsibility for Ccrona-Mural should be transferred irom the CIA to the NRO. Dr. J. V. Charyk, then Director of the NRO, concluded, that Coronat would phase ou: shortly, being replaced by theystem, and tha: reorganization cf existing relationships for soeriod would be wasteful. However, completefor Lanyard was assigned tc the NRO, to be exercised by the Directorate cf Special Projects The substitution cf tht Aerospace Corporation for Lockheed as system engineering and technical direction "contractor for Corona was proposed as early2 but remained an issue between the CIA and the NRO*

Thcr launch vehicles were purchased under an oper. contract be Douglas and the Air Force.

Theresolution of Corona management controversies mad; the Director oi Special Projects, NRO, system program director for Ccrcna with authority ever systemubsystem development and with authority tonitary System Program Office tc manage details of the program. The Director of Reconnaissance, CIA,and supervised development and production o: the payload (the:

6

Director of Special Projects, NRO).

ut reported directly to the Director, NRO (as did the

NOTES ON SOURCES

1. N'PIC Tech-leal Publicationfeyhole Cameraamera

2.

NRP Satellite Launchrintout cf stored cataand Lanyard pr'-crams updated at

rejuls"it copy cited here Ml Currantravr. is treated in greater detail elsewhere in this hittory.

Sanxaminer . prcr.cor. Dailyew York Hcraid-Trihune, isor column.

. flax, DNRO, to C.ecDof. ubj: Reactions to Proposal on Mew General Search Svstem. summary note* byJ.V. Charyit,d NRO

The records or. Corona management and contracting are,the least, articularly forwere variously specified. Set* personal

. Charyk.n NRO, CclP.Z.rogm ofc, in SAFSP files:, Worth-man to CIA,AFSP tc CLA,

cIA to. Battle. COfOCB of:-

prLA to. Greer, Dir/SP,

loag. LMSS to. Eiasell, CIA. tc. Ritlanc, BMD. ie Sep oO;? and. CLA to Battle.ar. Ford, SAFSP,FR. 1emo, CharykDir. Res,o subj,ir, Res. CIA israft Study, "NRO Functions andrep By NRO staff,ov ol, all in SAFS7 and NRO files. Seeemo. Flax to Vance,pr oo. memo, Fiax to Dir/Recce, CIA.ubj: CORONA Management of NRO/NRPrep byir, Plans and Policy. NRO in NRO files. eriod has oeer. extensivelyol V, which sr.ovlC be consulted.

n'lso -lies.

Memo, Flax io Dir/Recce, CIA, and Dir/SP, SAP, "z- CL: "Corona, ICoth

I BACKGROUND

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A3 early a9 May iQ4o, Project RAND had formallyhe Army Air Forces ths advisability ofatellite ano--ir. oneit for reconnaissance. Although nothing useful emerged from the resulting discussions--the Army and Navy differed sharolv on who should have responsibility for spacerenewed the suggestion again innc the end of tha: year, following crcaiiO' cf an independent United States Air Force, service soedalists at Wright Field had endorsed the general thesis. Principally because no money was available for such ar. undertaking, nothing more venturesomeontinuing study crcsr*.rr. wasuthorizes, liowever. a: the urging o:ield's Engineering Division, which was concerned by the scssibiiity that the Navy might actually construct andmall satellite, the Air Force early in6 formallyofor al! SpaCt vehicles, rgciy because they hac no valid grounds for objecting, the other services ie? the dictatey default.1

progenitor of The Rand Corporation, butpecial-element of the Douglas Aircraft Corporation.

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rfConnAis*tr.C5atiir cf "vital strategic interest tc the Unltec'States.11 aequarter*ystem requirement which officiallyataiiiti development program.

System management responsibility was initially assignedight Air Development Center cut tnfter preliminary design and deveiopmen: contracts had been let. AADC iransferrec custody tosterr Development Division, createdear earlier to manage the revitalised ballistic missile development- Ths close relationship between the satellite and its prcipectiv* booster, the Atias missis, rompted tht decision*

r

Ursi year of System work,ould reouirs Over the precedingears

Tne first complete develop men; planeconnaissance satellite, proposing full operational capability byhird quarterppeared on lan for an "Interim'* satellitepplication! had ote- prepared if. January.) EkcIujlv-cf facilities, development cost was estimated a;

had beer, expended on Sn. pr0frara> inciudingEudieB EndaMcomponem deVeioRmaa[s. For8 rea,on5. propress had beflR ,gonirt .

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assrovai of the developmentind issuance o: a

i

confirming development directive, the financial stringency seemed to be passing, butinitial iuncs allocation forhen ii appeared, totaled oniy^

Nevertheless. Western Deveicpmcnt Division or.6etter contract tc Lockheed Aircraft Corporation which made that firm the prime contractor tor WS Design studies had originally beer, solicited in December lc:ii, when Wright AirCenter moved to invite the participation of IS individual contractors Thebjections o: RAND Corporation tohot sun approachast-minute change of plans and the original invitations were

suppressec. (Only one had actually been mailed and it wss recovered,n orders from Air Force headquarters (prompted by

RAND's insistence that "unique and unusual" security washe Air Research and Development Command directed that or.Lv Lockheed,

Bel! Telephone Laboratories, Gier, L. Martin Company, and RCA

receive bid invitations.

Bell declined to participate. Th- Air Force funded design

studies by the other three, the trio c; proposals being received by

Western Development Division ir. March, after transfer o: program

authority ircm Wright Field. eicetior. beard (which included as

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Lieutenant Colonels W. C, King and V. M, Centr, both later to clav nry prominent roltt in satellite reconnaissance) ratsc Lockheed's proposal highest and0c report urged useamera for ihe photography, favoring thatanning earner* because ci simpler lens design, the relative ease cfhutter simplicity,ess complex film transport iystem* The delay from March to October laontract had been caused by fundiven after the award to Lockheed, work had to tc conducted a: about one-tenth the planned rate.**

For theeveralpcrat* efforts to securefundi and toigh-level enccrieman;culdncreasing the pace ci the program warenavailing. Atr Korce Secretary L, Guarles respenanc to news cfac. award by ruling that neither mocx--ps nor expertrr.er.ta: vehicle;e cuLU without his specific prior approva.. eecmec endangered by cemonstratiens of homage tc tha "space tor peace" theme that hacredo of United States policy5 ind by the concurrent esnphaeia on cutting all lBnon*eritical" fundi cut ol in- defence budget,

After fut:lel> Attempting t& re-lnterpre: secretarial directives to tha advantage o: theZ. program, Major General B. A. Schrie--

Western Development Divisioc ccrr.mancer, concentrated or ar. effort to secure further increments of7 funds. TheIrecues- was scaled down tofl

five month* lat*r, Air Force headquarters released enough money t^

lb| the availabletotal to^

ver then introduced the suggestion thaiemployed o the faltering Vanguard scientific satellite. It brought no relief. Proposal, for the use of theL satellite tn the International Geophysical Year program had first beer heard3 but had been repeatedly rejected cr. the grounds that it wasto national policy to us- rr.iiitlrv hardware In "peaceful-space programs. Ininal increment of ^

prcsorc: that Bfi rr.c:

was releasee wine Western Development Division, raisiac the tela;

available for fiscalto

r

requirement" for

The obstacles that Schriever faced were two; Ovaries' attitude, and the Quixotic "space for peace" homily that so facinatec the national administration. Queries was no: actively hostile lo the satellite program as each, but he had developed strong views about reliability ind using low-risk technology and he took very seriously the administration

commitment toon-critical" defense expenditures. tc be embodied inL satellite was largelysatellite had ever been orbited, and little wasight aris#eigniiess, airless environment. Nor wasfor satellite overflight generally acknowledged. herefore, the entire thesis ofsnaky* Ir. such reasoning Quaries food;cr his stubborn refusal tc approve the star: ci adevelopment program. He was more than willing to allowstudies to proc-od--bu: further he would not gc. Theen* administration was wrt tilingrowing financiallater that year would cauie the government to postponedefense contracts ir. order to relieve pressure

national debtaccitional weight tc the arguments c; the

economy bloc.

Perhaps equally critical to the futurt of thtrogram was tne intransigence o: adminietration advisors onpace for seace" policy. Inchriever faced squarely up to this question instructingL program chief*-Colonelder--to conduct an exhaustive studv of tht basic problem.'*

The difficulty wasimple one. In many respects it jtemmed from thedecll Ion that the United States would

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participate tn the International Geophysical Year satellite activity but that such participation would limited to -military 'harcwarc/ Whatever its merits, and tne administration judged that the public relations benefit* would be considerable, thetiv*iy eliminated ballistic missiles from consideration as booster! anc caused independent development o: what became the Vacfuard.

Although not clearly or awn. the issuemmed front uncertainty about the legality of satellite operations undar international Law. So long as policy maxers Is the national military establishment doubted the technical feasibility c: satallUi operations, there was no point to considering hew space vehicles were affected by passage over national borders. Even when technical ieasibility was conceded, the absenceealistic. funded development program mi* suchacademic. It is no; surprising, therefore* tnat CGRCtm ior the jurisdictional complication* tha: might arise irom latelltte operation! was largely COcflnedmall circle of space flight devotaai andew specialists in international lav. With minor exceptions, most secretariat-lc^-el policy makers considered the entire subject tcreposterous waste o: time and ntoaoy. Nevertheless, the mtroductior of paramilitary vehicles snto space, particularly if (bay were tonown reconnaissance capability, ran counter to the instincts of the State Department and hence of the administration.

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Both th* RAND Corporiucn and the Air Force had researchec the question of space flight and international lawrc but there was DC evidence tha: such finding! as emerged influenced decisions on either the Advanced Reconnaissance System development or on the International Geophysical Year satellite program., WhenL Ml finally approved for developmentr the problem was asain glassed over, since t; seemed prcbabie that a; least six vears would elapse before th- first operational vehicle was launched.

Ins partetermincd United States effort tc arriveechnique cf arms control acceptable tc the Soviet Union, tne President proposec 'mutual air rcccnnaisaar.ee"eans c; policing international disarmament.omewhat similar concept had Deen embodied in tne"Bench Plan" for inttrn=:icnal centre! of nuclear weapons. Predictably, ths Scviet Union endorsed the icst Min principle" and found excellent reasons for Opposing Lt! application, Tne traditional Soviet deference tc "airspace sovereignty" was un*actor. Yet tnree months earlier, tnhe Soviets had openly announced their intention cf orbiting various scientifichac identified "photographicortion of tnt proposed cargo. The United States followed suit,ith an announcement of its own scientific satellite. Apart from an

inconspicuous mention o: American interest in military satellite!6 report by the Secretary of the Air Forceonsiderable volume oi speculative writing about potential satellite applications, nothing much had been said or either side about tne implications of reconnaissance overflights by orbiting vehicles. Probably because the "mutual air reconnaissance'" scheme stalled at the platitude ita^c, specific vehicles were never discussed. (Botht?h* altitude modification of th*ere in development, however.)

One o: the background figures responsible for the 'aerial Inspection" ploy was Richard S. Leghorn, an Eastman Kodak official recently returned to civilian Life after active duty service as an Air Force colonel curing the Korean call-up. As early ase had publicly, If Indirectly, suggested that satellite reconnaissance techniques might make inspected disarmament feasible. In5 he prepared and privatelypecific proposal that satellite reconnaissance become the "inspectionrms control* Both because of his work with Kodak and throucr. his Pentagonns"he had served under Scnriever in the Advanced Plans Section of the Air Force headquarters--he was familiar with W5echnology Russia's obviooi mistrust of the original Eisenhower inspection proposal convinced Leghorn thatutually Lcceptablc

inspection agreement with the Soviets would be "virtually impossible. Assuming thatould be fundedespectable level and thus would lead to an operationally eligible reconnaissance satellite byLeghorn suggested that the W5 UTLimilar vehicle be used for covert overflights of the Soviet land mass. lr.c he updated his earlier paper andopy to Schrievcr, by then the commander of the Wee tern Development Division.

Overflight, whether covert, overt in the face of Soviet protests or openly conducted under the sponsorship of seme miernaitcnais5 very nearly an essential cf national security for tne United States. Like espionage, overflightustomary, i: Seldom acknowledged, instrument ci peacetime military activity. Literally hundreds ci instances had been recorded starting with Front! and German penetrations of border defense zones in theeric Aircraft violations of international boundaries were among the rr.es: frecuent causes o: amoassaoorial protests and apoicjies Curing ths nvolving both Russian and American aireere common to tne fringes oi both the iron and bamboo curtains during the. Neither side evereliberate policy of Serial espionage, but its existence was indisoutacU.

The near impossibility that the United States could everUrpTiS* attack made that nation more dependent than the Soviet Union on overflight-derived information for warning of possibly hostile concentrations. The Soviets did not accept tne validity of that reasoning, but it nonetheless remained an element of United Stales military readiness. The principal advantage of overflight, of course, would be to provide targeting information nowhere else obtainable and. under favorable conditions, to furnish at least awarning of Soviet preparations for attack.

Aircraft range limitations and their vulnerability tc convention air defense measures mace deep penetrations of Soviet air spaceand dangerous. The enormous breadth of th- Soviet Union dilutee the worth cf shallow penetrations* Seme indication of the value of border-te-border passes was provideducc-ssior c; balloon overflights that finally endco in Februaryafter four years of surprising succcs*. The program (Gcnetrtx: had'beer ccrojciec under cover of an upper-atmosphere research protect nominally managed by ihe Air Fore- Cambridge Research Center. Over the several years of its existence, Genetrixariety oi camera* andealth of information on such diverse subjects as precise altitude control of balloons curing long periods and techniques of recovering

top secret

parachuted camera capsulesatch. Although tne United Statesenied an overflight intention, the effort was ostensibly canceled because of the violence o: Russian protests (which were heightened by use of similar balloons to release propapanca materials deeo behind the iron curtain).

In actuality there were more practical reasons for halting the balloon operations. One factor was that about as much information has been gathered as seemed feasible withoutiolentnother was that by5 Scvset air defense forces were routinely destroying Cenatrtg balloons. Although by then the launch group couid have successfully operated the balloons at altitudes above the retch c: contemporary Soviet weapons, that option was discarded becausethe danger that lt might motivate the Soviets to develop weapons tifsctivsircraft which were scheduled to begin their high-altitude penetrations shortly thereafter.

A determined effort to create ar. aircraft-mode reconnaissance capabilityotential for greater selectivity and accuracy char the random-path balloon operations had begun it included tht "si?7 aircraft and thes well as more

ambitious ultra-high-altitudc winged vehicles, both manned and unmanne: Satellite reconnaissance was not included, mostly because of cor.temocra

D

deier.se department opinion that i: was only theoretically feasible and a: best could not be c: practical use before the.

Leghorn's endorsement cf satellite reconnaissance was base; on the ihasLs lhat an orbiting camera would be more difficult to diss': than cameras carried in boliocns and aircraft. He suggested als^ that an unpublicized asries cf successful satellite reconnaissance flights might reasonably be followediscrast diplomatic appro* tc the Soviet Union, the presentation c: copies ofcr;%aissa::ce "'take, Ma private agreement that the Soviets ware free to reap anv orooassnda credit thev chose ifut cropcjc interfere fret: satellite inspections as an international modus vivendi.

Although Leghorn's ideas were wellcTL chief. Colonel Oder, they were of little moreinterest until the springT. Then the fundsincreasing frustrations of the "space for peace"insistence on more studies and Isss

d^fer.st! department hostility ic 'space research" drove Schriever

Dunns the immediate pre-Sputnik monthsonsiderable quantity of Air rcrce time was devoted to reprocramming all spacs associated projects to obscure any connotation of space flight intere Stubcorr project officers and staff planners carefully constructed

and Oder to consider all conceivable alternatives io the "normal" development cycle they had been pursuing.

In that milieu, Schriever in7 instructed Oder ioolicy approach that would improve the status of the Air Force satellite program. Colonel Oder promptly began an analysis of national policy considerations affecting the actual use of satellite reconnaissance, an examination of security factors that would have to be accommodated in announcing the Air Force program to the public,onsideration of possible scientific applications of theL vehicle.

Convinced of the desperate needevice that would permit acceleration of the satelliteleast to the pace originally proposed--Schr>ever also discussed his quandary in some detail with Colonel W. A. Shcppard, Lieutenant Colonel T. Walkowica, and Leghorn. They were generally agreed on the seriousness of the situation, but for the moment were unable to suggest an approach that would overbear stubborn administration objections to an adequately-funded satellite program.**

"high altitude research" camouflage around all that could be preserved The alternative, precisely defined by defense department statements on "uselessas cancellation. orresponding amount of reprogramming effort was necessary in tha immediate post-Sputnik period, when "space" suddenlyespectable word once again.

While such deliberation! were continuing. General Schriever mace yet another effort to secure neeced funds throuir. established channels. The first annual revision c: theL development piat went forward in April, butatter of weeks it nac oecome apparent that in8 as In previous years the program would probably be fundedevel well belcw that considered acceptable by program managers* Discussions o: money and of possiolc schedule adjustments marked May and early June. The existent development ulan then called for initial launches0 and full operational Status five years later, bu: mat schedule was totally dependent or. finding money to suppcrt accelerated development curingc.

In mid-June. General Schriever met with theof Consultants on Foreign Intelligencetatus of the satellite reconnaissance program, ths critics,satellite-obtainedthe advantagesilitarycivilian-managed approach, and the rationale for continuedconduct of the program. Shortly thereafter, thefinancial crisis oblitfvd the project office to submit aplan that Incorporated ar.s wel. as arequest. By late July, spendingad been imposedLockheed tc atne firs: half of the

fiscal year andntire yei:.

Colonel Oder'had earlier defined aas the

minimum needed to maintain hopesirst launch by lSoC.C

Well In advance o: official notification that program tunes would be virtually nonexistent durinjolonel Oder had informally proposed an alternate approach to General Schnever. Concluding that in some ce;ree the persistent funding* tied to the administration's determination not to undertake annew program thai, if ttpublicly known, might ultimate:-iesser. chances o: arriving at asettlement with the Sovie: onion, Schrievor quietly endoried the alierr.Ate proposal, which he called "Second Story.1'

The "Second Sccry"waa builtart* precondition! covert overAight, participation c; therai Intelligence Agency, anc program acceleration. I: involved an announced cancellation ol therogram, overt establishmentheavy-eight" Air rcrce scientific satellite pro.iectoliow-on to the marginal Vanguard, and covert re-establishment of the reconnaissance program under

Colonel Oder'sinvented the name to identify the file of working papers which had to be kept apart from otherL documents "Second Story"ather than an upper floor, althoughaswritten "Second

tol'-T

Effort was not entirely diverted to "Second Story" duruf the .ate amnsnorut sporadic attempts to obtain relief from the WS UTL expenditures ceiling were repetitiously unsuccessful. Early tn September, General Putt secured permission for the Start ofn mock-up of the Lockheed upper stage vehicle and for fabrication of hardware items that had to be purchased well in advance if an experimental satellite were to be flownC, bu: restatements of the fiscalfunding requirements--and their endorsement by the Airad no effect. The purse remained closed.

The satellite program was not alone in that situation. Virtually every major development effort, including ballistic misi.its, was affected* Expenditure limitations were imposed on all major military programs so that the administration would net be forced to ask Congre*igher celling or the national debt, an expedient which the Treasure Department viewed with considerable eUataste,n election vear.

Ir: such circumitances, "Second Story" ofiered perhaps tne only realistic hop*. Ill key was ostensible conversion of lhe existentL effortcientific satellite program.. General Schricvcr tentatively approved un action schedule which called for General Put: to "request" and BMD toew scientific satellite proposal

Mm .

TOP SWfRET

eptember. Assuming unimpeded flow of the subsequent actions, the covert CIA program would come into being several weeks later, stde-by-side with the "scientific satellite" that hadtheL.*

The arguments supportingourse were impressiveat least to those who felt, with Schriever and Oder, that the technical feasibilityeconnaissance satellite had been dearly established by moreecade of study and experimentation. All of the key technical ingredients were available from the current program. The United States had conducted covert reconnaissance in the past and was planning mere for the future. It certainly should be possible,to begin covert satellite reconnaissance0 and to maintain continuous surveillance of the Sovitt Union thereafter. Schriever and Oder were confident that tbe group which had so skillfully managed the intercontinental ballistic missile program could successfully administer the "Second Story" effort.

Conceding that covert operationhotographic satellite could not be indefinitely sustained, Oder suggested that the basic vehicle be publicly identifiedeather surveillance satellite to

CIA records are largely silent on these matters. They were mostly

handled by personal contact among Bisscli, Land. Schriever. and Oder.

20

top SEcacrr

TOPytCKET

follow rhe Vanguard. Initially, extremely tight security overcomponents would be maintained. If at some later date the arms control efforts of the United States were successful, the reconnaissance components could be surfaced as newly devised "improvementsM and applied to an international arms control system.

The necessary ingredients, as Oder and Leghorn saw it, were Presidential confirmationigh priority, followed by adequate funding; approval of the political approach: and. finally, cancellation of the WS UTL and substitution ol either clandestinevery secure" Air Force reconnaissance satellite program.

The schedule Colonel Oder had proposed early in August

proved impossible to maintain, but before the end of tha: month

Schriever had briefed Dr. Killian and had exposed the total scheme

to Major General A.odpaster, the President's military aide,

and others at the White House lev-:. The Schriever group also mace

informal contact with tne Department of State and renewed discussions

13

with Bissell and Wishe Central Intelligence Agency.

The "Second Story" proposal had been entirely concocted within Schriever'* own divisionad not thus far beer, introduced into "normal" channels. General Putt and his immediatead been the principal contacts in Air Force headquarters. Through Putt,

TOP

Schrieverormal meeting with State and CIA for late *

September, by which lime he planned to have the "Second Story" proposalorm suitable for line-of-command submission.!

While In the Pentagon oneptember, General Schriever prepared an official letter to .Lieutenantnderson. Air Research and Development Command chief, recommending conversion ofLcientific satellite. Colonel Cdertook it to General Anderson that afternoon, seizing ths. opportunity of us delivery to brief him on the background of th* proposal and its real purpose, unfortunately for the schedule earlier mapped out. General Anderson instructed his heaac#uart^rs staff to prepare and coordinate an endorsement tc Air Force heacquarters. For several days the ARDC group debated th- meritsvarious response* and then produced an unenthusiastic comment letter which, Ln the later view of at -aas: one "Secondupporter, was worse

e

than no response at all- Consequently, the "formal" proposal Schriever had wanted Anderson to send to the Air Force chief of staff proved both late and

The possibility tha: the Anderson "endorsement" was composed by officers who were unaware of its actual motivation cannot oe but neither can it be satisfactorily explained. It is far more likely thattaff acteo out of native cislikecheme that would have removed yet another major program from

ARDC control--as had happenec with the whole of the ballistic missile effort.

Ccniroa CW

By late September, tht complications inherent in "coordinating" *all tht authorities involved in scientific and military satellite programs had thoroughly impeded progress toward Schriover'i OQ*l^ Early that month, ne had learnedepartment of Defense decision to re-activate the "Stewart Committee" which had recommences the original Vanguard program and had later rejected Army and Air Force back-up proposals. It appeared that the Stewart Committee was io be the chief executive agency in selection of an advanced scientific satellite. In its turn* the revived Stewart Committee planned to call

on the services to submit proposals of such advanced satellites. The

It

invitation was to be issued between7 and

General Schrtever also learned that 'an influential DoD COMultaa wasemorandum for W. M. Kclacay. the defenseDirector of Guiced Missiles- calling icr establishmentational policy on space exploration and unfavorably analysing the feasibilityL scientific satellite. Arguments against theL" included the lack of agreement within the Air Force on the value ofatellite, the security complications inherentcientific satellite using military hardware, andcientific satellite program wick the military satellite effort.

RET

TOP,

Of course, the "Second Story" as refined summarily diipunud of such objections byhe WS UTi. rteoimaitiancc aciivki)overt project, but advice ciourse obviously had no; reached the "influential consultant." Moreover, the tenor of the pendinc memorandum was in agreement with existentstratior. policy.

Ln order to secure acceptar.ee of the "Second Story"would be necessary for the Saliiitic Missile Divisionoetailed scientific satellite proposalAir Secretariat could present to the Defense DepartmentAir Force unity or. itso plan arrelease policy, and tc prcve to al! concerned {includingCommittee!cientific variant o: thebenefit the military program. I: Seemed unlike!these

steps could be taken

he appearance ofancelled much cf the rationale of the "Second Story" approach. Almost immediately thereafter. General. White, Air Force Chief of Staff, told the Air Staff to drop considerationcientific satellite and to concentrate on accelerating the basicJ_ program. Defense Secretary C. E. Wilson, notoriouslyis outlook, was retiring from

aev

is replacement. Neil McElroy, wii expected toubstantial program expansion Essential funds, long detavedcissenslon over the feasibility cf and the reai requirement for asatellite, could be expected shortly. uosecuent attemot to convince the Deputy Secretary of Defense- D. A. Guarles.L should be accelerated was generally unsuccessful, anc

ressure from Cuaries. Air Fcrct Secretary J. E. Do

his earlier approval cf program acceleration, Putt, working desperately tc overcome secretarial inertia, secured permission from Douglas to present the issue directly to .McElroy for resolution and stmultan-ouslv urged General Anderson tclan for an eariy Air Force "spacehich would enhance the possibility of securing appropriateL. funding. At the same time, Genera, White, disregarding command channels in the interest cf speed, instructed BMD toew ballistic missile anc stace program

a funding level cf

the current^

thus increasmc thef effort to he maximum possible in terms of technical anc operational

The optimism of the Air Staff and of General White proved Justified. Onctober, after Putt briefed him on theL program. Defense Secretary McElroy reversed the Queries decision ufctober and aiAttc to be advised on how the satellite program

TOP SECRET

r.Wul l

- -

could be accelerated. Three days later he authorised the Air Force

to proceed "a: the maximum rate consistent with good management,

For the moment, "Second Story" waselter oi

proposals, acceleration plans, and suggestions for "interim" satellites,

both scientific and military. In part because of the consternation

caused by Sputnik and by immediately subsequent failures Is several

hasty and overpubiicised attempts tc orbitade in the

United States,L acquired the support so long withheld. But,

beneath the surface there flowed an undercurrent cf reluctance to

sponsor an "open" reconnaissance satellite program which, by

antagonizing the Soviets, woulc weaken the prospect c; relaxing

woric tensions and reaching agreement on other points at issue.

Additionally, there were psychological obstacles to securing uninhibited

approvalajor space program. The President reseated inference*

tha: his administration had beenn suooorttng earlier szace and

missile proposals, so there was continued reluctance to approve

program accelerations which indicated that "crash efforts* were

necessary to overcome earlier lapses. Finally, notwithstanding the evidence at hand, the conviction persisted at high levels that the entire space program wasatter of public relations than of engineer-

ing, tha: nothing useful could come of an investmentatellite

20

development.

Zc

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CRET

NOTZS ON SOURCES

5eefF Spaceerry, SSD.

SRAND, Project Feed Back, prep by.e, ARDC,,. Yates, Dir/RiD. USAF, io CO ARDC.ubj: Project Feed Back, all in SF Samo* flies; see aiso Ferry.nd USAF Space Procrarr.:prep by USAF Hit: Div. Ferry; lor. Schriever, Cmdr AFSC,. McKee, VCS USAF,

I_:r. MajGer. A.n-.dr WeapSys. ARDC. tc CMDRev Plan, L,emo, UCenD.L.C5/D, USAF,GD (forignature),ubj: Air Force Satellite Program; Dev Dtreu;ARDC Sys Dev Dir.,ee also USAF 5cact Programs sec I. rner-o,. Smart,CS USAF, to Air. SAFdvancedSyitem.

oo

Visu

= Cc: 5e. USAFtr,SAF to Cmdr ARDC.equirements for Additional7 Funds for! and Ferret Systems, r.emc, prep by.DC. subj; Background or. th* Selection c; Contractors to Concut: tne ARS Design Studies. 7WMZ ARDC tc WADC.annd TWXADC isc. SP Samoa files.

Ltr, MajGer.. 5chriever. Cncr WDD. toSAF.ubj; Fianninj anc Funding Requirements fortr, .F, lo Cmdro subj; memo for record,. Dillon,taff, subj: Visit to Western Development Division or.L;emo for SOD prep bySAF for signature c:;. Sharp, Ass:Mat. to DCS/M,o aubj.

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6. . OderF,ci.erry.

- Leghorn's proposal is cenuint:emcrar.ccm dated Zswhich is annotated to show tha: t: represents aactemo. Titled "Political Action ar.dof thet is preservedpecial file mai:bySAFSP. The copy was giver, to.. ir. Mar or Oder (interviewarthe source for the information concerning Leghorn'sto the "open skies" proposal Information onskies" proposal and its fate is drawnFactul j? Leghorn cper-iyinspection tn. Naws and Worio Reoor:Need to Bomb Cities to Wir.U.S. Car

Photograph Russia From the Air Details or the reconnaissance vehicle proposals and programs of theexcept, whichlandestm* development) can be found in various histories o: Wright Air Development Center.

oariicelsrly July-Dec RAND Corp publisr.ei

a closely held summary o:xperience tr.

Ctsc Studies o: Acual and AUs;ec.

open" information onallccr* flights

found ir. Facts or. File,5 Feb 5c.

i. Draft chrcnciogy of Ccrona program, prep by

5MD Histn. from mails ilety.rop-ape recording c: discussion ofrog,nvolving Oder, Rockefeller,o; W. A, Shepparc, notes taken from oris recording by R. L.cited a* Corona Chronology and Corona tape, respectively

Corona Chronology,oronaemo,. Oder,L Prog, to. Scr.never. Cmdr WDD, no lubj, in Oder papers;L Dcv Plan.r, ColK.F.sst for GM. ARDC. toSAF,ubj: Program Planning Ouicance for. andun.SAF to Cmdrame subj, in Hq USAF Htlt Div files,

Corona Chronology.orona. Caiiidy,, Fres1 Bd c: Consultants or. Fom iniel Activities, to. Schriever, Cmcr WDD. ay 5T. no lubj. in Ford files, memo, Oder to Schriever,. Oder interview,

Memo,. Botu'bey, Asst Dir/DLD. COSA]ubj: Information for Senate Investigating Committee ltr,.r.dr BMD. IO Dir/RliD, USAF,ubj:1S Fund Requirements, ltr. Pur. to Cmcr ARDC.q USAF fiie#.

Corona Chronology; memo, Oder toever anc atchs,

ug.

Coronaemo.. Oder.L Prog, to. Schriever, Cmdr WDD.o subj. in Oder files.

Oder interview.tr,. Schriever, Cmdr AFBMD, to LtGen. Anderson, Cmdr ARDC,o subj, in Foreorona Chronology, AprCorona tape,

9

Ltr.. Gibbs, USAF LiaisonL Vanguard Proj, tochriev-r. Cmdr AFBMD.o subj; Fcrc tiles: Corcna tape.

Ltr. Gibbs toorona tape.

Ltr,. Putt. DCS/D. USAF.. Anderson Cmdr ARDC.o subj.

16. TWX.SAF to AFBMD,orona Chronology.

19. Memo,.. to DCS/D, USAF,ubj: Information for Senate InvestigatingSAF Policyoth in USAF Hist Dw files.

TOP

Ne" Yorkor articles reflecting the viewpoints of Key administration officials on Sputnik and the need for an expanded United States space program. See also John Emma! Hughes, The Ordeal cf Power, for aaccount of White House reaction to the Sputnikr, Putt to Anderson, s the Dost surviving record of executive reluctance to abandon pre-Sputnik attitudes concerning space enterprise.

T

21. ll's reflections, as recalled some I; years later, have been summarized in CIA Intelligence Journal,

LI CORONA--PKASZ I

Trailing alterrc Sputnik IIuccession of proposals for accelerating theL program and forhe "pre-eminence" of the United States In space- Perhapstne disaster-haunted Vanguard program absorbed public attention almost to the exclusion of concern ior military programs.inquiries into the American space effort did not focus or WSttempt! to fix responsibility for the "space gap" became so entangled with partisan politics, interservice rivalries, and the fecundity of the Defense Department in creating new committees, czars, councils, boards, and agencies to deal with the "space program" that they wars meaningless.

While the Navy was desperately attempting to overcame the effects of three year* of pennypinching in Vanguard and the Army vainly sought permission to orbit satellites earlier built ir violation of secretarial directives,crce was the recipient of

from several quarters that the Thor intermediate range ballistic missile, scheduled for availability sooner than the Atlas, be used tcatellite into orbit.

The earliest formal proposal of that sort emerged in theoecial ARDC committee In On the day following

4

issuance of the Quaries' "goirective, Lieutenant General D L. Put: directed Lieutenantnderson to assemble ar. ad hoc croup to consider possiblepace contributions that would counter the effects ofn world opinion, Braced by the noted nuclear physicist. Edward Teller, the proupepor; which included in its recommendationseries of spacr orobes and moonuggestion that Thor boosters and makeshi: second stages be usee toound satellites a; an earlv date-1 The recommendation stemmed from Rand Corporation studies summarized for presentation tc the Teller Committee.

presentation o: the Teller Committee findings andorce recommendations to the Armed Forces Policy Council?ively dise-tis*ion within thai body. Rand's proposal to use Thor as an interim booster evoked considers: enthusiasm. Airssistantcrner, sncouras by the optimism o: the meeting, ormal memorancumne Secretary of Defense one week,later, onovember, elaborate on the Tncr-boosted satellite scheme, riorner emohas izedhor-bocsted interim reconnaissance vehicle could be operational oy

hereas theL program had been so affected

by earlier funds shor^es cba:9 or0 sesnsc to be

its earliest possible launch date. (Neither the Atlas nor theL reconnaissance subsystem could bi: ready) Horner reported, on the strength cf the Policy Council discussions and presentations to the Council,ombination of Thorodified WSpper stage couidcund reconnaissance deviceSO-mile orbit. ^

Concurrent with the Horner recommendation, Rand circulated the first written discussion of its proposal for an interimsystem basedombination of the Thor booster withobee-derived upper stage used in the Vanguard program. Advance co3ic5 were distributed onhe cay of the Horner memorandum. In addition to use of Thorooster, Randechnique of spin stabilisationhird-stage, camera-carrying element cf the system, (The concept had been tsc by Merton Davies, one of several Rand scientists who contributed to theand Also suggested abandoning the WS UTL readout concept for the interim system, ode o: payioad deboost and water landing tc permit recovery cA the entire third stage.

Even though the Rand proposal was new to many who first heard it int embodied elements of several earliereach prompted either by desperation at tne inadequacy

tflfl j

is Ol

TOP SEpWTT

of the financial support fdT the satellite program or by misgivings abu some of the technical details. The basic notion ofallistic missile with an Aerobes upper stage had originated a: Wright Fieldhen it was proposed as the Air Force alterna-:ive to Vanguard. In thatombination of Alias with ar Aerobes upper stage had been suggested as the best means ofelatively Urge scientific satellite into orbit. The use o:ather than readout techniques had been suggested, and studied, at leas: as early asc, when the Ballistic Missiles Division had asked Space Technology Laboratories to analyse the technical aspects of such an option. Rand researchers bad examinee the prospc in some detail through tne summerhe revised version of Ranovember study eventuallyomplete family ci recover: satellites.

Apparently quits Independent of the Sand ane Teller recommea uons. General Electric onctober suggested to headquarters of the Atr Research and Development Command (and very possib.y, through other cnannelt. to the Central Intelligence Agency)pioneer1 system could ce put together using the Thoreneral Eiectr Hermes rocketecondhird stage builtorizon-stabilized recoverable satellite. One month later, on 27

November, General Electric followed up the initial suggestionore detailed proposal whichameraecoverable capsule suosystem. propulsion, commanc and control, program planning,anagement approach. Tne original came concept embodying an eight-inch lens capable cfoot objects had, by November, becameinch lens used with Microfile film to provide resolutionfoot objects. The capsuleearing an obvious likeness to General Electric ballistic missile reentry bodies then in development, was intend til to free-fall into tha ocean, at which point the ablative shell would crack and the recovercc elements would remain afioat encasecoam ruobt

Bail.

thvElectric scheme was further eiaiorattc

S brochure, it apparently had little influence on the program then being considered on the West Coast. Colonel W< A. Sheopard, Intimately concerned with satellite proposals. Later said he had absolutely no recollection of having encountered the General Electric brochure. igh General Electric official insisted that the iflca had been submitted tc EMD in In the frenzy of lheays following Sputnik many such proposals could have been received, filed or mis-routec. and forgotten. Additionally! the

0

3,1

RET

BMD group was by mid-November rather firmly committed to its

*

own approacn.

roach. undoubtedly influenced by the Tcil-jrKorner memorandum, and the Rand study, appeared as aplan for the acceleration of the entire W5between Lockheed and BMD officials preceded theof en informal Lockheed proposal onovember. n some cetai! immediately thereafter, particularlycourseecember meeting at BMD. Lockheed urpedof theL upper stage to the Thor missile asrogram acceleration. Taking issue with Teller Reportconclusions that the Aerobes upper stage promisedthan theL upper stage, Lockheed proposed asystem embodying element* O: the Rand-eroposecths Horner vehicle concept, and Teller committeefor schedule acceleration. Onecember, GeneralLockheed toormal proposal aicne such lines, andactuallv completed andathe-

comprehensive development plan. ^

One aspect of the Lockheed proposal was particularly appH-cablelandestine satellite reconnaissance an approach

revived at BMD early ir, December. Genera! Schriever'* November correspondence with Lockneed had included some mention of the

highlyrogram and Lockheed's success tn oushing that reconnaissance aircraft system to early completion. Lockheed had also called attention to its relatively recenthe developmentovert reconnaissance vehicle. Brigadier General O. J. Ritland,ice Commanderey figure tnevelopment, was, like Schriever and Oder, on familiar terms with R.sell and other officials o: the Central Intelligence Agency who were most concernedeconnaissance overflight operations. (Ritland hadevelopment under Bis sell'shus Ritlandrincipal in early December discussions between Schriever and important policy figuresashinjtcrj U cf ths Central Intelligence Agency. Dr, Edwin Land cf polaroid Corporation and the Boston University optica! research laboratory {Lane had alioember of the Technological Capabilities Panel cf the Office uf Defenser. J. R. Killian, and Major General A, J. Goocpaster, That group quietly considered tne political and technical aspects of the satellite reconnaissance problem and concluded that me best course for the nation was tcvert crcgramtheL vehicle. The combination was generally describee

:

fe

th* Tbor-HttStlar, ththepper stage being derived from tneotor originally designed for tht "powered pod" missile o:3 Hustler bomber. Much later, tne upper stage acquired the mere lasting name "Agena."

Concurrently, on tht strength of detailed instructions from General Schriever, Coionel F, C. E. Oder began drawingevised 'Second Story" cover plan based on staging an "open" Thor-HttStler scientific satellite program to cloak reconnaissance over-flights. In the sense tha: Killian andere spokesmen for the White House and would undoubtedly be able to commit the administration to supper: such an effort, their acceptance of this scheme shortly before Christmasonstitutes an unofficial but highly significant endorsement. Bis sell's agreement, and acceptance by the Central Intelligence Agency o: the covert program approach, closed the loop. *

Oder's modified "Secondroposal involved the creaticn of an interdepartmental reconnaissance system coordinatinghich would secure approvalomplete covert operation,olitical action plan,omprehensive security system, and cecidr how to handle public information aspects o: the activity* The Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, and Department of

ihe Air Force were obvious participants, The key element was to

m

ery tight security wrap around the reconnaissance phaseoncurrent, highly-publicized scientific satellite effort based on

the Thor-Kustler combination.

The BMD-Lcckheed proposal of an "open" Thor-riusiler reconnaissance sateLlite reached the "officialtage iate in January, after the covert approach had been approved in principle but before any special measures had been taken to put i: intoanuary submission, somewhat refined, was transformedormal request for amendment of the basicL development plan and sent forward to ARDC and USAF Headquarters on Z3 January.he highly enthusiastic support c: several of the most brilliant junior members cf the HMD etsffj who consideredver. obvious--moans o: accelerating the reconnaissance satellite program and therefore vigorously lobbied for its acceptance- '

Tr;us both an "open"overt program were being con-sidered. in different channels, by lateonth later both had beent the lower echelons. They were obviouslyd one of the difficulties faced by sponsors of the covert approach during January was subduing the "open" plan. For practical purposes, only :he covert programeal chance

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ebruary, the Secretary of the Airm asked in* Secretary of Dcier.se to approve the Thor-Hu$tler prop ram originally suggested the previous November and now formalised as Program IIA. Two days later, President Eisenhower directed that satellite, ballistic missile, and ballistic missile defense programs be mutually accorded the "'highest national priority." I: the covert plan was to go into effect before anrogram received approval action would have to be rapid and effective.

Although the details still were not firm, General Schriever was by then convinced that the concept oientralAgencycientific-satellite Thsr-Hustier crcgram was entirely valid, He felt that the best way out ci thempassv was to disapprove Program ILA on some plausible grounds and to authorize developmen;ecovery capsulefirst step" toward manned space flight, actually carrying or.v>:a- IIA'* under cover of the recovery capsule program. The missing elements then inciuded Defense Department approval,with the Central Intelligence Agency on participating and support arrangements, and formal Presidential endorsement. LesSe bui nevertheless important uncertainties included an appropriate manaijemeni scheme, securityersonnel arrangement

* i

The pieces began to fall into place by late February

Onh of that month. Schriever informed Oder and J. K.

Carter of Lockheedorthcoming directive from Defense

Secretary McElroy would disapprove Program (LA, put would

concurrently authorise use of Thor with the WSpper stage te

lest airframe components and toecoverable capsule

biomedical program. (The memorandum had actually been written

10

by Bissell. Ritland.and Sheppard.)

On the basis of such advance information. Schriever Inatructe Carter to assemble "black" estimates on system specificationsosts, mac: Oder re*ponsiti= for coordination with the Central intelligence Agency, and ordered transfer of payloac contract costs from BMD to the Central Intelligence Agency. (General Electric and Fairchild Camera had earlier begun working, under Lcckheec, or. the Program EA spin-stabilised payload.) The cover storv was trockheed contract to deveiop the "biomedical" capsule.'"

An unrehearsed complication was the injection of the Advance Research Projects Agency |ARPA> into tne icneme. ARPA had beer proposed the previous Decembersuper agency" which bythe various military space system Oevelopmenn would eliminate interservice rivalries. Onebruary. McElroy formal.-

aooruved the WS liTL program acceleration reccrr.mer.cec ir November

but also specified tha: it would conducted underirection.

ARPA, although tr.eoreticaiiy functional, actually pes lessee neitne:

o-rson.-el nor facilities at that point. Nevertheless, oneoruir*

the newly named director of ARPA, R. W. Johnson, signed the key

WSdirective thatitland, and Sheppard had written.

The paper disapproved development of the proposed interim WS il'L

recoverable system (Programut authorized the Air Force to

use Thor boosters for test firings of the second staae WS UTL vehicle

for engineering tests and for biomedical experiments in support cf

12

manned Spact flight objectives.

Some confusion cnaracterised proceedings during the latter part c: February and tne firs: two weeks of March. Of considerable importance was the fac: that Oder and Shepparc had gradually develcpe: reservations about the wisdompin-stabilisec'.isar.cr vehicle. As early as le February Oder had urged General Schriever toreliminary stabie-oody approach, suggestm; thai both the stable body designamera configuration proposed by Uek Ccrpor; nor were improvements over the spin stabilizator, and tne Fairchild camera then being supported as part o( Program OA. Additionally, Air Force heaccur,rtersarly March advised BMD thai the

Thor-boostedissar.ce test vehicle" approach had over, endorsed by'the Department of Defense and lha; forma.plan* for an operation called "Nightshe proposed nickname for early Thor-boostedaunchts--should oe drawn up for eariy submission to tne Air Force Ealltstic MiaiUeThe "Nifhtahlft" proposal had been devised within the Air Staffeans of obtaining early Air Fcrcc entrysatellite club" that still was limited to the Navy Vanguard and the Army Explorer. Unaware of the schedules covert program.fficials wereonpermission for launching somethmi _ . by the Air Force; whether itssar.ce function orscientific" satellite carrying odds and encs o: instrumentation seemed of little consequence.

Once circulated, the JohtMOS directive had the effectGeneral Schriever: tt made "programystem cesiynccdevelopment and covert op-ration. Johnson's letter hadas well. The BMO specialists who hadthe scheme of "interim satellite reconnaissance" baseduse of Thor Boosters andL upper stages wereaback. Innocent uf -the "cancellation" was but

the first and most Critical step in what was to be an accelerated

covert program, and convinced by logic that lfprojrarr. LA" was the

most sensible approach to an early reconnaissance satellite, they

were apnalied by johnson's ruling arc by the unprotestmc acquiescence

o; responsible air force officials. r two hsd ar. ink sins c: what

had actually happened, but not until they were inducted into the covert

uperatton as much a$ is months later were they sure of the rationale

14

fcr the moment, they had no outlet for their distress.

schrieverder were meeting with centra: intelligence agency and lockheed representatives on the afternoon of Z$opy cf the johnson directive first reacned bmd. they completed arrangements to inform general eicctric and fairchilc cf what was afoot and reviewed the preliminary bmd analysis of proposolj for camera, and vehicle subsystems earlier submitted under "program iia" auspices. both the technical approach and the manasernen; ^attsrr.^racuany taking snap*.

four distinct proposals for vehicle-reconnaissance system development had emerged from the frt>2ram IIAlockneed and ranc botr. favored spin stabilizatior.airchild transverse panoramic camera with film crivc synchronized to vehicle rotaticn rate, lockheeu, however, urged thatallistic-missile tvpe nose cons be recovered, while rand favored

4c

e

recoveryM entire orbital vesicle. Bothcof Fairchild camera* capable ofO-foct oo.iects.

Genera! Electric and ltek proposed stable-body Vehicles carrying panoramic cameras. Genera! Electric thought ground resolution ofeet could be obtained, -tek, thai seven-foot resolut; was possible. General EUetrlc paralleled Lockheed ir. favoring date capsule recovery, while ltek supported the total-vehicle recovery concept originated by Rand."

ltek had come into being in, principally through the efforts o; RichardProfessor Duncan McDonald (Boston University's Physics Researchnd A. W. Tyler (EastmanS. ltek acquired the .personnel and facilities of the Physics Research Laboratory with funding support provided by the Rockefeller interests. Boston University had long been uneasy at the transition occurring ir. the Physics Research Lab. which had become more c: an industrial research facilityampusthrough th* instrumentation of contracts largely with the government. Tne resignation of Professor McDonald, who had beer, the chief figure In iaooratory activities for some years, cecided the University to withdraw from the field. The resulting arrangement, by which ltek acquired the laboratory, equipment, contracts, and personnel, madeery strong contender for-new research and cevelopment contract awards, the company having assimilated {in Colonel Oder's judgment) "some c: the nation's best camera people, ltek personnel had directly participated ir. the development of the balloon reconnaissance cameras as wall as Inamera progra

That basic disagreement extended into the design of theL (Samoa) vehicles: the eventualecoverable oayloec includedcamera,ncluded provis for film-only recovery.

in the opinion of the BMD analysts, the choice between spin

stabilization and stable body configurations should be basec or.

earliest availability, and spin stabilization appeared to have the advantage- Either the General Electric or the Itek system was adaptable to thepper stage if the entire stage were Of the lot, theinch focal length camera design seemed most promising in terms of ground resolution and growth potential. Itek also appeared to have the most attractive research facilities, the former Boston University Physics Research Laboratory,^

inal decision could be taken in technical matters, certain critical management items required disposal. Most were satisfactorily arrangederies of meetings between It February5 March, e Central Intelligence Agency was charged with Security control, and thus with principal conduct of covert activity as such. Bissell. as the responsible official in the intelligence agency, was obviously Ln needvery knowledgeableL mar,"

m

to assist him: Schriever and Oder made available Oder's assistant. Captain RM C. Trua* {United Statesnder coverruax assignment to ARPA. The intelligence agency agreed to brief both General Electric and Fairchiid on the covert program in advance of

formal notice to Fairchiid that the IIA program had been "cancelled. 11

top s;

order is establish the proper "black" environment, i: would be necessary to overtly cancel the Fairchild agreement and tohe General Electric effort toward developmentbiomedical' capsule.

With receipt of the Johnson directive, one other step became possible: the Central Intelligence Agency or.arch laib assignee the code title Corona to the covert program.

Bissell arranged with the proper Washington authorities to delay circulation of the Johnson directive until Fairchild and General Electric could be advised of the background factors. BMD had agreed to pay Lockheed the basic costs of tne "cancelled" IIA program as they involved these contractors. Officially, BMD would pay "underince all three firms had proceeded or- Program IIA on the strength of informal agreement only."

Aarch meeting between Bissell and. in Washington, confirmed the earlier BMD decision lo use the "Hustler* (Agena) upper stage for Corona rather than the Aerobee stage from Vanguard, lt was also agreed that Bissell'* interest ir.ouldormal assignment to keep CIA Chief Allen Dulles briefed on the progress of that "major collection system." Ever within the Cem: Intelligence Agency. Corona was tolosely held secret.

The choice bothechnical approach and cf specific con-tractors, duringiegree o: further confusion. The starting point was the Program IIA arrangement.esult of preliminary actions during that January, Lockheed's verbal commitments to Fairchiid (camera subsystem) and General Electric (reentry body) were along the Lines of the Rand proposals

andrevaiiing CIA opinion. But continued expressionsMD unease plus advice from Central Intelligence Agency technical specialists who had their own copies of all the proposals apparently caused Bissell to have second thoughts. Onarch, 3is=ell told Ritland that special meetings were scheduled forndMarch to discuss the advisability ofback-up" alternate to the primary rair^hiic-General Electric spprcc-h.

Th* group that met at Cambridge, Massachusetts,aTch included three members o: the Pres:der:'s Science Advisory Committee, two Central intelligence Agency officials (includingij. three BMD officers (Ritland, Oder, andnd Dr. Herbert F. York of ARPA. lis iask--decided only one day earlier--was toback-up" contractor. After hearing detailed presentations from Itek, General Electric, Fairchiid, and Eastman Kodak, the panel concluded that

1

Itek was best qualified to develop an alternate camera system for

TOPS^CRET

iurthor, the croup recommended ir.s'. lie*ck-

L O. 1

heed with assistance from General Electric, if needed, snOuldas-jel-stabili^ed vehicle with Lockheed having system* engineering and technical direction responsibilities.

The differences between the Itek proposal and the "primary" Fairchiid camera subsystem compelled attention. Essentially, Itek wasnch camera with theoretical resolution on the order ofeet, while Fairchiid wasameraoot resolution. Principally because of that difference, the Central Intelligenceate March began to look more favorably or. the Itek than the Fairchiid proposal but continued to advocatedevelopment of spin stabilized and stable-body techniques. The first formal project plan prepared by the CIA (on April)development of the Fairchiid camera in the Ranc-cor.ceivec spin stabilized oroital body, tabie-body Itek camera following on somewhat later. reflecting Oder's notions, and with the support of several CLA technical specialists now engaged in the prograrr urged reversing those priorities. TheApril draft was revised two days later, but did not merely propose allocating major emphasis to lisk and the stable-body configuration: rather, it provided for dropping the spin-stabilized configuration and the Fairchiid camera altogether.

to:'

thai decision, which surprised oder and rttlandhad reservations about the wisdom of concentrating all effortingle line ofas the productubdued but intense three-week debate that followed the le march meeting and was not endedecond revision of theil draft program directive passed bissell's scrutiny and was forwarded to general goedpasier on lb april. the debate had two facets. oneuestion of technical policy- was it wise to abandon spin stabilisation while there remained considerable uncertainty about the aehievabuitytable-body photographic satellite" there was no real doubt about the feasibility of using spin stabilisation, although the quality of the resultingwas far from certain. the second issue was whether spin stabilization might notood cover for she developmenttable-body satellite, concealing the potential c: the latter. colcnel oder held to the vitw that pursuit cf tne more conservative fairchild approachimitedut oder, one of ihe original proponents of the itek approacn, wa* not inclined tc press the issue unduly. tne re was general agreement between bmd and cia technical specialists that the ltek propcsal had greater technical appeal, that itek had better facilities than fairchiic (cr generalnd tha: spin stabilization had inherent disadvantages when

TOP SZPffZ

coTD^reG to body stabilization. Sissell fait that th? IteX approach woulc cost less, and be was particularly impressed by the greater resolution potential and performance growth potential of the lie* camera- There is little doubt that reliance of the ltek approach on the availability of the Lockheed upper stage for WSadinfluence on Oder's (and Schriever's) ready acceptance of Sisscll's judgment: continued development of what was to become the Asena was essential to the eventual appearance o: the WSn which Air Force space hopes still were concentrated. The factors thatomplete reversal of judgment betweenarch andpril, when President Eisenhower verbally approved Biwell's io April proposal, were far more complex than moat of thosevis. approved :h= decisionealir. -n.

arly April,echnical approach, costand an Opt rat in; plan were in existence. CIA Director AllenDulles, Defense Secretary Neil McElroy, and Presidential Science Advisor J. R,hen presented the matter to President Eiser.howe personally for final approval. Their sponsorship was convincing, and Corona received the President's endorsement. Tne rationale was

However, onlyaunches were initially funded, as against therososed in theoril Corona deveioomtnt oian,

thM rtccr.nii5ai vital io national security. thatrogram: be expected to continue indefinitely, and that the Soviel Union would not countenance an "open" reconnaissance satellite operation. overt operation concealedloak of scientific research would permit the United States to deny the actuality with sufficient plausibility to satisfy sensitive neutrals and timid allies. At wont, clandestine reconnaissance would be feasible until the_ syalem began initial flight trials, and by that time it might be possible to confront the Sovietsaithus nullifying political action to prevent WS. operations."

4

Management of Corona proved complicated it only because it involved so many agencies and contractors. PA reviewed and funded tbe overt effort, insured adequate support, arranged for sea recoveryavynd kept the Defense Department idviee BMD developed and provided all hardware that could be relatedover or supporting program and provided facilities and personnel for launch and track operations. The Central Intelligence Agency defined covert program objectives, established and policed security policy, mcintamec liaison with the Department of State, developed the covert hardware itemi. and insured that covert and over;were compatible, Lockhsed Missile Systems Division (under contract io both the intelligence agency and BMD) itmc as techtcal director of all equipment but the camera, capsule,and supportdeveloped the orciting upper stage; and checked out everything out tht Docst-r, camera ind recovery system. Itek ceveloped the camera under subcontrar: to Lockheed, and Genera! Electricfsr the recovery capsule. Douglas furnishedhor booster

BMD was satisfied that the technical evaluation nad been adequate and that the program was sound. The nextas to limit proptr letter contracts t; Lockheed as quickly as possible so that

Launch schedules (tentatively ^pprovec on ISave sortie expectation of validity. The principal tasks connected with this asoect of the Coronare completeday, with Lockheed's issuance of summary work statements to both General Electric and Itek. (Itek promptly subecntracted with Fairchiid for the manufacture of the camera itself,)"

Another critical requirement, the provision of working space where Lockheed personnel could actually assemble the "black"into operationally ready satellite vehicles, was also satisfied between April and July. The agreed operationalengineering flights followed bylights followed by "iCv.irszflc engineeringa legal and plausible requirement for tight security, particularly in stabilisation technology. Much of the con, moreover, could be concealed in such items, end many of the basic components could be manufactured and tested 1'openly.11 For the remainder, Lockheed decided to conduct operationseased

mam Lockheed faciiitv, Lockheed explainedthe work

bfrwas company proprietary anc

thus was not to be disclosed tc anyoneother sections of Lockheed. ScmeT were hired, but most of the oooulatior

I wfaai came to oe known aa tee "Situn* worni' wai transierrec fron tht LoskbeOd payroll, although all employees were actually

paid br|*

Conscientious Air Force plan: representative* andpersonnel presented an early problem, derived irom themoving expensive equipment and materialslace that hsdexistence, but the Corona people devised "secondary"wnich satisfied inquiries. There was nc real needdeceit, chiefly becauit no one would expect Lockheeddoing work inand no connection

with any space projtct*. The "company proprietary" explanation satisfied others who were curious* Within the company Itself, pro-lenged absence* of personnel wcrs explained by referencescompanylftk, Genera!ani Air Forcehs were kawraerjonne.t associatedw> naissar.ee iragrtms made onlv thtisits to the "Sfcuafc WcrKi. *' Even tht wives of the Lockneec employeesnovr where their nussana* actually werked.urther step was th*f assembly work at Lock-need; moat workersc ininrle, *ejmtn;tc phase of tht vehicle asi^mbly process.'"

Ir. July, Lockheec official* issued antatement tha; the recoverable payload for IhOr-WSlights would Include "in addition to normal instrumentation recording devices for the advanced engineeringesponsibility for these device* wa* assignedpecial department with the explanation that e existinc shortages of space at the Palo Alto planthe sensitive nature of theade it necessary to expand into new facilities. "Instrumentation development'* and the assembly and checkout of nose cones and payloads would be concentrated in thefacilities.' Lockheed officials cautioned that extreme project secrecy waa essential to prevent an anti-vivisect.onisi outcrv over tnt scheduled biomedical experiments. Fully cognisant projtci penonnel also understood that the phrase "recording devices" could be used to explain the presence of camera equipmen:biomedicat an explar*atior. became necessary.

A special cryptopnpUc teletypewriter network linked BMD to the Lockheed 'Skunk Works'1 and those facilities to ClA'tacuarters.

CIA security specialistspecial briefing ^form to be signed by ail military and contractor personnel exposedprogram oetails^ Permission to brief additional personnel on Corona

SEC

re

ree carried in til of the "advanced enrinhering"

satellites and some of tne "biomedicaltest vehicles. Both Air Force and Lockheed personnel appreciated thai new problems might arise when it became apparent that all of thelights were not actually returning biomedical specimen*.

One of the basic difficulties in the program was tha; well-meaning people convinced they were advancing the interests of the Air Force insisted on tinkering with one or another aspect of the "open" Discoverer program. Generally, the Corona managers at SMD were able to limit the ill effects by calling on the Central intelligence Agency to apply quiet pressure to the cani-er spots. Sometimes it proved necessary to brief one or more people who had

no role to ulav in Corona itself but wfcase influence was necessary

eep events from unfolding in undesired directions- asewas the5 Department ot Defense suggestion ofThor missiles and using all of the Army-developednce Jupiter WM essentially incompatiblestage, the danger to Corona was obvious: at leas:

a nine-month delav ir. stneduLes, re-engineering o: payloads, reduciio in orbital weights, and reliance or, non-standard boosters. In this

fo

recues: that the CLA officii! take action "a: the highes: possible level" to insure that the suggestion was withdrawn before i: couldatter of Apparently the maneuver was effective,

tor no more was heard of that particular gem

Sometimes was difficult to decide whether to stifleassistance or to craw secondary benefits from it. tne affair o: the highly respected reconnaissance exper; who,Shcpparc put it. was complicating matters by "goingpeople wc snoulc be doing the things we ir. fact arethe fCoronaaffair had its useful aspect, however,

since it was inconceivable tha: one so highly placed colic be unaware of actual reconnaissance programs, and his ill-timed propaganda must aiao haveonvince many that the Air Fcrce was indeedon WSather than the Thcr-boosted satellite*

Another interesting problem Colonel Shezpirc encountered was that th* program director for the ThorIITL 'experimental andie*lH satellite vehicle kept "insisting tha: the over: part o: the system be desi^nea rationally to support ths over; missions." In th;*

pril. Genera: 5cbnwt: made Shepparc the Air Force CorCn& chief- ec witheconnaissanceiCr.ovct fr^rr. cirett participation because oi the danger tr.a: hts association withwould weaker, the Corona:

instance there was no alternative to making him aware of the cover;

clan. How else could one explain designing the satellite vehicle for

horizontal rather than vertical flight attitudes which were logical

for biomedical experiments but impossible for fiLm recovery purposes,

or why it was undesirable topecimen chamber when

the truthful reason was that the chamber in question must covertly be

27

made light tight.

The technical decisions which largely determined the future of the program for the next two years were made in the period from April through October, The key contracts were in being, at least in letter form, by the end of May: CIA with Lockheed, and Lockheed with General Sieciric, Itek, and Fairchiid, A: that point, ll appeared tha: reentry stability was the only major technical uncertainty, although engine test*, vehicle control, and guidance still were matters of concern. Tne recovery method had been selected (air catch, with water recovery following if the air catch failed for anyest and training program covering recovery aspects waa taking shape.

In actuality, the process ofecovery technique, assembling capable personnel, and locating equipment was much less difficult than it might have been. The basic methodology had been perfected four years earlier in the course of the Genetrix program,

the balloon recor.niiliar.ee operation that ended in February lP5o. Colonel Paul Wortnman. who later became the Air Fcrce cirector for Corona. had bean instrumental in devising1 capsule recovery process and with others who had experience in thatwas able to assist in reactivation of the flight organization. The equipment had gone into storage after the cessation of activity6 and essentially required no more than refurbishing to qualify it for re-use. The difference between hooking and reelingackage parachutedigh-altitude balloon andimilar operationackage descending by parachute after reentry from orbit was no: encrmoui.

In the case of Corona it would be most difficult to conceal the factapsulr recovery, perticularly if. as seemed probable, sev-ral hundred people were involved in interlocked shore, sea, and air operations. 3nefing such vast numbers on Corona itemedmpractical, so the air-lea recovery portion oi Corona became an overt element. Tne fict that some publicity on tne more ntwsworthv aspects cfccevery activity would provide additional cover for Corona--assuming that tnt "paefcece" itself could be adequatelyanother attraction.

CLO

Throughair amount cf uncer-tne-tabie pre-planning--BMD secured the authority toecovery squadron without hindrance from any other command. ontingentJ aircrai: equipped for air recovery was drawn from the Tactical Air Command, essentially complete with air and ground crews at least tn part familiar with the requirements of the original Gene true operation. General Orders activating the contingent li thed Test Squadron (Special) took effectugust. Initially, the squadron moved to Edwards Air Force Base to begin intensive training and practice. Both balloons and high-altitude aircraft were used to release "training capsules"etrieval. ew mrtttbf. in time to meet the schedules for first capsule recovery, the scuadror. was to move ttv Hawaii, the center of the planned recovery area. Other essentials, including tracking stations in Alaska and Hawaii as well as that at Vandenberg Air Force 3ase, the sea-borne

task force tr- provide an optional recovery mode if air catch failed,

-

lan forecovered capsule tohannels after its "white" recovery wars arranged relatively early. Theho should operate the tracking stations, particularly that at Kaenat, Hawaii, and the question cf how toshell game" that would let the real cr.psule vanish enroute to the mainland caused some

later difficulty, but during the summer8 nothing ol the sort

was accurately foreseen. ^

Of more immediate concernerious controvert}

between Lockheed and General Electric which threatened the stability

29

of program management. ? The apparentwas inabilitytwo to agreeork statement for General Electric,real problem was more deep-seated. During the early weeksGeneral Electrir had urged upon Lockheed and the Airown proposalseparate third stage--which Generaldesign and build. The proposal, much like that submittedOctober-November-January brochures, provedof design misconceptions and the difficulty cf matingElectric-proposed third stage to the Lockheed secondar. Air Force-Central Intelligence Agency ruling on thepresumably resolved the issue in May, again in June thefound their contractor* at odds. To tne Coronaappeared that they were jockeying for position, each

company attempting toiv^ra^le position for future program*ense. General Electric held chat Lockheed wtnted General Electric to deliver basic hardware which Lockheed would thereafter encir.-er, modify and install: while Lo=Kheectha: Genera!

TOP S

3-

Electric wanted toealed package for Lockheed to load and launch without question* Rather bitterly, each contractor pressed his viewpoint on the agency and the militia division, Noi until late June was the issue satisfactorily resolved and the respective roles oi the prime and the subcontractor defined in work statements acceptable to both.30

Lockheed, General Electric, and Itek designed their systems and subsystems basically ir. conformancehilosophy jointly agreed upon by the agency and tha Air Force, Of tht available technical approaches, that which offered the best potential for success during the period cf prospective operation was almost always adopted. Reliance on existing techniques or relatively simple extensions of tht current state-of-the-art was universal. Reliability through simple design rather than an attempt to derive "the Us: few percentage points is perfection cf product"onsistent policy, .Proceeding on this aasis. Lockheed nil ablt to report the total system design ready for initial review onay. design freeze onuly, and release of engineering drawings or.ctober.31 il indications, tneprogram was proceedingeasonable pace and withoutdifficulty.

1

mucS coulc no: be said for ail the program management aspects o: Corona, Starling aboutuccession of difficulties and uncertainties began lo plague Corona managers. In part they were the natural but nonetheless unwelcome offshoot?ightly scheduled program with unusually important objectives. Another portion, however, derived from the peculiar alignment of technicalanagerial responsibilities which saw BMD, ARPA,nd several high officials in the Administration sharing authority In particular, the ill-daiined role of ARPA in the Corona program proved troublesome-

As ARPA had assumed control oi the entire military space effort curing the summerS, lhe tendency of that agency tospace programs toward objectives which frequently had not been those of the military served to complicat- management. as the Nations! Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA} gradually acquired control of the obviously "scientific" and "research1 aspects of theCc effort during the summerRPA both resisted that trend and attempted to create an alternate program which would give Lheignificant and lasting role in space op-rations. L funds provided the largest portion o:6 ARPA resources and constituted the most valid Justification for a

* V

T

9 ARPA budget, and the Thor-Hustler (Corona) program nominally Ml .under tne aegis of. ARPA's tendency to redirectL toward new objectives indirectly affected the immediate cur.cuc: of Corona itself, but ARPA'* attempt to exercise direct control over portions of the Corona program. Largely by manipulating the purse airings, wae considerably more critical. Finally, as the0 budge: cycle entered its closing phases, the matter oforrn of Corona into0 became af increasing concern. Ii Corona provedatter which could not be judged until the first satellite reconnaissance photographs were actually examined, its continuation was logical. The question of its continuanceover:matter cf whether cover could be successfully maintained past the period of "engineering"biomedical"sus itsrr.ttior.ighly secure but overt activity, had to

e= eventually.

Tht Original Corona approval of6 had beer, based onehicles funded by ARPA iromL program money. The Air ForcoCIA plan, however, calledinimum ofhots on the assumption of one-third successes and the needinimum o: four successful reconnaissance flights to provide adequate coverage

L

the Soviet Union. Ir- June, Colonel Sheppard had convinced Air

Force Secretary Jamas A. Douglas of the need to provide enough

additional money [through ARPAJ to keep ahead of the *'iead time

problem'1 and toontinuing flow of Thor bolsters and

Lockheed second uly, Douglas responded with an

open directiveexpanded procurement authority as

32

Sheppard had urged.

vehicle program thus constructed accommodated thecheduled Corona flights and two engineering or biomedical tests, asted onlyugust, when BMD learned of ARPA instructions that" program was to oe expanded byvehicle* acditicr.aL to thefficially authorized. (Biomedical

vAAthe

prcviso that "special zlyloadr o investigate and measure certain suspected spare phenomena" mighvlater benttaliv pr yvieed for seven rc&I biomedical payloacs in addition it thegrona packages. Its timing and tne factas then attempting to retain control c: the "Man inrogram tha: subsequently wen: to NASA, indicated? intended to use theS 1ITL program, if possible,ounter -weigh: to the announced NASA oiomedicai procram.

otal of

By virtue o: these and relatedheSprogram had riser, bySudget level (for

1 Of this total,

? of

Was shown ir. the currant proposed development plan

X. and the remainder was required for purchase of additional Thor and Atlas boosters. ARPA apparently intended a; |to go for biomedical research and|

not shown in the "open"

Least

long-lead items. Another

totals, was CIA money supporting "black" Corona procurements.

[rs this: figures, which" one participant flatly called "chaotic,RPA- Director Johnson in August identified

"open" Corona money, concluding that an additional|

ould see to the purchase of thecheduled vehicles as well as programmed engineering changes- He also suggested that CIAarger portion of the cost, arguing that the Corona effort

was principally for CIA benefit.

ctober, revised Corona program costs reachedtotal there Shown wasbulk cf the increase

arising from the re-esiimates by Lockheed and its subcontractors

Thepril piac approved by the President had contemplatedo:million for "black" hardware,

er the9 April} cost estimates.

Thor and Agena development and procurement,

reflected an Increase off"

on

had tctaleo

ARPA had cues;:or.sc the validity of the cos: increase,its size, and passed the matter to the CIA. Bissell, in his turn, was startlediolent protest, Citing the fact that the fundina estimates o: April, used in obtaining approval for Cor

ne told General Ritland tha: if McElroy,

Dulles, and Kiliian had been aware of the prospective costs inwould never have recommended the program tothe effects of having just been scored by Kiliian,Ritland thats] simply not

ARPA fundsCIA funds," Dulles, Kiliian, and

were slated to discuss the entire affair with the President :r. the immediate iut-re, hed it seemec probable that 11omplete cancellation of Corona will be considered-*'

Bissell concluded that Corona was being charged for undefin-Ebic development costs that actually belonged to the remainder o: WSreed tha: th* two programs be ciBer.gagac for funding purposes, and made seme rather unflattering references to "rubber] accounting systems" and "juggling costs." eparate message to Colonel Shepparc :ater tha: day, Bissell--somewhat iess emotional than had earlier been the case--said sadly that "all cf us concerned with Corona have some embarrassine explaining to dc,"

i

4

Apart from being thoroughly accustomed to substantialbetween early estimates and actual program costs, Rttiftlftd and Sheppard were less alarmed than 3issell because they were closer to and more aware of tne remarkable convolutions of the program during the preceding six months. To explain the situation to their CIA counterparts, they detailed program fluctuations and broke down the cost totals to show that changes in the level of engineering effort and In the scope of the program had caused price increases. Sensitive io the implications of reprogramming and aware of the potential for mischief implicit in *uch funds juggling as ARPA was then practicing, they added the cautionovert program could no: be conducted under requirements for constant ^justification and that it would be advisable to keep program matters in the hands of programn Iheir reply they alsoesume of Corona potentialurther explanation of tne worth of the basic Thcr*W5 ll'L programajor contribution tt the national space effort, *

Before the end of OctDber the problem had largely been resolved by the personal intervention of Schriever, Ridind, and Sncppard with key CIA and White House official*. The complicity of ARPA in the funds crisis and the cancellation threat received implicit confirmationubsequent agreement between Schriever, Killian and Biseell

that tne fiindilH totals provided by the Air rorce were reasonabl* and that henceforth the role of ARPA should beutilitywithout authority "to steer or affect But the basic suggestion earlier endorsed by Bissell, that i:dvisable to separate Corona from the balance ofL. continued to receive attention.

-ARPA nadreliminary step in this direction early in September, All reaction was not favorable. Colonel Oder, for instance, contended that program segmentation would craw too much attention toince the rationale for therogram was partly based on "engineering tests" of WS MIL upper stages. Oder also emphasised that once the Thor-boosted vehicleeparate "scientific" program, scientists would corns to expect the recovery of data whicn it would be quite impossible toounter argument, of course, was that continued association of Thtr* "ooosted satellite with thtffort wcuid leal inevitably to the conclusion tha: Corona flights were reconnaissance oriented. The fact that efforts to improve tht image of the United States space "program" had causedo be openly identified withce--and even glorified In tha;tended to eoler til aspects of the original program. The name "Sentry" given therogram in6 was compromising in

ovember, Bissell went around both the Air ForcePA to reach General Goodpaster, responsible for liaison between CIA and the White House,trong suggestion that the Corona flights be completely separated from the balance of the "Senirv program and coveredcientific satellite mission assignment. Almostpecial scientific committee examining the status of the entire reconnaissance program encountered again the problem of ARPA interference. Dr. Edwin Land made it clear to R. W, Johnson and R. B. Cesaro of ARPA that Corona was considered "an operating program toimitednd was not toubjected to or perturbed by Rtinkering; and that the actions of all must be primarily governed by security since exposure of the orcsram must be avoided at all costs."

There was slisht indication that the ARPA officials were impressed. They promptly proposed tbe deletion o: three of the scheduled biomedical shots and the additionSuper-Corona" satellite, essentially an Alias-boosted CflronA with an "improved' recoverable payload. In other channels ARPA people iiso suggested thai Corona be reoriented toward an electronic readout system ratherecoveryystem, (Electrostatic tape systems were great favorites with ARPA that fall; the basic WS- program

y

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suffered through the same syndrome.) Or. the whole, however, luct)

notionsoo! reception. Dr. Land, influential ir. both CLA and

administration circles, was particularly insistent thar the nation

take advantage of what was available rather than plan grandiose

37

substitute programs.

Notwithstanding the reaction. ARPA on Zb November officially notified ARDC that two of the scheduled biomedical tests in thes tier series were to be cancelled. No change in the total number of vehicles was immediately provided,hat followedeek later, upon Johnson's receipt of en officialior. from several ARPA specialises assigned to'stucy reorientation oi therogram.

Although the reatsr.ing behind ihe ARPA maneuvering was not entirely clear, i: began tc appear to these ir. Corona that the coir.ci-dtnet of rescheduled biomedical flights with the proposal for an-Corona . arge recoverable capsule, might be in ARPA attempt to justify developmentan-size satellite. Tnt original ARPA proposal of this sort, based on 3MD'l "Man ir. 5pi.Ce Soonest" (MISS) program of Junead been effectively overtar.cr. by transfer of manned space flight responstbilif.es to NASA. (MISS, not much changed, oecame Projeot

6 memorandum report forwarded to Johnson was largely motivated by new funding strictures directed from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Instead of the

recommended forL in fiscalht

jjfrom ARPA. In order to stay

wouic have to fine th? money for the remainder. The fact that no ARPA money would be available for Corona afternd that the Air Force presumably would have to carry or, the program from its own resources, prompted thoughtompletely neu program approach based on the transition cf Corona to an "open" bui highly classified Air Force program managed under theL *egis. Toward this end, there was renewed discussion of separating the Thor-boosted satellite program from Sentry,*

A succession of meetings in Washington took up the several critical issues arising from the latest ARPA actions, Lite on theDecember. Air Force Unoersecretary Marvin A. Jviaclntyreemorandum to himself, had Johnson's signature block typedts foot, took It to Johnson, and obtained the signature. The directive fcrmaiiyeparateL program,the nicknameo includeumber cf systems anth will be employed in the operation of space vehicles.""

Uncertainties concerning whLC ARFA would fund were eliminate! ir. the course5 December meeting curinc which the participants cecidec tha: eigh* Ccrons iirinf* would complete the ARPA development effort and that the remaimnj four Ccrona lights would require Air

Force funding. Bymemorandum to the Air Force Under Secretary two days Uter. Johnson confirmed the agreement and formally specified tbe research agency's intention of sponsoring onlyis-covererwo vehicle tests, three biomedicalight Corona launches.*1 The settlement was not reached easily, however, since first Air Force and CIA officials had to convince ARPAeadout program was not available to substitute for Corona recovery techniques. And there were interesting, sidelights: on the afternoon ofirective. Colonel Sheppardentagon staff officer busily attempting to rejoin Sentryop Secret program. Tht officer was convinced that ARPA had just succeeded in stealing an Air Force satellite program.

With the establishment c: the Discoverer projectormal, autonomous activity and with the open identification c: Sentryeconnaissance satellite, the conditions for conducting Corona were somewhat altered. Ths firstiscoverer launch wasonth distant InS, and this alto impelled thought for improving the cover story.

ense tht disclosure tha: Sentryeconnaissance propram tainted all aspects of the earlier development effort, including what was now Discoverer. Additionally, the international political

climate wa* even more hostile to overflight than formerly. Indeed, in the opinion cf Corona personnel "this hostility has manifested itself to the point where high government officials might cancel the CORONA program should it continue to be identified with such efforts."

Cover requirements were straightforward. ARPA participation had to be logically explained: if Discoverer wasilitary program why waa ARPA involved? Any intelligence community interest In or association with Discoverer had to be concealed, as did any military reconnaissance implications. Finally, it would be essential to obscure any direct connection between Corona (as Discoverer)ater Sentry vehicle with similar equipment. By the sameogical explanation for us*olar orbit was needed. Finally, cover efforts should satisfy professional curiosity by insuring Ma logical sequence of technical effort and the productionroduct having military tpp.icatior.."

The proper approach apptarec to be to release enough Inform a* Eton to discourage untidy speculation and to dispel any air o: mystery,lso seemed useful to effer "consistent but much more complete technical explanationsat leas: in part classified) to thenumber of persons who do not need to know the true purposeoro-s'rosition to guess what it involves unless they

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arc providedonvincing alternate explanation." Military and contractor personnel at the launch site, in the recovery force, and in related military and corporate organizations fell into the latter category.

Inasmuch as the Corona configuration and the Discoverer biomedical configuration would be outwardly indistinguishable, there need be no great concern for unauthorised observation and no real need for "closed" launching*, Press releases, by emphasising hardware tests rather than scientific probes, would help to prevent interference from "the vast number of scientists whoight to such data.11

fed i

Stales, ths: recovery wa* the only means oi providing visual inspection of equipment returned from orbit, that it provided the most accurate data records, and that it enabled the re-use of costly equipment. Folar orbits (which were somewhat illogical in thef the facilities available for equatorial orbit tests) were to beLP terms of ranee safety requirements and the possible exercise of the missile warning net. Thus the explanationdenbers Air Force Base was so located thatolar launch was possible, that Air Fc^rce research vehiclese launched from Vandenberg because of limited facilities al Cape Canaveral, and the fact that the vehicle passed over the Soviet Union was The relatively low and scientifically undesirable orbn could be explained on the basis of limited United States ability and relatively small boosters.

Military and contractor personnel who became aware ofof Corona cameras could be tcid either that they :" ; oubheince

because of the possibility if misinterpretation cr that they were usee as part of the stability tests, toontinuous record o; the attitude of the vehicle by photographing the horizon.

Ont major unresolved issue remained of those created by the ARPA-dtrec:ed program alterations of With the marked reduction in ARPA support, only eight Corona firings were covered by approved funds. The remaining four in the original series plus any follow-on firings had to be brought into the "open" program in some fashion. The choice was plain. Either the Air Force "surfaced" tht reconnaissance capability of Discoverer and conducted all flights following the eighth Coronaighly secure program but by meansnormal"orona would have to continueompletely covert element o: Discoverer.

gainst the possibility that continuation c: Corona might not bt approved, tne Discoverer officeevelopment plan providing forpen Discoverer-reconnaissance flights extcndir. through the last months By implication, Z5 Discoverer launches were thusumber 3itsell had recommended in December. Tht proposal, titled "Carrousel. went forward with Saury and Midas development plans submitted to the pentagon in It was partly tied tn with the current scheme re-elevet Sentry security to the To? Secret levelonducting the entire sate; lite reconnaissance tffort in that environment.

The title was invented byroject officer who was ratner cynically convinced that tne merry-go-round was but making another turn,

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i

mm

Air Force Undersecretary Macintyre directedebruary thai the Carrousel proposal be integratedevised and expanded Corona effort and funded within the total available le the Discoverer-Sentry program for However, the ques::or of whether the Air Force or CIA should be the Corona-Carrogram "sponsor" was held in abeyance.

The Central Intelligence Agency became quite uneasy a: the prospect that some portion of Corona might come tohe deliberations over Carrousel. Most of the Carrousel supporters,air share of the planners, were entirely unaware ofut it seemed apparent0econnaissance program couic not appear, fully pregnant, without causing the virginity of9 effort to be suspect. Sheppard and 5isse!Lp ir. particular, were of two minds or. tne problem, in the one instance, approval o; Carrousel seemed to invite disclosure of,the CIA role?lights. On the other hand, attempting toeconnaissancethrough allO1 when, inords, "we couic obviously accomplishight well have the same result. Aiding tc CIA's worry was the co:ii* jsior* that Asr Staff people were somew-r; inept in designing "cover plans" for Carrousel andthe customary scornrofessional for anerhaps exolamed much o: the imaged distrust.

By mid-February, theanagers were acr-ed tha: the least cancerous course was to continue the Discoverer cover

for Corona and dispose o: Carrousel as quietly as possible. The

*

situation was almost precisely identical to that o: the previous January, when Program OA had beenith what became Corona. And it was handled in similar fashion. Carrousel had no: been too wiacly Known, soemise for the development plans wasa>or problem. The formal disapproval of Carrousel was not pronounced until Asnl. however, As was inevitable, it lustified the action by citing reasons similar to those used in "cancelling Program IIA, moreear earlier- High cost and technical risk coupled with the small potential gain over Sentry were listed as reasons for noteconnaissance version of Discoverer.

A simplecf tht Discoverer program with provision for sufficient flightscover iv Corona operations was the most direct means of documenting the program and obtaining the necessary "white" funds. That course was -ompl.cstcd. however, by the AP.rA's February action in cutting the procram back toehicles and canccllin procurcmen:izr all additional Discoverers. Legally, under existing arrangements, funding had to come through ARPA.

i.

Through the CLv General Kttiand arranged an unofftcia.authorisation to continue work on all ofcheduled. Bissell assured Sheppard thai funds were1"emergency funds" came to har.c. drawr

irom the President's reserve* Of the total,div^riec

to the CIA to fund additional camera subsystemsRPA Uj finance re-ex3an= Ion of "Discoverer. M orce scraoed up a;

reprogrammtna, to cover the residual

requirement,

A means of effectively throttling Carrousel had to be devisee.

and it had to be convincing because, as with Programear earner, tne entirely logical notion cf using Discoverers to loft raco: nalssanee peyloada hadwarm of eager devotees. Shepct roacocted tne aniidotfi. sen;tssaye which could bs traniirrmeiirective from Air Fcrce Assistant Kcraer toacot Wiiscn. cn the Air Staff. Wilier, would then shape itormal directive to BMD. i: would Un-ultimately did} say the: Horner had beer fcriefed or Carrousel early tc February, that the los: anc risk cfe incorapatiblI with the gam overhed projectsnd that Carrousel was thereforeovec. But because of other attractions Disco*-'?

m.

DP S

was lo be extendedlights lastingnd sufficient funds were available.

Onpril, Air Force headquarters officially instructed 3MD to undertakellgh. Discoverer program- The ARPA directive legally required to authenticate such an expansion was issued onMay. thus closing the circle.

Tbe process had taken nearly six months and had been consist ently markedigh rate of program confusion. Although Corona schedules had since December provided forlights, and thusotal of IS Discoverers, the official ARPA directives at various times from January through Aprii authorisedorona vehicles (only eightither three or five biomedical flights, twopayloed satellites apparently intended for special ARPA assignments, and lt. indefinite number of proof-test vehicles. The Air Force Knew it would have-to pay for either four cr lix o:iscoverers, but for several months was unable to learn whaad in mind for the two "unaesigned'1 birds.

The9 program revision, however, effectively authorised tne extension o: Corona operation*0 andense indicated that the covert activity wouldontinuing program And desoite the near chaos of February and March, there was no

indication that the Carrousel episode had compromised Corona security. Thus continuation was feasible.

A final installment in the restoration of complete cover lor Corona was an interchange of lettersRoot. Lockneed vice president, and General Schriever. The maneuver was planned in Marcheans of satisfying curiosity that might have been aroused both in BMD and in Lockheed by the Carrousel proposal. The letters, classified Secret, handled through "normal" security cnanncls and seer, by any number of people at both sites, would in tne norma! course of eventsSecret'1 explanation for some Cf the peculiar aspects of the Carrousel episode.

Root's letter,pril, openedeference to "recent conversations" and the fact that the Sentry program was relatively well known in industryeadout effort. Root remarked (bat he bed been approached by several concerns proposingphotographic pavloacserverer capsule* for theoeriod, beforeame available. What, he'asked, should De Lockheed's position?

Sy the Lime tne SMD reply was ready, General Ritland had replaced General Schriever as commander. Ritland. ma letter lhat had been widely "coordinated' witnm 3MD, said 3MD had also

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Deer, approached, haduick reaif eat men; of die Discoverer reconnaissance potential, and had learned that tt would take too long to get results through Discoverer reconnaissance. He explained that available cameras were too heavy, that test schedules would not permit early introduction of photographic payloads, andlready has too many complicationsensitive nature without adding the probably unso.vable complicationeconnaissance

mission. "

By all indications the letters served their intended purpose.

(Thereast-minute scramble to advise Dr. Land c: Polaroid,

who had been listed as neadonexistent Mre-evtluation committee. 1

mat his name was being used as the authority for the "practicality of

Discoverer reconnaissance. Otherwise there were no important 4?

complications,)

Byhen. Corona had been established, Its technology applied to at mil equipmenl, Its cover perfected, and its tenure extend* into the future. The next task was to prove oat the actual system through orbital operation, recovery, and utilisation cf tne photographic product. That assignment, originally and optimistically scheduled for completion byccupied the attention of prorram managers for the next IS months.

light Program

The first attempt toiscoverer satellite, onas aborted by the premature ignition of the accessory rockets on the upper stage. Tnt second stage vehicle was severely damage ant the Thor so affected that it had to be withdrawn for major overhaul.

actually the second scheduled flightthe Vandenberg launch pad on? and successfullyan orbit with an apogeeileserigee oflthough somewhat more eccentric than planned, il represented success. No capsule was carried and no recovery attempted.

Discoverer II was also reasonably successful in establishing orbit following itspril launch. alfunction in tht satellite's timer caused the capsule to oe ejected halfway around tne earth from the plannec recovery none, lt descended near Spitsbergen. Although the Air Attache in Norway (aided by an eager BMD officer who quickly flew ista Os.o)horough search of the probaol-descent area, no sign of th* capsule could be found. The searcneri cid sigh: signs o: iki traffic in the impact Bone, however, and seme o; the more impressionistic program personnel concluded that tht fkrat-capffulc to reenter from orbit had been capturedussian mining partv. (For several months. Discoverer ^erssnr.el had

89

TQ^SECEET

il

fears thai the Soviets might -surface- ihe Discoverer LI capsule ir ihe midit o: an American publicity campaign thatubsequent recovery.) If Such had indeed been the fate cf the Discoverer II capsule,ot gravely disturb Corona manaeers; ihe missing capsule had earned "mechanicallectronic device rigfled io recordleal effects data.

Discoverers III and IV, launchedune andune, Jailed io reach orbital velocities because Agena thrust did not meet une slight carried another biomedical payload. bu: theune vehicle contained the first of the Corona cameras. Because of the failure to orbit, no cats on camera operating characteristics were obtained.

Predictably,uccession of partial successes and failures

touchedurry of alarm in CIA and White House quarters.

immediately after theune failure, 3MD advised CIA. that no

further launches would at attemptedhorough evaluation of

the upper stage difficulties had been completed. Special consultants

48

from Space Technology Laboratories were calied in to assist.

By early August, the upper stase propulsion and control tystems werehanged, a: were computer settings. the Thor.'s fuel was altered. Later that month Discoverers V

and VIorbit. In bothngus;

he Agene upper stage functioned properly but tnt recovery sequence was in some fashion abnormal with the result that neither capsule was recovered. apsule was injected into high orbit because of improper positioning when reentry sequencing began. onesomet circled the Earth in lonely splendor until For the purposes of the Corona program, the inability to recover was no more disappointing than tht fact that telemetry clearly showed camera failure to have occurred or. either the first or second revolution of the Earth in each instance.*C

At that point,halted the launch program once again toew analysis of ths recovery capsule failures.uccession cf exhaustive ground tests, involving both the capsule recovery sub-system and the camera subsystem, lasted well intohen it seamed feasible to resume launching*, Tht analysts had revealed several aresi where technical weaknesses existed: he reentry subsystem was oemg exposed to temperatures lower than those for which it had beennsufficient electrical powerr,ff provided to the re-injtctionelemeteredwas insufficient to establish the point cf reentry system failure.

: had beer, impassion tc track ihe reentry vehicle until parachute deploymentata or the capsule separation sequence wa*he reentry capsule had marginal stability characieris tics;elemetry did no: adequately indicate the precise pitch ancle of the Agena vehicle before capsule separation, The first flight items modified to correct such deficiencies left Lockheed for the laun; area ir. late September. Subsequently, ground tests revealed that the spinup rockets had been deficient in quality, and those originally installed had to be replaced.

One additional change of significance resulted from thet failures. Conceding that Coronare beinj. conducteigh risk environment andigh risk philosophy, EMDong-term instrumentation and analysis program as insurance against further failures. Although quick success would negate the usefulness ofrocedure, 3MD felt it justified.

Lockheed acted also to increase the electricalutput of

the satellite batteries and io instrument the recovery capsule much

m nt-Ce: ary. In part,

this was the consequence of the reportpecial STL study group whicheptember seriously urged that the program be halted to oermit additional engineering refinement of the Agena and the recover

capsule. I: appeared both to the 5TL specialists arc to thr BMO program managers that Lockheed had been overconfident and that the Agena-pius-capsuic section was not instrumeniec adequately. Lockheed, in the words of one scientist, had not "instrumented for

The next two Discoverer flight trials,ndovember, were as disappointing as their predecessors. Disccverers VI! and

experienced subsystem failures which preventedthe capsule. And in neither instance did the cameraproperly. Trie Ballistic Missiles Division againtests.

Not untilfter two months of intensive correctiveere the launching* rceumed. Unhappily, neither of the boosters used in the February flights (Discoverers

^ February) functioned properly and in neitherthe Agena go into oroit. Some additional complicationswhen it proved necessary to destroy Discoverer Xclimboct, show-rtng portion* of Vaa'desberf Air Force Baseresidual* cf the flight vehicle. Special securityquickly enforced protect the shards ofronafrom compromise.

Although tnere wii little reason for optimism BlMD nonetheless continued to iniilt that the program woulc eventual^ be successful. Ir. January, the production and Oifht schedules hid been expanded by four additional vehicles to accommodate tht newly approved Arcori mapping camera program, ar. Army-sponsored covert effort, raising the total of approved Discoverer launching* (Of these,ere io be Corona flights, four Argonnd the remainder biomedical and test vehicle flights.) CLA middlevastly discouraged both at the flight vehicle failure* and the parallel camera subsystem failures, was by March again discussing the advitabttity ofiequirements in the Discoverer program. Colonel P. E, he Air Force Coronj; manager, suggested that it wastoo earlyake and reminded lhe ngency that in their time the Atlas, Thor and Titan had all faced down demands for cancellation. 3MD. saidad com* toanic response to development problems that probably were inevitable.

-

leastrogram to rushed as was Corona .

Or.pril IPdO, Discoverer XI wen- into orbit but the recovery system again malfunctioned. The failure was particularlyecause telemetry indicated that for the firs: time tht camera had functioned perfectly, all le pounds of film passing through the subtyste

ir.t: tat recovery capsule. One product of the recovery iailureersonal message from the Air Force Vice Chief of Staff to Locfchee president urging "extraordinary corrective actions" and the personal attention of top Lockheed management to the elimination of defect* in the system. Lockheed's response was tourther round cf tests in environmental chambers plus diagnostic flights in which the capeule would be specifically instrumented for recovery system teiemetry.

Discoverer XII. carrying diagnostic instrumentation, ciimbet away from the Vandenberg launch stand cnut only criefiy. Errtttc hcricon scanner operation hadose-dowr, politico during separation of the Agena from the Thor oooster. thisubstantial delay ineiut scheduled launch wa* impose*rief halt permitted modification of relatively miner ccmpcr^nts. Gr.ceowever, seme CIA personnelthe suggestion that the low reliability ofause for cantiUm; any further effort or, Csroni past theCisaeli. who continually frught for pro;ram ccnttr-uinc- in the fact tf such odds, felt tha: theourse procaiiy would be torecovery eubayeiow perfection and t; acceptecovered filmrogram bonus rather than as an objective* Db

Two circumstances quite outside the Discoverer-Colons program made the situation unusually difficult during the summer The first wasay captureeconnaissance aircraft well inside Soviet boundaries and President Eisenhower's prompt cancellation ofperations. The second was the aporoacbing maiden flight o: the first Samos (former Sentrv)satellite, scheduled for September-October. eneral feeling in the Air Staff that Coronapoor man's" system which had sliiht prospect of achieving any real results. Weich: limited by thef the Thor booster, the Corona system wnelatively handicapped competitor to the Atlas-boasted Samos. Additionally, early Samos flights were intended to provide some demonstration of the effectivenesseadout system which, i: successful, presumably would eliminate concern forrecovery technique*, "inally. the high magnification cameraj being cevelopec ur.cer Samo* ir. ths late summer0 wascratedecovery system considerablvsticatec1 than tha: o: Corona :r. so-iral important resptets. On :ht whole, therefore. Samosonvenient alternative to Ccron* and one

mr mm

which gained in attractiveness a* Corona difficulties persisted.

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Because oi auch uctori, tha launch of Discoverer XIII or

0r. acoed importance. The second c; tne diagnos: flights procrmrr.ee into Discoverer hadinge on which tne rate of the future program possibly depended.

Launch, orbit, capsuie separation, and reentry were Although confusion amongs in the impactaerial recovery, the capsule was retrieved from themiles south of its predicted descent point. On the morningAugust,Ford ofcrona officeerse

: :

message acrossryptographic lines to Washington. t:tc undamaged*1 It un both the Shortest anc the most import zi tne thousands if communications over that network In ths previous

tw? fears.

Return c: tht tapsula to the mainland and lea ultimate disposiposzz ts rrnfirrr.attern laid down li months- called for capeult deliveryourier from 2ftdDt the courier return tov commercial airliner, and "the surreptitious exchange of the containerummy shortly thereafter. The nom capsule container would ft to Lockheedather odvisus route, while theapsule (re&tchactd so as not to resemble the origins left Sunnyvale,n unmarked truck for covert shipment

rR

to trieacility a; Rochester, New Examination of the real capsule would certainly disclose that itilm entry ar>erlure, so its concealment from all non-Corona personnel was vital if the cover was to be maintained.

BET

Although Discoverer Xlli had no film aperture and carried neither camera nor film, being fully occupied by instrumentation and telemetry equipment essential to the diagnostic mission of the flight, the recovery process was scheduled toull-scale dress rehearsal for handlinghot" capsule. But after the Capsule and its courier reached the mainland, the affair began toery bad mesocrama. The courier disregarded his instructions and. snouidering aside frantic protests from alarmed Corona participants, took theo ARDC headquarters for presentation to General Schriever. Along the way. the courier ignored previous agreements concerning the handling cf the capsule, having "unofficial! acquired theools needed to open it, and apparently tampered with the inner container, Lockheed engineers, whu ultimately got the container for examination, were unable to tell whether breaks in the capsule skin had resulted from the unauthorized tampering or had been caused by reentry and recovery shocks. Since film had actually been enclosedhe Discoverer XIII capsule, nc Ions-term

resulted. o-.'. ga: 3MD. after expressing elocuer.:

distaste lor the courier's peculiar behavior, promptly revised the

60

courier selection process.

Discoverer XIV, launched or. IS August, paralleled theof its predecessor ir. most important respects. Additionally, itorona camera, and the camera worked perfectly. Although the Agena had less than optimum pitch-down angle at the time of capsule separation, and the capsule actuallyiles south of the predicted impact area,'s were or. hand

mooth aerialfirst in history. d. this time the capsule handling process followed plans. Alter an overt return to Mofietltation, the Capsule was switched to the unmarked container and sentocnester for final processing of the film. The fact that press photographs of the XIV capsule werewas explained by siting the need for close examination of the instruments before they had bees disturbed. (In the instance o; Discoverer XIII, the courier had actuallyewspaperman friend cf his p'.ar.nec itinerary, thus making photographs Almost inevitable.)

Initial reaction tc the filmas unbridled jubilation. CIA lold Colonel Worthmar. the ohoto interpreters had called it

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"terrific* gtupaadouSi and had confessed Mwe areorthman's conservative report to General Ritland was tnat "apparently design specifications on resolution have oeen" The photographs were of "vary highndonus it develo that at least half of the frames exposed over the Soviet Union were cle oi cloud cover.

Detailed analysis of the XIV results showed0 feet of film had been recovered--essen:;ally all of theounds stored in tne cassettes. Something in excessquare miles of

Soviet territory were laid out for the photo interpreters. Resolution was conservatively estimated id beines per millimeter, and grou: Objects ranging upward* from Sr-foo; dimensions were

The drought was Although two fail^rei to recover and one camera breakdown kept ths next bfetch of "take" from photountil the recovery o:apsule onher was nc longer any question of the feasibility of any major element of tha Corona operation- covercr SVSE. moreover, had carried an improvedcalledand nearly twice the weigh o: film recovered from KiV. It remained in orbit ihrei days rather than one, provided roughly twice as muchquareave IC percent betterines per millimeter for

X VIII as opposed tc thefhe rscovcrec framesdentification o: some ground objects onlyeet on each side.0"

What remained was to improve the equipment and tne product still further. It had taken nearly two years to progress frym first flight to useful Intelligence, but in those two years significant changes both in the tochr.ical and the program status of Corona had. occurred, Kloreov-r. during the critical months0 when the Ccrcna pr^gri-finally passed the "make or break'1ariety of new factors hat completely altered the character of the national satellite reconnaissance

prog rami

Thert was no zoubt, however, that the crisis nac oecnhe circumstanceuccessful passage was due iargelv to the intel* Ugent perserveranceew key individuals who never lost faith, whatever the momentary discouragements. Chief among tnese was CIA's Sic sell, whei* intervention at White House level* was vital curing tr.ose periods when flight failures were promptinggestions that everyiocy concerned should forge: aL about Corona. Tne program manager? a: 3MD kept their enthusiasm high--SI least for public cur.sump::ordu: it was Bisiell who took the brunt of Presidential displeasurese calm assurance ir. the race of recurrent failures meant program continuance. On the Air Force

side, the determination of the successive Corona program directors. Colonels Sheppard anc Wcrthman, kept the effort alive in tne face of

general degeneration cf confidence at higher levels. And more than any other individual. Lieutenant Colonel C. L. Battle, Discoverer

Program Director, kept engineering efforts on the right course and

at the proper pace.

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NOTES OK SOURCES

Rpt cf the Teller Ac Hoc Committee.n USAF His: Div files.

Memo, R. E. Horner, Asst 5AFo SOD,uter Space Vehic.es, In USAF Hist Div files.

Rand RptAdv CyJ, Ar. Earivar.ee Satellite System.ublished in final form with same number and dateamily of Recoverable Reconnaissanceerry,i the USAF Spaceis: Div,; ltr. . Oder, Asst lorL BMD,orp.ubj: Recoverable Payload Packagt Study, in SSD Hist Div files: Agena.

Brochure: "Pioneer Strategic Reconnaissance Satellite for ICBM andith Recoverable7hich cites and craws from "Strategic Reconnaissance fornd 1RBM Using Recoverable9rochure: "Pioneer Strategic Reconnaissance Satellite for ICBM and IRBM with Recoverabler, H. W. Paige, GenMgr, CE Missiles anc Space Van Dept, to BrigCaa O. j.mdx BMD.o subj. memc., Sheppard. BMD. for theeasons fcr Deciding Against the General Electric Proposal ofS: meg,. Shepparc. BMD, to George Kuce-a, CIA.ll ir. Corona files. Notably, as Coi Shepparc pointed out. the GE proposal was nc: discussed at later meetingslthough Paige was present. Sneppard had some doubts about the reality of tn*an proposal. "whether i: had actually been pre-cated after having been tssembled somewhat later. I: would appear, however, that GE cicecoverable system in October and November but did not pursue the issue, at least within BMD. In any event, as iater became clear, the CE approach contained ma;or defects, particularlyne complexity of the three-stage boosterthe free-fall re-entry concept, the "Coating ball" recovery technique, and tne useow-reliability Hermes rocket.

o:

- Development Plan for Program

an SS:.res, LAC too subj: ltr.. Schriever. Cmar BMD, to

i.E. Root, LAC, o subj. in SSD Hist Div

Memo.. Oder,L Frog, to.

Schriever, Cmdro subj. in Oder

Corona tape.

Memo, Oder toorona tape,

. Ford. SAFSP,. Perry. Hist Div.ar.

memo.. Oder. L Prog, for the Record.ubj: Establishment of Thor-Boosted Phase ofL.

. Douelas. SAF, toeb SB.econnaissance Satellite, ir. SSD His: Div files; Corona tape; Rpt.et Rpt Nore? by BMD,rd files.

eb 5S, in Oder files.

in handwritLns of. Schriever, Cmdr BMD, ; in Ford files. TWX, USAF to BMD.

Memo,. Oder, forbubj: Rec< of Conference, in Oder papers; Corona tape.

14,

Oder forhronology.

W. Johnson, Dir/ARPA. to SAF.ubj: Reconnaissance Satellites and .Manned Spaceemo, Neil McElroy. SOD, to SAF,ubj: AFL Prograr. Reconnaissanceist Div iiUs.

Memo, Oder for1emo.C.E. Oder.og. to MaiCen. Schriever. Cmdr BMD. IS Feb 5S, subj: Preliminary Evaluation o: itek Proposal, in Corona files: Contractor Selection: memo.. Oder,.or File,eb SS. ecord ofTWX.. USAF io BMD.n Corona files: History.

Interview.. Ford, SAFSP. byR.L. Perry,5

Memo. Coi F. C. E. Oder, (or Record,orc oi Ccri*rcr.cc. :r. Oder Papers; draf: memo, prep by. Conway, bmjj7ecoverable Payload Proposals, in Ford files,

Draf: memo, prer by Conway, ape;. Leghorn. Prel, Itek, ..eb 5S. non Corona files.

Memo, . Oder,I_ Prog, for Record,ecord of Conference; memo, Oder for Record,arsubj: Record of Conference,ar 5S, both in Oder Papers; Corona tape: TWX, E. Cmdr ARDC to LMSD,n Schriever files.

gOTftM tape. memo.. Oder for Record. ubi: Report o: Meeting.emo. Ooer for Record.ubj: Report c. Meeting.emo. Oder for Record, subj- Report of Meeting,ll in Oder Papers; memo, Oder for Record, no subj, in Schriever file ideals with IL Martg t:ime. Ocer for Recori.ar 5S,ackup Reconnaissance Program for Corona. :r. Oder Papers: craft memo, Oder to. Schriever. Cmcr AFBMD,ubj: 3ack Up Camera Pre Davaloptaaat for Project CORONA, is Ford files.

ol W. A.he Record,o subj, inptrs: memo, Oder to Schriever,

The fact tha:isenhowerpproved Corona early in Aprileetingta, McElroy. ani KiiLiar. a

= rr.i|. Sissell (CLA] to.

Ri-Jar.fi (Y'Cmdrad mat WTO, 2issell to

. Sheppardct 5c. both in Ccront ccrres file..

Memo.ecord,taff summary: Corona Summary,Apr 5s. in Oder papers; Summary Work Stm: between LMSDnd LMSD and Itek,r. Oder ptptr

zrzri chronology.

pe;. O'Creen, TechDir. LM5D, to1 Jul SB, subj: Advanced Engineering Tests, in OQeremo.. Oder.rog, for Record.ubj; Implementation Step*, in Oder papers.

Corona tape; ltr. O'Creen- to genl distrib.emo.. Oder.. to. Sheppard.ep SS, subj;r.5n Ford file.

TWX.. USAF tol| (noted in action diary maintained by. Sheppard, hereafter cited as Sheppard in Corona files.

Sheppard diary,pr SS.

Sheppard diary,

TWXSAF to HMD.emo.. Vandcveer, SKD Ops Ofc. for Record.eport of Meeting with 7AC and ADC toRDCu! Information on the background ofrogram SCCurs "between the lines" of much Corona curresponcer.ee for thearted. asic technique ofL operation was aetailed it.open" plan for "Project Some additional Information was drawn from the memories of. Ford, John Pitts,. Cenec. allnd all COfBlxantL ir.erioc.

. ay,

. Mtmo,ppard. for Record.uit; Lockheed-Contra! Electric Relations, in Corona files. Contractor Selection. Sheppara. Sheppard, for Record, IT sub; as above, noted that cy sen: to CIA by. Sshriever, Cmdr ir. Sheppard pipers.

. . Carter. LMSD, toR.M. Bissell. CLA,o suOj. ir. Corona files.

' SAF toorona

TOP

r.is; files.

53. TWa. usaf toorona hist files.

CIA. Bissell) to BMD.ct Sc.IA (Bissell) to BMD. BMD to CIAc: 3S. Ccrona chronology.

Sheppardc: 5S.

Memo, R. W. Johnson, Dir/ARPA. to Cmdr BMD.ubj: Redefinition of WSmemo.. Oder, Dir/

WSrog, to. Sheppard, subi Comments on5 Sep 5e, in Oder papers: Coronapi,overrep by Corona ofc. in Ford files.

Memo,. Sncppard to, Schriever, Cmdr BMD. subj- Status of Scientific Advisory Committee forSatellites, ir. Sheppard papers; memo,. Bissell. CIA, to. Goodpaster. Mil Asit to the Pres.ubj. ?ro;ect CORONA, :r. Sheppard papers. Corona Briefing Portfolio,rep bv. Shepparc. la Corona files.

i.. Johnson, Dir/ARPA, toUGcnS.E. Anderson, Cmdr ARDC,ov

crona tape.

Memo...ax. ARPA Staff, to. Ch 5ci.rogram. Two version* of the report were prepared. One wai SECRET, and was rather widely circulated. Tha Other, TO? SECRET ir classification, contained very specific references to the Crrona ccmmunication network. Only five BMD people saw the TO? SECRET version. . Sheppard, BMD. t: CIA.

41. ., to AF Undersecty M.ovlonghand memo, in Sheppardr,. Anderson. Cmcr ARDC to Ass: VCS. subj: Projecte).

Memo, R. W. Johnson, Dir/ARPA, to SAFUS.ubj: WSrogram, ARPA; Sheppard

. Johnson, Dir/ARPA. to SAFUS. IT Dec 5S. subj Reorientation of SENTRY Program, in Sheppard capers. Sheppard

Sheppard

"Corona Cover

Corona Briefing Portfolio,heppard diary, emo,, Sheppard to MajGcn B. A.0ubj: CORONA Program Report; memo. LtGcnR.C. Wolson,SAF. toMa.iGer. J. Ferguson, et al ubj: AFBMD Presentation to Mr. Maclr.tyre.. Sheppard, BMD,sell, CIA,LA to BMDMD (Sheppard) to1emo,. Wilson.SAF.. Cheryh, SAFUS.atellite Reconnaissance,IA to BMD (Sheppard).MD (Sheppard) tojsel>).WX. USAF, to BMD.mendo ARPA, All except the las: two items are in the Corona corres files or the Sheppard papers; theaynd the ARPA Order are in SSD Hiflt Div files.

. Sheppard) to CLA.emo.. Sheppard to. Weaver.Root-Schriever. Schrievor-Roct Exchange of Letters, BMD to CIA. .res tc Gen Mgr LAC, to. 5chnevcr, Cmdro subj (copieseveral LACtr,. Ritland, Cmdr SMD.. Root.o subj (multiplewithin BMD).

. Evans (BMD. Bissell5issell toland (Cmdr6itlandnless otherwise credited, details concerning Discoverer program result* are drawnFpecial report prepared (orS USAF and Cmdry the SSD His: Div and USAF Hist Div Llais Ofc in

Chart: ummary (through Discs

TWX BMD to USAF,is: Div files;IA to BMD.c. BMD. Worthman) to CIA,uoting BMD TWX tc ARPA,MD. Sheppard! to CXA.9ll in Corona corres files.

Memo, . Oder.mdr Space Sys, BSD, to WSrog Ofcubj; LKISD Discoverer Recovery Report ltr, R. Smelt, LM5D, to Cmdr BMD.ep 5t. subj: Modifications Incorporated in Discoverer VII: memo.

F.S. Busard.c Prog Ofc, for sub; Report or. Meetingeptember; memo, . Weaver.isc Prog Ofc. for Record.epeeting.

I-E. ARDC tonDiv files; Chan, Corona Summary,

MD. Worthman) to CIA.orj. Summary. j5

BMD Div Plan; Discoverer,inutesh AF3MC mtg,MD. Worthman) to CIA (John90MDIAS CIA (Snerman) to BMDsgs in Corona ccrrei iiles.

Ltr. GenC.E. LaMfcy. VC3 USAF, toAC,pr 6C. noiubj, USAF Hlsi Div files; memo, LtColR.J. Fcrd, Corona

pre; cfc. forrrgrtrr.ay eO; Chart: Corona Summary._

IA. Biaaali) to BMD (hUjGanO.J. Ritland.hart: Ccrona Summary,

nterviews,. Greer and Col J. W, Ruebel,2t. Ford.ll by R. L. Perry.

5. SD (Ford) to CIA,orona Summary,

109

59. IAC.XA lo

6C. ..or Record,ubj: DISCOVERER Recovery Plan, in Corona corres file;MD (Worthman) to CIA,tr.. Moore,h Test Wg, to BMD. aboutubj:l Capsule Recovery Procedure, memo.. Worthman. for Record,ubj: Return of Capsule from DISCOVERERn Corona corres and msg files.

LA. Bissell) to BMD. Ritland. Cmdr]emo.. Worthman, for Record.ug 6C. subj: QuaUty ofemo, Worthman for Record.ubj: Quality of Take and Gangmeter; rpt, Program Report, Corona,n Ford files; Chart: Corona Summary,

Chart: Corona Summary,ot, Program Report, Corona .

-

IH THE MATURATION Or

Between9 and ISC, atellite rnitiioris were attempted under the program titlehe genera: pubhc wis told they were research ana development flights intended to investigate the feasibility cf orbiting, operating, and recovering several vaguely identified scientific payloads. The intelligence community most sincerely hoped that the Soviet Union believed tha: fable, because the entire "Discoverer" program was really an elaborate facade covering the development and initial opera ttoa of an interim reconnaissance satellite called Corona.

orona program had been conceived in respens* to the perceived urgency of satellite reconnaissancehen Char* wa- alight near-term prospect cf obtaining usefulfrcm ta* htfhly structured, unduly ambitious Samoa satellite program of the time.

Whether tne Russians believed that Discoverer was pretty mu whit ures publicly represented to be remained an intriguing questio withal onr that nad transient importance. The Russians may have ha "inside" intelligence by way of conventional espionage, cf course. Ir

that case the ouestior. would appear to be irrelevant. Any narc irJorma-non about the intelligence function o: the Discoverer program would be consistent with bits and pieces of data the Soviets had accumulated6 andparticular, whatever they retrieved from American reconnaissance balloons (Project Qenetnx)4nd from the2 in By nature, the Russians would be inclined tc suspect intent; any surreptitiously obtaineddata would have confirmed purpose; and the photo systems they had earlier captured would have clarified feasibility. Suspicion of intent and knowledge c: capability might be enough, even without support-ing intelligence.

But ii also seems possible that an intensive analysis of American purpose and capability might have induced the Russians to acceptDt face value, at least in its early years, and perhaps even through much o;year Corona program. First, i: was by no mean; obvious thatr anyone alee--could actually build andeliit* reconnaissance system based onorosifir-spscecr&fi combination andamirl-systsm technology. Comotred to other systems earlier proposed. Corona was tiny. The camera weighed only pounds, and the entire paylcac including film.

American intelligence estimates are often based on assumptions o: intent andhout capability. I: is only reasonable to credit the Soviets with similar habits.

TOP SECRET

Capabilityr,frc iactor. Although thev had uncamaged Genetrix camera systems to examine a: leisure (And. afternd had taken over most of the German optical and camera industry at the end o; World War II, the Russians nevertheless appeared to bt well behind. in that area of technology as late Corona, despite its small fist, was an extremely capable system. Its performance surprised even those who built tt and system oerformancc improved spectacularly once the early problems of Corona development had been overcome. From the Soviet viewpoint,amera system limited in weight by tht payloac capacity of thecombination could well have no operational significance. It would have been counter to good sense, as the Russians saw it, to have invested tn so unpromising an undertaking; they might logically have concluded, therefore, tr.at tbe Americans wouie not.

Finally, ther* was tht) apparent nature of the Discoverer prognr ii was on* of itvora!osc* programs LMiiisy composed In response to tht stimulus of Sputnik lattT, The mam thrust of

ih* Americar reactorputnik was to pour larger resources into

development of mum publicised missiles and military satellites--prmcipaliy Atlas, Thor. and Samos--andnvestther systems with littlemage' value. Space launches were widely pubhc:rtd:

many were failures. Administration officials, legislators, and military spokesmen concernedesponse to the Soviet "space threat" typically empr.asized the major programs, including Samos, and depreciated such "irrelevant" programs as Discoverer, Explorer( Echo, and Pioneer because they had no evident military utility. Most really believed that to be true. Given the notorious American habit of publicizing the goals, status, and (often) the details of major military programs, however sensitive, the Russians might well have considered any departure from that pattern so uncharacteristic as to be incredible. Occasional European press references to Discovererspy satellite"if rifled Utile except that spaculstloa was an entertaining diversion, reat many Americans who were privy to tho inner workings of thespace effort8r thought they were, having apparent access tc most cf the classified 6ettiis--never suspected Discoverer to be other than wna: it pretendedoe. The more one know abou; the inner working! of* RfcD process, the less likely he was to suspector ana program coulde conducted.

Perhaps ihe Russians wire similarly misled. The question was not likely to be answeredreat many years* But in any event, if the Russians were net completely convinced of the innocent

115

ould haveoviet triumph of sorts, end tht retrlevi data certainly could have been highly useful to the Russians, the los; caosuie represented no real threat to the security of Corona. Ii actually contained the instrumentation devices represented to be itsircumst-nce that was true for only three of the remaining flights in the firstiscoverer missions.

In six of the ten mission attempts that followed Discoverer II, the Agena spacecraft failed in one mode or another. The other four were marked by assorted malfunctions of film transport, orbiting vehicie, or reentry system. AH ten were failures.

Discoverer Xliiiagnostic payload ratherentra, an expedient forced on the program by the continuing missio. failures. Its Capsule was1 Various sspecx5 of the flight were marred by minor difficulties, and tne capsule itself had to oe retrieved irom the water because of confusion amen? aircraft sent to caich it during its final parachute descent,

several years IB suortlariety of misplaced reentry item Toward the end ofnd early in, bus anc pieces lurned up thousands of milts irom impact points predicted or- the strength of pood tracking data. One such case involving Ccrona is discussed laterhis chaper. In another case, pieces of a

vehicle purported to have come down in centra. Africaouthern England. Such developments tended to lupport the comforting assumption that neither the Russians nor anybody else had found the missing Discoverer II capsule.

rOPSI^ET

TOP SECRET

Nevertheless,rogram *uccess--the first of anyas also the first orbital object to be retrieved from space--by

anybody.

One week after Discoverer XIU w" recovered and returnee to Washington Ito the ar; ompan-.ment of enormous publicity that caused the carefully arranged cover plan to comeiscoverer XIV was launched, (i: actually was the fifteenth in the Discoverer series and the ninth toorona camera.) Launch, orbital operations, and retrieval were highly successful, both as compared to earlier efforts and ir. terms cf fulfilling forma! mission plans. The retrieved capsule provided the firs; reconnaissance photographs of the Soviet Union everrom orb::. When interpreted, th-y to rest the persistent legendmissile gap" andpprehension that numbers of Soviei intercontinental ballistic missiles were emplaced and targetec or. the United States.

Unless, of course, the Russians etc find Discoverer ii

ir. an episode reminiscent of nothing so much as4hen Thomas Z. Dewey was constrained by wartime security from making potentially devastating revelations about Pearl Harbor. Richard M. Nixon0 was constrained from revealing that the "missile gap" on which John F. Kennedy had earlier campaigned was an illusion. The Discoverer XIV pay load was retrieved, and its intell: ger.ee information digested, two months before0 electionended. Kennedy, who was also aware of the mission results, stopped talking about the missile cap thereafter. Bui some of his

ir.C,h Corona million was conducted ai Discoverer XVIIi. Ar. unsuccessfulaunch failure,amera mechanism failure marred the three intervening missions. The film recovered from "Discoverer XVHI" dispelled all residual concernoviet lead in the deployment of intercontinental missiles and provided the basic hard intelligence around which incoming President John F. Kennedy and his defense secretarytheir massive overhaul. defense priorities, goals, structures, and management processes.

supporters didnd Nixon's indirect assertions that tnere wa* no missile gap* had no real impact because he had been saying as much earlier, when nobody really knew, and because he hadadopted the policy of promising to enlarge. musiie pr.oeram in much the way Kennedy proposed. Ir. later yean, when theC findings became more widely known, there wa* surprisingly little discussion of the potential change in election results that might have occurred if the truth had been revealed.

TGPjdfr. CREZ

C' to Mural

Discovererhe thirteenth Corona, carried an imor

camera system known as C^ (and. of course, calledrime" in discussions). Both the original "C" and thead lensesaximum aperturesmch focal lengths, C1 embodied structural and engineering changes that somewhat simplified the earners System and alsoround resolution averaging abouteet, as comparedhc nominalee: of theamera. Theamera, flown en the firstorona missions, produced lhe images recovered in It saw no further operational use.

The C1 ;amcrsecun development innd had beer, adopted by theorona capsule was recovered, in ll was used on all Subsequent Corona operations until lhe newer C" ripie-primeM) earner* replaced it onh Cor rr^ mission, in Three additional flights withC1 cameras followed, interspersed with threeystems. By2 the combination of two C'" camerasinglestem was ready for use and thereafter ail Corona missionsstereo capability-

Between the appearance of CT and its eventual replacementhere occurred ratner more than six months o: debate about the

merits of two competing approaches to an improved Corona, aoout what was needed was compounded by uncertainty about the necessity of investing additional funds lo any furtherof Coror.a. 0 the reconnaissance community still held pretty generally to the assumption thateadout systems would Decome available for operational use1* in particular, promised to provide resolution somewhat better than that of Corona CJ, but with the further attraction of having near-real-time data accessibility through readout. t-reoecovery system with potent;ally much greater rcsciuiicr and area coverage capability than Corona,rogressing toward fiigh:23 operational readm. ss date. InO bothand!

entered

development, ana wr.iie neither was in anyorona replacemer.:

it was widely assumes tha: trie combination c: any of the high-resolutio film recovery tyt;emi with one cr bothhe readout systems would almost surely make Corona redundant,

reason tog was Predicated on the

assumption tha

various Samoa camera systems wouic reasonably well satisfy performance, cost, and schedule expectations then current. Nevert hi lose, there was some justification for improving Corona so as to

enhance tne quality ofhotography, the only Samos sytem certain to be available thai vear. had Onlyoo: resolution capability. Ye: neither large investments nor high risks seemed warranted, ever, though someheroject group, and others in the satellite reconnaissance community, had healthy doubts about the validity of expectations (or the several Samosystama. Finally, of course, there was the irrepressible instinct of the firms who were supplying Corona systems to propose advancement* and im-jrevements that might extend the period of Corona production

teV. and falrChUd Camera and Instrument Company had beer, involved ir.rcrr. its start. They were nat, or. the whole, cheerful collaborators. Each would have preferred to be the sole supplier. Each, therefsre. proposed modification of the C1 camera In Itekajor redesign of the opticsubs tan:modification of ather aspects of the C' cameraeant ol improving ooth resolution and reliability, Fairchiid.omponentto Its* butompetitor for the entire Ccrona camera system,ifferent approach, suggesting retention of the original lens and imape-motion-compensation system but with ait-rations that would result tn the substitution of five-inch film for the three-inch

TOP SEC^EZ

illimeter) film thee used. Both were responding lo urging from

the Corona program office to provide an improvedapabiluv

for use Bom proposals were referred to1 or C"

s>5iemsp on the assumption that one would be chosen and would carry

that designation.

Independent assessment of the two approaches was initially

unfavorable to the lick concept; the Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratorv

at Wright Field concluded that the Itek crsign was too complex and

too advanced to be reliable, while Lockheed judged )cn much the same

ground) thai although neither ltek nor Fairchildully acceptable

2

design, the Fairchild des;gn was more promising. Inautious start on the rairchild system was authorised.

Eventual adoption of the Fairchild design would probably have resultedsrona resolution improvement on the order ot thatin the transition from C tooout IS percent. Such

modeste abandoned In the wake of the first successful Ccror cperation ihC when PresidentEisenhower satrivate showing of the first recovered photography and. ir :ht discussion that followao, heard Dr. Edwin Lane, one of the early sponsors of the Ccronii programetermines advocate of the itekorecastercent improvement ir. the quality

ol Corona photography could be achieved within six months. Impreasei Eisenhower authorized him tc act on that premise and subsequently coRiirrr.ee Land's authority in correspondence with Allen Dulles and Richard BisseLl (then, respectively, director and deputy director of the CIA).

The basis of Rand's optimism was exposure to an updating of the earlier Itek proposal, the largest change being the inclusionaster lensather thanf the C') and simplification of the system in lieu of some of the comprehensive structural changes eirlitr suu2sstsd. The crest potential for improved reSolu:iori lay :rtne faster sens could be used with slower and finer grainan had been required ior thesnS system.

With Eisenhower's endorsement in hand. Dr. Land proceeded

c st on and author ii0 proceed with: c-

Dosedcamera. 3oth 3iS3ell (who had learned of Eisenhower's action

after the fact) and Colonel ?aul Worthman, the Air Fcrc= project

chief for Corona. had reservations about Itek'* ability to carry out

the promises impliedthe proposal Land had endorsed, but in the

event all they could do was to urge that additional C1 camera systems

oe ourchasec atainst the canssr tha: deliveryhesystem 3

might be delayed.

ECR ET

Earlier orderi for long lead tune item* needed lo pruceec with the Fairchild C_ camera were cancelled late annd three additional camera* were ordered to protect launch schedules against slippage* lhat might be caused by any delay in the Itek program. Tne prospective bill for development of what wa* by

called cost abo

came loi

ach. About

he three "reserve' C1 cameras

*-as retrieved from the

cancelled development. Because previously programmed Agenas

ana Thor* would serve all probable C"eeds, no additional

4

vehicle costs were immediately incurred.

A* generally happened ir such affairs, the originalto be understated; bytek wa* estimatingofba*ic cost* and had reducec the quantity

o be mcr* nearly

ltek had first estimated. And in tne end the CLA was nearly right.

As delivered, the C" camura and izi faster lens system effectively performed the improvement originally promised, though

not with complete initial reliability, 5ut the faster optics in combine-

.ion with slower film ant improvements In image motionschematic* did have the effect of reducing image smear and

e delivered fromameras (including three test itemsl to eight (in ilusing two trtielt*/. CIA- program monitor* er.oec-.ei ;h- tvcatuaJ

amerai thac

H

TOP^FtRET

improving resolution,o some extent that improvementthe incorporationlexible ptattm and revolvinglieu of optics tha: swivcled back and forth). Fabricationfrom the ul. of new structural materials, and theskewed film rollerj with the introduction at air twists forfilm as it movea from storage to take-up cassettes, vastlythe film transport operation. space and used the same cassettes as The combinationfilm, better equivalent shutter speeds, more effective imogv

motion compensation, and larger maximum aperture improved ground

o

resolution to an averaiioeet* (from abouteet for CJK In tne interval between the successful recoveryorona capsule on0 and the next following operationalater pickup onour mission failures oi various origins

and two "Discoverer Uuncnes with other than Corona pavioads had

7

-Turret

Resolution figures used here are those generally cited forof the complete system. Unoer idea: conditionsameras wer. eatable ofines perthefoot lens-film resolution, andresolution ofoeet.ines-pvr-mitlimeter

apabilityootool camera-film resolution abtenlial, foot system resolution potential. Corona-M.

The firs:SiSGOvtror" mission attempts included eight operations without camera payloads. O: thehat actuallyattempted Ccrcna and Argon operations, three returned film properly exposed over the Soviet Union. Theiscoverer (ororonargon) mission* extendederiod of almost preciselyonths. Although the ratio of Corona successes to failures seemed appallingly bad by later standards of reconnaissance program achievement, and Arcon^isaster, tne three successful Corona missions provided an enormous fund of intelligence information useful to tht United States (about nine million square miles cf coverallhe Discoverer program was the vehicle by which the nationirst spectacular advancespace technology.

imilar terms, hac about the same Hnss-per-millimeter capability but because of its convergent stereo configuration wouJd nominally provide from J.oot camera-film resolution and o-stem resolution. In practice, the "ground resoiutton" for Corona-V. in its original configuration was fromoeet, altnougr. some individual camera systems were not that capable. The gapvstem resolution" and "ground resolution" wasefiectior. cj smearontras: and sun angle pnenomena, and performance anDmalies characteristic of individual camera systems.

Most program records snowiscoverer operations ovL As noted earlier, thereountingauncr pad explosionpera-

tion is sometimes listed as Discovererhe vehicle successfully launched on9 was called Discoverer I.

ECRET

Tne successful-recovery that markedunr lcoi signaled the-startetter record. Counting that flight, sever, successful capsule recoveries inissions marked thef

One of the failed missions carried Arson equipment (tha;unfortunate system thus experiencing its fourth successive fa::urc in four attempts), soffect there were five Corona missioneven successes. Half of the camera payloacs were in the Cfand the remainderintage, but three of thefailure involved C' instruments. The Argon failure (ilas causec by loss of guidance on the Thor booster, followedestructll o: the Ccrons misa:on failures were chargeable to one or another ihe Agt-na sub? >steThs culprits raneec from guidance through

[<

the Agena did not Achieveandourth an Agena power failure precluded separation and recovery of the capsule- No problems attribu solely to the camera system were experienced, and although nonehe successful missions was untroubled by difficulty c: one sort or another, the returns were extremely good or. the whole.

in ail.ameras, ter. C'ndnvolved inono^ropic Corona mission attempts. Only one o:issions returned film, hu: saver, c: Cand four ofiss:

ended wit? retrieval, (The four Argort failures :r. four attempt!brrl

sufficientlyf tne JO photographic missions thai wen

attempted ir. the firs: two years ofrogram operations, 12

were ir, large part successful; and of theailures.ccurrec U

the ftrst of the two years. e on payloads were no: counted, the

6

record was quite respectable.

rzi

Tne notion c: combining two of the original Coronaa stereo system appeared inonth before theoi Corona film. it* genesis was discussion amongcontractors and program personnel; its firstroposal from Lockheed Missiles and Space Division. Lockheed suggested using eitheras

each elementtereo system, boosting the combination into orbit by meanshor andodestly improved Agena. C^ was the favored system, even though it had not yet flown ir. Corona, because the O" camera wasoounds lighter than its predecessor, and in Corona weight was always important.

Byl the Lockheed proposal had received the conceptual endorsement of Air Force program managers; in January, Colonel Lee Battle, nominally Discoverer office chief but actually the technical

As au^sestedrefatcry note ic: this volume tnt termill generally be used here to identify that part o: tne :otal Corona programocuments of the psrisc as Mural and Corona/iV Murai was handled and treatedeparate compartment oi tne satellite reconr.&issance effort until4rief time even some of the oricina. Corona participants were Kept innocent of

r.ru'ledae thatl r " C was

Martin* development. Continuation o: that compartrnsrealization ^ractict proved entirely impractical, of course, once Mural entered

head of the Corona program, briefed Air Fcrce Undersecretary Joseph Charyk on the notion and received his approval to proceed with initial development. At the time it appeared to Sattie that ar eight-mission program would cost about SoC million, spread over fiscal1 Charyk alsoentative suggestion that the new system should be developed and operated "In the white, although he doubted the feasibility of indefinitely continuing the original management arrangementoint Air Force-CIA enterprise, then working very well) and planned to discontinue the "Discoverer" fiction.

called the proposed new systemoit frrm Csrrr.x. (NASA had not yet adopted that name fcr what became then the series cf claimed spacefliga: system? developed ir. tne unitedotion was to conjoin tw ofetsvai-.en* camera!inch focal ler.gir.aired module, usinj wa recovery ipivol*ingle recovery capsule (wfci would weigh c4 pounds plus film, weight)- The rearmost camera WOu look forward and the faremos: camera backward.

ay c; testing the concept cheaply. Lockheed proposed diverting tc "Gemini the las; two C cameras then available aad using anamera to fly ir. place of one c; the C" payloa Theoretically, theombination would return grounc

resolution* or. theo: aoout six feet, though few programreally believed such results would follow immediately.

r. the courseiscussion meeting called by CharyV and his principal CIA associate. Eugene Keifer. the pro-posal received sufficient support to warrant the selectionode word designator. The CLAis; of eliglblcsebruary.

3"- cho5er- Un:il that timc" ?roJfiClended to call the proposed system "the Twin Program. " rather than

"Gemini."

Charyk approved the start of work on six "stereoystem*

or.ebrusry. pending receipt of approval bv President John F.

Kennedy, who had taken officeonth earlier. The real request

for approval went from Charyk to the new Secretary of Defense.

Robert S. McNamara. early tn March. Charyk observed a: that point

tha: the stereo systemaocd because even with recen: Improvers*

o:'small" objects with the required precision

anc that because the system was relatively well prove* (perhaps a

permissiblehe creationtereo capability was no;

10

roblem."

Af formally approvedheterec" systemvet known as Mural) involved th* fabrication of one engineering vehicle

TOP SECR

ore thai;

ameras originally intended tor individual fuph: and the procurement of five additional sets of cameras to be launched between April and In actuality, the CIA had provided initial funds toonth earlier, but with the proviso that

should be spent in what remained of fiscal

That action proved premature, onarch the apencv

abruptly instructed Lockheed to halt all work on the stereo system.

The sudden reversal seemed to have been occasioned by Charyk's

objection to the unauthor;zcd and premature expenditure approval and

byGeneral realisation that neither specifications nor program

structure had been reviewed at the higher levels cf the CIA and the

DoD. Charyk also had reservations about the agency's unilateral

cecision that Lockheea would be system manager and Itek an

eparture from the arrangement earlier used in Corona,

Charyk (with the support of CIA deputy director Richard Bissell)

tr? Air Forct*CtA program Dffiei y tht Alt Tor-'

Ballistic Missile Division, to act as "system engineering/tecmical

direction' authority* Of course theference carrn 11

the day.

"or the moment, Mural was compartmented separately from Corona andf0 various Corona participants were twa a: the details and plans acr-edhe Spring Not until

2 were the several agencies involved in Corona all maceneio be provided by Mural, although as early as1 details of the Mural program were made available to seniorhe National Photographic Interpretation Center, the Army Mapping Service and similar organisations. The mapping eervice subsequently protested that it had not been adequately advised or Mural matters, perhaoi becauserospective interference with plans to fiy more Argon missions. Charyk and B'-ssell were obliged in2 to emphasize that Mural was in noedicated mapping system and probably had little application to that function. Apparently tha mapping serviee had concluded that CharyV and Bissel! were attempting to monopolize payioad control, which wasair reflection oi the real siatc of affairs even though Charyk was indeed

sponsoring the development ofominal alternative

IS

to Argon.

Ths furor may actually have been occasioned by measuresto incorporationraming camera (anliar-lndex;ng carr.cre system) ir.al vehicle. The preliminary decision tc add that capability came in1 and was formally confirmed th* followmp December. Tne framing camera providedixed Geometric reference to be used in plotting and rectifying the longer

focal length higner resolution panoramic photographs.'" I; couic aid In the construction of maps (as. for that matter, could any mono *jt stereout as Charyk subsequently explained to th* Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, "the framing camera is not and never has been consideredubstitute for the mapping projects such as (Much later, the incorporationonsiderably better stellar-indexing camera, DI5IC, gaveappingsomewhat superior io that of Argon, but such quality was no: available1 Th* underlying problem was that the Army (and its executive agent, the DLM still wanted to develop andatellite mapping system independent of the embryonic NationalOffice, anc any actions that tended to reduce the possibility of sucn an outcome roused objections from the Army Mapping Service, The Subsequent disftppearar.ee of Argor.'s proposed successor (celledn: the cancellation cf the(mapping camera) phase of Samos, even after four camerasad been procured and checked out, had the eventual effect of eliminating flights bv

oedicatec impping camera systems, but tha: too was stiU in tne future N

Dml-Intepratec-Siclir-lndes-Camera. DI5ICnch lem, equal in focal length tof Argur andesolution, althoughantages arose partly in film quality improvements.

Like the original Ccror.a.a* intended to De ar interim, transitionalf satellite reconnaissance. It wasas an expedient device for temporarily providing stereo coverage of denied areas.an instrument to be used until more sophisticated systems then In development could be brought lo oper*-tional readiness. That, at least, was the view from the upper echelons. In the Corona office, and in Itek and Lockheed project organizations.epresented an expedient way of providing for the continued productionuccessful svstem. one that might with relatively slight investment be mac* capable of competing successfully with more costly and eomtlen systems in development elsewhere. Thus as early as snort'y after the firstission, ltek proposec. (with CLA sponsorship) anj"ystem consistinge-encmeered Mural will:ube of optics serving two plattens. Uefcat the system could provide resolution on the order of four tc fiveontention that was disputed by Lieutana:. Howard anc Eugene Keifer of Charyk's Staff. roposal, as such,ontender for development until June Ifi'.pecial cane; heaced by C. M. Pureell formaltx advised the CIA tha: theas "no: ainvestment" when compared to various alternative ways of imprc-vmg Carona performance. id not var.isr.

however,ifferent euise, Itek's original propose,ear later as the pcr.esis of the.

The assumption thatould be no moretoppa: system stemmed irom tne continued existence of tne Samu*toonsiderably more sophisticated, higher resolution search system. Unfortunately,evelopment wasnsuccessful, Tht subsequent adaptationingleamera with stereo capabilityorona-configured recovery system (as Lanyard) provec Generally disappointing. As long as nc better system qualified, and while the unquestioned need for search missions by reconnaissance satellites remained, Corona would survive. And ii

did*

The firstission, inas largely successful. The auxiliary framing earners did noi operate correctly (posi flight analysts suggested that nitrogen purging of the payload section curing countdown hadut th= framing camera film anc thai the resulting shrinkage had put too much tension on tneut results otherwise were quite good. By that time, Ue* (the camera contractor} was tn the process of assembling the slkteenth and last o: the tner.-schecuied Corona-V. systems,

s

"M'l1 and other proposals fororona systems are more extensively treated later in this section.

TOP SECJfET

being due by Illl June. Payloao had been deliveredate of aboutonth, and ltek wa; preparingign illroouc-ror oerfonnel to other tasks--cr to dismiss them. aunches

at intervals o: about two week* through exhaustion oi

the inventory, reordering, if required, had to be decided by2

16

rder to avoidhe regime cf regular launches.

og ram

The then-probabic successor toasayload. ihe last survivor of ihe original Samoa program. Intended to be an area coverage systemootfootalso known

^iad begun development concurrent

OctODcr iPoO and was to begin initial operations following sr. abbreviated setve lop men: flights scheduled to start in March

Theaunch was conducted inndrustrating similar.is it th* experience of therogram, waa marked by indicated Success in camera functioning and total faUursecovery. Notwlihstandin| tha; beginning, the: (NRO) ordered lcystemsugmenting

thv oncir.al ordere systems. But given the signal lack of successeconnaissance satellite recovery operations to that nmt--except

forrudenc* loomed desirable. Therefore. NRO Director

Or, Charyk also approved an order for six additionalystem/

Tne schedule* ihei. existent called for one Coror.fi -Ni and- gyilv to b* orbited each month, starting ir. Togetherrovide about th? same coverage aswo- eunch schedule forM. (Tne'.thrr. hue lysisal stereo resolution thai ranged iromeet to aboj;

i:

designed iofoot or better resolution, also in

Operational flexibility greater than that implied bv therder boo* was theoretically provided by the adaptability of the Thcr-Agena combination. Although there were in practice some significant differences :r. interface configuration, and although the Lanyardot:hor aucmer-.ed by threei solid rock eta. the basicrc La.-vard payloads all used Agena stages and Thor boosters. (Late. the searcb-functior. part of the reconnii*

same program *xoio::ec tha: ficx.bilitv to subetltut* Corona payloadj

lrgonscnedu:ed--to tne extreme dittresi cf the Army's mapping specialist*. ad been four successive Argon musicr failures between February andl--ail of which would* Qgen Corona failures had that payioad beernot until2 did an Arco.- mission end in apparent success. Ever. then.

i

lleliar anc irrrair. camera malfunctions deeraded the recovered film.)

The secondperationeganT2 launch and ended in successful recovery of the Capiula by air catch onpril. The returned fiim included imapes of Sacramento metropolitan airport takeneightautical miles. On the prints were impressions that interpreters could identify as runway markings, small civilian aircraft, and automobiles f'jusi at the detection threshold"). Two-engined aircraft could be distinguished from four-engined aircraft, which encouraged the some-

wnat optimistic estimate thatould resolve objects seven

19

feetide.

Between the initial success ofn March and the end Ofix reconnaissance vehicles in that configuration were launched from Vandenberg. Of that set. four were successful to the extent that film with intelligence utility was retrieved, although onlyne instance did the accessory framing camera operate6 April launchnded with failure of the recovery parachute tc depioy.'and the very successful orbitai operations of6une launch) were capped by fatal misadventure: one uf the extended booms on the aircraft recovery apparatus hit and collapsed the recovery parachute, the capsuleeet intc the ocean and sank Defore irogmen could reach it, apparently because

i

140

tht flotarier. device* were dtmiped either by the boom cr front Ihi extended fall. Three o: the four otherwise successful missions were marked by various malfunctions of the framingisorder eventually traced to faulty shutter design but initially attributedariety of assembly and checkout shortcomings.

In the same period, from February through' mission was attempted. Orbital operation was erratic owing to ar Agana pas leak, fuel depletionecision to attempt early recovery (at night,outh-to-north pass rather than the usualnd at the end an electrical failure in the squibiiea. the reentry vehicle from separating. The Agena anc capsule reenterednit,iles north of the pianned recovery area. Both were lost.

The third, fourth, andissions were attempted betwff it Juo and In one instance the Agena would not re-

fire and no reentry maneuver could be conducted, and in the others the

20

recovery system malfunctioned. In nc instance was film retrieved.

While those unhappy events proceeded,xtended Lti record of successful operationsen. the next mission failure (miii.:

Irta earlier aba-dance of numerical andactivity had by June accutreS

iv ees.grUwr1an anachron;sm4 the dcsigr.a:

as been used throJi-nuiiJ this section: there is no other way of

rovidinp recognition continuity for the reader.

ccurring irom precisely tne same cause as its oredccesaor: parachute damage inflicted by booms attached to the recovery aircraft. Given such diametrically different program results, the consequences were virtually Inevitable. Major General Robert E, Greer, director of all the photographic satellite programs except Corona, recommended cancellation. Charyk unhesitatingly agreed, Inconsequence, the "interim*' Coronarogram became th* sole wide area search system tn the reconnaissance satellitein development. Us string of ten successive "good" missions wasecord of complete excellence, of course. Except forune launch, each of th* ten experienced somer minor difficulty. Framing camera failure was the most common. cu camera introduced 1st*argely overcame that source of missionnexperienced programmer failure and was forced tc eariy recovery, and another payload oroitec ;r.ln unexpectedly highalfunctionelocitv meter--and briar:ss repcatedlv through

Th* lessonsximriencc were Chiefly responsible for thewav inwas thereafter conducted.

J flight controller, called

Rr

the capsuieours."" In othernd particularly in

terms of quantities oi highly useful photographs of denied areas, ii

21

perations were highly successful.

An additional impulse for reliance onather than on the unpromising or even the attractive but troublesome Lanyard, was the continued evolutionary improvement in Corona capability. By the summerhe conceptystem had emerged, oeen evaluated, and translated into development and procurement schedules. as toayload with two recover! raptuUa. separately recovered, and capable of storage In orbit between two interval,amera operation. (Such inactive storage on orbit was called Zcrable Opehe additional weight created by essentially doubling the film ioac and adding one complete additional recoverv tvilar

e offie: by launchingent .Corona combination ase:c: ar augmented Thor -the booittr originally created to provide launcn capability for tne relatively heavy Lanyard.

[42

Th*t-re c: the Larvarc program andamos-orientedorona- orientedstrikingly illuminated by the increasingly frequent referencesas "Corona-L. " The success of selective andof technology, an exampleighlyas marvclously illustrated in the ransform of theffort, wasfor generaticnigh-thrust version of the Thordemonstrated that the relatively small Corona recoverybe successfully adapted to the needside-film, reccnr.aissar.c*,ingle-earner*

Stereo adaptationhe first two-camera stereo reconnaissance system

proceed from concept into development; the stereo conceptmuch greater operational utility-*in

Surona-M,'*t, Tne influencend

t the first Operationally successful stereo camera,

is rr. readily Demonstrable but could reasonably oc pustulated. In any cas*. the claimsiv primacy in stereo implication* were indisputablw.

It is rot entirely possible it- prove that the adaptation ofarvard) camera to the Discovvrer-Corona reentry system prompted iatur attention to tne prospect of similarly converting

capsule' terni,

Z'ixperience demonstrated the Inherent irailues of

*he Corona capsule

probably eluding the unhappy late of the earlier "Wg capsule' systems in consequence. Similarly, the feasibility of Operatingouble-bucket mode had been extensively demonstrated through Corona more than iour years before the first double-bucketl

stand.

The technique of incremental and sequential development, and of building carefullyase of demonstrated technology, was epltomirvd

nd

:r. their various models, bu: was also exploited

oiher satellite systems developed under the acpis cf the National Reconnaissance Program ir the years That experiencelear and substantial influence on the selection o: development stratifies izr other major defense programs of thend early lr"Ci. In somehexperience affecttc Strategyecause thi fame ier.icr efficiali were involved ir? and 'other defense system" sevelspneni activities. i. Alexander "lax and iota MtLucas, KR3nd David Packard and John Foster, kvhfr held tne second and third most powerful posts :r. theefense, were ^articularlv influer.tiai ;r. that rtf oec*

I

influence that couid net be acknowledged or cited either in the open literature or in theecurity system was the advocacy o: development strategies tested in NRO programs by various analysts who contributed to the many studies of alternative Bvitern acquis:iion policies that were sponsored by the Department of Defense7 In particular, several major reports from the Rand Corporation, the "Blue Ribbon Panel Report"nd the findings of the Congressional Commission onProcurement (published ineflected ir. varying degrees th* conclusions of one analyst who had an opportunity to examine in detailyear record of satellite development by the National Reconnaissance Office. He contributed to the underlying research and analysis and initially voiced many cf the findings later fisted in the three study activities, in the wake oi such studies. DoE altered its accustomed acquisition policies to allowfor programs based on incremental, sequential development procedures and the selective exploitation c: rrroven state-of-the-art technology.

^

F. * 1

f

Althoughad not been formallyor develop*ntilhe CIA in2 author.red Loc>ji*ec. the prime contractor, to proceed with preliminary engineering deiigr oi the system. ork had been separately covered. 1 Approval for fabrication and long lead-time procurement reached Lockheed in November, still in advance of the final contract. At that point, fire: launch was planned ir.3ne-per-month initial launch rate following, but with provisionswo-pcr-month rate starting as early as That rather short schedule was made possible by the expedient cf converting previously builtystems lo theOtlftfluriUoni Formal notification of the imminence c: Cc-rcr^-J operationsC, the CIA. and the USIB'l Commltte onnr.auIance early inhich time teemed deesi: flight would occur in 'early summer11 rather then May

Thr rationale iorona-, program was heavilyssumptions about lhe utility of Zombie-mode operations. Effective

onsistedhrust-au^mentcd-Thor. an Afena D, two modifiedecovery systems,odifiedamera. Inissionapability of performing two*ission* tt iftv cost of one booster, one Mural camera system, two reentry vehicles, and two stellar-mcex camera(on* for each caofuie).

the mission plan was to use th. systemour-dayecover the forward capsule, and program thelementscontrolled tumble" oluch asays, with electrical power and stabilization control pa* closed off. At the end of thenaction, but one day before further reconnilimcc use waa planned, controllers would reactivate the satelliteecond four-day period of photography. eet of film were carried (or each of the four-day periods of operation.

Although th* first of3issions was originally scheduled foraunch did net actually occur untilay only partly chargeable to difficulties of payload development. ash cf problems with ther. bothnd Lanyard programsaunch failure sr. the first attempt to use the TAT (Thrust Auc.mer.ted Thor) boosteruddsr. and alarming interruption of intelligence returns from satellits overflights curing the early months Trie firs: two Lanvard mission fatted because ofreakdown and the thirzamrra failure after or.lvours in orbit; one Arccr. and three Corora-N'. operations between January and. wers either failuresgmfiCar.tlvhree because of Acena problems and tht iourth because of the TATonsequent of oversight on the par:aunch crew member, ir. light o: that

iequer.ce of ever.it, Srockway McMillan, who badJoseph V. Chary*directsr of the National Reccnnamar.ee Office is;ecided to launch proven Corona*Ms ratner than untried CcrvtaOi curins the early summer of the year. The successenewed the Cow of photography on which inieUi-eence analysts had become increasingly dependent and induced MrV.llar to approve the firstission.

If the dependence of the United States on satellite photograph*-returned byad not been adequately acknowledged earlier, tne lacuna cf3 and follow.nr Corona successes corrected tha: cv*rsijht. Johr. McCcne, then Director of the CIA, wrote McMillan laliewinf the3 mis si an succesi that "the importance of this type of intelligence tc our National Security cannot be over-emphasi;ed ane it :itha: there b* no repetition cf the hiatus ib this type ofuer. tr has existed for the cast I MrCcne tSded. rtferrinc is various procedural cnanges ir.trocuced curing :fc.n

e

effort t;iUll respcr.iibls for Vinous rntSsisr. failures, "in viewe overriding importance of this type of LnieUtftnia

tha missing number in tne series, was actually th* Are or. mission ofApril, tne sixth Argon failure againstood" to* rat: or and one 'partial success."

immieed. We desire that action be taken accordingly. " One oi

efense Undersecretary Roswell] Gilpatricave agreed tha: the NRO will continue to employ the specif inspection procedures on ail forthcoming flights in order to insure that the possibility o: failure

the additional precautions that McMillan immediately instituted, in addition to continuance of the "special inspection and system checks" introduced earlier, was to instruct General Greer that "experiments and additional payere not to be carried on future Corona or lights if there was any possibility that their inclusion would

th-he successful recovery of

27

photography from the main payloads.11

Notwithstanding such precautions.perations began somewhat inauspiciouely, as had th* original scries of Corona launches :our years earlier. Not until the third) , inhe plaued and the actual sequence of events ccm^cceptably

Missionas actually the third 3 the fourth, Printoutslaunch records included in the continually updated "NR?

1 umber

lhe computer is not prograituned to call attention to calendric The explanation iorequencing disorder is relatively straightforward: 3 was scheduled4 launch, had been checked out on the launch pad, and was in the process c: final countdowniolent windstorm damaged the payload. The damage was severe enough warrant returning the camera -capsule

f"

correspondence. Th* problemundamental failure in missior concept. In each of the ftrst two flights, capsule number one was recovered complete with four days of film take, but the second capsule was lost. On one occasion an inverter failed and iheystem could not be reactivatederiod of Zombie operation (the recovery system later failed,ecoder breakdownhe Agena system made it impossible to reactivate the system and caused the loss of capsule number twoission conducted

Ir- some reaper;i, the first :w; attempts to operateould no: be counted as major failures, because in fact one capsule complete with fUm wa* recovered in each instance and that recover represented an achievement comparable ts the success of any earlier Corona mission. Su: theu-rtar.tUliy greater, and it wai also tru* that each of tnt firstissions had been mien dec tc- arc letter ^ata thar. cruld nave beer, obtained from two of the earlierperation*,

auctionanufacturers for repair in: rtcaiibration. The next vehicle scheduled for iiuncn, already numberedas mover forward or. the schecule, 3 reappeared4 operation. Owing to electr.cai problems in tne Agena. it became one ofeaainglyrar* total failures of the Coronaam.

The fourth Corona-J mission was catastrOphicallygena

guidance failed shortly after launch and the vehicle arched into the

Pacific. The, onad

an uneventful launch, butamera operations the film broke,

then the Agena oower supoly failed, and finally the capsule ignored

28

signals to deboost and re-enter.

is

Unlike other failed units, the reentry capsule launched and then lost on5 reappeared laterand spectacularly. Calculation* of the ar.ticioaled decay of the capsule led to an initial prediction that it would impact in the Pacific, west of the coast of South America anc about IC degrees north of the Pole. ater calculation based on better orbital trica measurementsrobable impact of fragments somewhere in Venezuela. Observation stations in ihe Carribeam area were alerted watch the skies onhe indicated date of reentry, and on that date Maracaibo, Venezuela, actually reported sighting five bright pieces passing overhead, presumably on their way to impact in thef thericsr. coasl. That seemed to b'j that.

More than two months later. On acommercial photographer, one Leonardo Davilla, telephoned. Army Attache in Caracas to report that ar. object which appearlu be partpace vehicle had been foundonth earlier, or.

1

7 July,arrr.iles south of Cariui tmouegion of the Andes near the Cl 'lumbit: border. bieet, Daeported, carried among other marking* one that readnd another that readavilla did no; mtntier tnat he had photographed "the object" or that the farmer on whose-land it lay had beer, trying to saila whole or in parti.

Not until Monday, ugust,econd call from Davilla, did the Army attache notify the assistant Air attache of the reported find. They were unable, that day, tc find an aircraft to take them to the site of the impact. Or Tuesday, afterommercial pilot who had aisc viswod "the object" a: close rar.gehad returned lo Caracasouvenir piece, the Army attachet.the viiiage nearest the find, only to discover that the Venasueiar.adirst and had tatter, the object to Sir. Cristobal,vin=iaJ capital.

or releasehe object. authorities wer= imt.aiJy unavaiitng. . Army attache ir. Low, thermy fiew it to Caraca*. oromismg to oeliver it t; the Americans or theugust. There intervened yet another delay,

Upo: its arrival ir. Caracal the objec:nown to be the

remains o: theehicle from missicr. lOOr) was taker.

r-

directly to the oiiiCC o: the Venezuelan Minister of Defense, lt finally returned to American hands on Tuesday.ugust.

Well before reports Of tha capsule's survival reached American authorit.es. Davilla photographed it. local farmers attracted by on. oi tne gold discs* attached to the upper section of the capsule had hacked away at us skin to get at more of the gold, one of the farmers had transformed the parachute linesarness for hts horse, and assorted bits and pieces had been removed as souvenirs by assorted passersby. ugust the local Reuters correspondent had reported tne findispa-.ch tnat several wire services picked up. Ithe Washington Star end the New York Timesugust. The Pentagonno comment."

The Army attache noted finding an American five-cent pieceuarter among the odds and ends in thee also tooh possession of tne film tnat remained in the fractureders. It was "well cooked."

Gold discs inside the ablative shield acted as heat dispersion media.

As they melted thev actually sheathed the capsule to (oil-thick pure goic

Two quartersuffalo nickel hadound In one of the capfuit recoveredL.

S*C

mace random-entryery real possibility--which ewe

e

somewhat disconcerting to security people.

In the end, two positive actions resulted fromFirst, all classification markings were removed from orbital Corona vehicles before launchreward for return to American authori-ues" notice, in eight languages, was substituted. Second, inspection procedures were reinforced to protect against the stowage of more American souvenir coins during fabrication and checkout. 1 Injunction that such objects must not be carried because they might interfere with system functioning had obviously lost its effectiveness.

in tie wake of the firs: twolights, both rated partiall successful, ground testsystems had been disappointing. Progra:

Security had vet another epiiogic trauma even after the remains hadetrieved from th- Venezuelan Ministry of Defense, in oraer to obscure tne dee tin It tor, oi the packaged capsule wreckage, the real Corona oarts ware sent to Lockheed by wayecure air routeummv oackage containing paper, odds and ends of metal scrap, and pieces of wooii. was boxed lor shipment to the home addressIA Officer assigned to the Pentagon. Unhappily, the scrap fill plus the carton weighed onlvounds although the shipping manifesta aSC-pOond cargo. Alert customs officials at McGuire Air Tore* Sast ceciaed thev hadope cache and opened the box. After fruitlessly sorting through the expensively freighted junk, theythe addressee and advieed him sternly that they were "going to investigate." Stalling customs for the moment, the officer putrantic call to tne CLA to 'cut this one off." The Agency, with Its own contacts in- the Customs Bureau, retrieved and destroyed tne boxcays later.

manager, therefore had decided to use: payloaci to provioe required rtccnnaisnr.ee coverage while extended oeveloprnent and fixysttm technology continued. Apart frorn tht cperatinj: defect, that had prevented recovery of the secondach of the first twoperations, the camera system hadeluctance tc perform according to expectations. Engineers diagnosed the banc difficulty af one of adjusting for correct tensionhe film transport jvstem. The flighthe Agena--involving inverter operation

und command system rcsocm iveness were couriered by installing redun-

30

quipment.

As happtr.ee with infuriatingneervtrie fates intervened in theecisionto reliance cr.o tha:roblems couldfrtc cf prewure fsr immediate operational returns. TwcIlsi tr.re*t0erebecaui*hcr taiiurt--the second in twz vtars and only tit7- Cancellation of Lanvarc

following iti third Ltunsh and flrit partial iueceei had made twc adi.tional TATavalUble and indirectly accounted for the

The source for that accounting of Thor3 briefing piper prepared to? McMillan, says there were only fpu' Thor failures and ignores the "improved ThorM (TAT) failur* of

T

allocation of two basic Thor-Agena combinations to the ArgonAusust and3 launches . Perversityandboth went well, providing the second and third largelyoperations in ten mission attempts. (Another Argonartial success.} Theaunches ofwere failures. Apart from the Thor malfunction, an Aeenacaused failure of capsule reentry as the climax7 November launch. 3ut the final Corona-Mits breed, op< ratingtroni ItsDecember

launch to capsule recovery on The paradox remaine however; in itss ths nominally reliablexperienced major mission problems, while tha fcimcst untestedperated reasonably well. Twoapsules and oneapsule

were recovered between August andnd two were los:

31

in each program.

That the Zombie made itself, or the effort to operateombie mods, wasnavailing had become apparent with theuccessive failure to operate and recover the dormant capsuleual-capsuleission, That reactivation after storage on orbit was more difficult than had been anticipated was finally acknowledged early Onebruary Dr. McMillan

TO? SECRET

edhat until further notice allystems were

V1

be operated on "continuous missions" interrupted only to the exier.:

necessary to recover the first capsule, after which they were to resume

photographic operations. After recovery cf the second capsule,iar

ruled, such Zombie-mcde experiments as were necessary and appropriate

32

could be conducted.

That solved the problem. The next launch of.n Isas followed by the first successfulf both capsules. For practical purposes, the "storage on orbit" concept that had largely justified the development of Corona-; end had beer,octrine since the conception oi tne system moreear

s

earner was abandonee, withal temporarily.

theucceedinglight* wer'. those that ended la the ocean cf: Vaabettberghe Andes, so then was n: immediate eppcrtumty tc revalidateas an eight-day ratherday system, in both of the succeedinglights, Agena electrical problem! were responsible for theheaunchedunexperienced none of the Agena problems of its crececesscrs and been its capsules were recovered--agam without any pause for 'combie' storage on orbit. The Seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenthissions were happy

parallel* of ihe iixth. Although minor difficulties and flightall planned launches were successful, the camerasand all orbited capsules were retrieved. Byhad provided as much gross coverage oi denied areas asobtained through the whole of the preceding year, and thatseveral major mission failures earlier in the year. The Corwas supplemented by excellent returns from

and spotty photography from two other

Thereafter, lorear, Corona operations could best be- summanred as routine and returns as excellent. Ir.4 the Corona camera suffered its first in-fligh: breakdownpportunities, and there was some unverifiable suspicion chatin that instance the malfunction might have originated in Ajena

electrical problems.

After the first two unsuccessful attemptsperationsugustrocram managers prudently made no further effort to exercise that theoretical mission potential until December. wher. they put the svstemtandby mode for four days following recovery of the first capsule. (Standby operation, originally conceivedow-cost way of providing required periodic search coverage a: intervals of about two weeks, was by lateeen as providing insurance agtmst weather pattern changes.

need: tci io more favorabler recjuiremer to hold cameras in orbit in anticipationpecific even: for whtc'r coverage was wanted.)

Launch crews demonstrated further enlargement oftility in? byomplete system in one-day-frcm-launch) status for twoonsiderable enhancement o'. system responsiveness. Gradual extension of mission life from its originaldaysi' days wa? one product c: the proven "zombie mode" operation. Modest enlargements tn the thruSI capacity of TAT (by meanshor fuel tank enlargement, the vehicle being called Thorac) and la the orbital durability of theere undertaker, earlyhe goalday rnitsicr. Operations. f the improved system wars schadulcd tc biffin ir.

ThOTftdfrom the original TA, (Thrust-Aufmerted-Tnor) ir. havingeet mere length to accommodate additional fuel anc ONicizer. and in some relocation of components. With Sargear.'. strap-on solid rocke: boosterscould put intoounds mere than could TAT-Agena. Modification of Launch facilities at Vandenberg (tc accommodate tht taller Tr.orac)rngina^rinp required to transform TAT into

T nor ad cost about Unit cost of Thorad was only abou

^housand more thtr. lor TAT. i3

One reason for the relative modesty of efforts toas.compared to earlier improvements of Corona-Cwas the apparent imminenceevelopment startnew search system4 and later. There were two primeoneby the CLA, with support frommembers of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory

y Dr. McMillan, the NRO staff in the

Board, and the other

Pentagon, development specialists in the Directorate of Special Projects (on the Westnd other members of the intelligence

board.

During McMillan's tenure as Director of the NationalOffice, the familiar question of what system should be developed to replacehen, was continually complicated by contention Over who should have development and operationalfor the successor system and--at the end--what lasting role the NRO should have ir. the total National Reconnaissance Program. Those issues, and others, had embroiled McMillan and. Wheelon, the CIA's Deouty Director for Science and Technology,ureaucratic

fter which, for precisely

TheP survivedew search system

ooroval on 22

days, the new system carried the codethe approved program title.

pril,

power struggle tha: had undercurrent* of both personal fend Institutional antagonism. r reassignment of responsibility for Corona development and operations was one other element ofnvoluted controversy, particularly after it became obvious that the "interim1 and "transitory" status repeatedly assumed for Corona and its variants from the early days of the program was thoroughly erroneous. irtually all participants in the satellite reconnaissance program were willinp to concede that Corona would be in use for several years Rl ore.

By the late summerhe interwDver. controversies involving institutions, technological goals, management authority, and personal prerogative! had become so troublesome that the only reason*.bla way out was the departure cf the principals. Di. McMillan let it be known that ht was returning to private industry, and Dr. Whefllonimilar choice. Dr. Alexander K. Flax. Assistant Secretary of ihe Air Fcrcebecame act-.nr Director. NT.C.cMillan's absence latt In Augustormally succeeded to the post when McMillan's resignation sesame effective, Earlier. James Q. Reber o: the CLAbeen named Deputy Director of the NRO. No CLA official assumed the role Dr. Wheelor. had earlier played; Reberor practicalhe CIA representative and the channel

between the CIA and NRO participants in the National Reconnaissance Program.

On* of the peripheral casualties of the skirmishing during ihe Summer5 was most of the activity airr.ee a; furtherovcmen: of the Corona system which by then had progressed to an operationalith some attractive potential for further growth, Flaxost of troublcscme problems of technology, organization, and future system planning (although the decision to proceed with what

ad been essentially confirmed at the time of

he future o: Corona was net quite as certain as was

assumed innd that toetem of concern for

3o

thi;tcr.

The long-slmrnerinj differences between CIA and NROin the Corona program, mostly concen:ro:ed about questions of responsibility and authority, were amicably resolved ina,x became Director of the NRO- In essunce, the arrangement tapproved by the Executive Committee for tne National Reconnaissance Program onpril) made Flax the ultimate authority tor systems engineering, specifications, integration problems, the master prorram plan, system facilities, integrated funds reooriinitp andperations. Lockheed, which had been

working,eerbal agreement With the CIA since was afforded formal contractual coverage forctivity that related to the integrated Hollar-Indexing camera that laterC. (Lockheed had spent about S2 million o: its own money oni then called 1SIC.) ir. terms of general management authority, Dr.accepted the principle that no change to accepted procedures should be introduced if it would "unduly disrupt" the continuing program. The CiA's ultimate responsibility for the Corona camera wai confirmed, as fororiginalyitem. the reentry vehicle, th- payload assembly itructurt, an: engineering.f these elementshe total payload subassembly. Tht JJRO's Director of Satellite Programs (MajorJohn L. Martin.as confirmed ir.

reiponaibUlty frr the bsostsr. the Agena, therogram,ystem integration tr. preparation-for launch, the launch itself, on-erb commandontrol,apsule recovery operation!. Martin'siendet is all aspects ofxcept pay lead subsystem eng;neer;ng, payload contract supervisicn, and payload technical data, for wrier. CIA's Svstem Program Director for Corona retainedlbllUy. However, each of the participants was guaranteed freeull access to all program cata. both for engineering and for orbital

through HIT. the final filch: in the Corona program,issions were much more intermixed than had been the cat* with earlier transitionsoto CtM, tond thence to the

Even thoughesignationodelCorona,I model had gradually but significantly beenits operational life. ack-up system forof the recovery vehicle in the event of Agena powerincorporated following its development and demonstration as Orbit-adjusts alto added, again

m:

?rom eight davs c:

camera life_ extended its mission capability to IS days Andarticipant In the remarkabi* skttn of successes6uring which timeapsule* were placed in orbit andapites were recovered. Reliability iiad appreciably improved since injie one-cay mission success in four attempts was rightlypectacular intelligence accomDhihment.

odel cf Coronaapability to operate at rather than lOG-nautical-mileorresponding improvement in resolution and scale. Itonstant* rotating camera with fewer oscillating parts, thus improving stability on orbit, reducing smear, and further enhancing resolution capability Added function* permitted optional on-orbit selection of exposure and filter modes. It accommodated alternative film loads. The dormant capability gained increased significance. Not only could the new Coro be held inactive aeainsi the occurrence of better weather, but it could be aiaptud tc> chanpes in photographic requirement* while on orbit.

A final major cbufe the addition of the DISIC to the Ccrgr.a complement of photographic equipment. hree* la Sb focal lengtha star-calibration capability that wis largely unaffected by the orientation of the orbital vehicle. Tht earlier atcliar indexing system had become ineffective whenever tne mam camera was positioned so the! the stellar damera looked tew tht sun; in DISIC, one camera was always pointed at leastegrees

Several of the improvements derived fromf" as also tne first Corona to oe flownIIapsules facing forward, in the cirection of flight.

t

j- SECRET

s sur.. ncorporation ofn combinationariety at other improvements in camera precision effectivelyapping capability inhat finally obviatedneed for flying dedicated mapping millions. (N; Arcor payloads hac Deer, flown since Augustlthough two stiil were being held ir, reserve. addition ofo the Corona system, the requirement for addi-tional Arcor missions or for ato Arcor. vanished. I

Through the extended period cf Corona-M., endperationi. two quite different approaches to modifications and improvement of the species contended for acceptance. One stemmed from th* Corcna MO proposal that Itei: hadc which had nominally beer, put to rest by action af the Pur cell Par.e;

Saiicaliy,roposal conceived o:he.ingle lansincn focal length, thai Uni tube lervingttens cf the film suosystem/ Ita lackeer. causedree fictcrs: oubtsIA and Airprogram managers mat ltefc's expectation for the lent and the system were realistic: secord. the pronounced preference o; the Purieii Pane! and other review bodies for fundamental4 sweep.ngn the Corona-Mj and tniri.

_Ihad operatedimilar mooe.

tne commitment c: both Air Force and CIA elements oi the NRPew search system, one ths; would replace rather than augment C-j-

That complex o: institutional and technical motivation*some shifts of position from time to time. Thus aboutonths after he had first argued against funding lick's proposal for development model. Lieutenant. Howardenior member of the NRO directorate) urged Dr. Charyk to accept the proposal. Lockheed also endorsed ltek's approach, at least to the extent of requesting funds End proposing development schedules, and Itroceeded far enough with the basicenu c; technical and financial details.

Complicating consideration ofersion o: Corona was 'a parallel Itci; proposal that concentrated on detail changesut major redesignubordinate category. After visiting Itek early in January, Charvy. became vsry interested various o: tne Iter.asicM system, although nothing was then saidew lens-film system. His recuest that the CIA

s3 would have beer, compose;

T

etcval lens (scaled up from the Mural-c"wo Separate filmonvergent panoramic stereo Rather than theillimeter film of all preceding Coronas,2 version wouid havench film (for which Lanyardme background experience).

if":

comment or. Uek'i approacheply that most of ihe Itek items

were then being ccnudertd for gradual introduction into the Corcni

program via the technical change route. Dr. Herbert Scov.ile, ClA'i

Deputy Director forsuggested tha: weigh: control, optica!

improvements, adaptation for ultra-thm-basefilm, automata exposure

control, modification c: the film drive, and improved thermal control

(all among the items cr. Itek'i iistl were being individually considered.

He maintained, ther&isrc,ne-point redesign oi the Corona

40

system to incorporate such diverse changes was not warranted.

The issue thus informally joined was tested mere or lessy waytudy ptri^rmed by Major General Z, Greer'sn a: Caftryk'a direction. The impetus for the studyucusiicr. c: arib between Char yk and Crcer, its productormal report cf It*ominal Object was tc compare the potentialStnofthrcposai. Th* conclusion, statederies t: ret3mm tndations, wasevelopment thcontinued toward fiigh: testallel with developmentifferent reentry capsule, cased on Coram desipni after wfcieb tne racit premising of tne two should be chosen for fullent and dtp;oyrr.cn:. That choice, Greer's panel suggested, should be delayed untilxperience nad demonstrated the Superiority c: one o; the.

The rationale for the comparison studytatement of need from the National Photographic Interpretation Center INPIC) and an anticipated endorsement of the NPIC "requirement" by the United States Intelligence Board (USIB).' ariant Of Corona actually seemed tootential for better resolution than would anut (In the judgment of the study group) there was eomewhat leas assurance thai the resolution Itek promised was really-achievable. Each of the proposed new systems would ultimatelyarger recovery capsule, given the necessity of using five-inch film widths to provide the promised performance of. light theoretical ;ost advantage, both for development and for recurring mission eosti--abo.itercent in each category, based on almost identical development-deployment schedules. At the end, the study group decided thatffered "by far, the greatest promise

and minimum design ris* of any design available for this time period"-

41

eKceot for tne

Tne lequenci of event* was roughly this: ad begun development in0eans ofSIB requirementfoot search coverage resolutionime when Corona was returningfoot resolutionmall percentage of the time. " orona-Mural had been developed, providing resolutions of abouteet for aoout If percent of the returned photography. Given that performance. NPIC in2 expressed disinterest in any "new" system unless it could offer substantial improvement over the:

iht upsho* cf the study activity, for the moment,antw plea for considerationevelopment (fromensur that Itek was--for the momer.t. at ieast--not to expend furiesevelopment additional to those earlier spent. As Colonel Howard explained to Colonel John Martin in May, the underlying problem eras, net merely the choiceollcw-on search system, bat that in the absence of any new development requirement Itek had noisturbing circumstance in light of the fact that Itek was "the most successful satellite reconnaissance team ir.

Thtanel report of3 said many things about the need for improverr.er.ti ir. satellite reconnaissance, but forhe key aspecthat an improvedLlL-was considered loew variant offforded the^greatest near-term opportunity for Improving search coverage. Giver, the generally mixedons or

budget constraint ofnman-late Importance, and the findings af tha Purctllnd Cr-er's Evaluation Committe, McMillan in

returns. did not then promise as much otentialec.he relatively distant future was the best thai could be anticipated. That conclusion, and the abysmally poor flightof thasystem, caused its cancellation The KPIC restatementeedoo: search resolution,aused consideration of re-engineering the(principally byorona-style film recovery System to replace thesatisfacio capsule ivit.rr. cf theut el that point Itek was offering the considerablyersion of Corona for consideration, ar.lso promisee resolutions Or. the ordereet.

3 directed that all work oriph-resoiution-icns variant for Corona applications be hatted. In place of such activity. McMillan wanted additional work on Corona subiysttms leading to more consistent performance of the existent system- Because the Purcell Panel recommendations had been rather general, McMillan

44

also wanted the Corona office to propose specific improvement modes.

By3 the Corona office had identified those items

of detail improvement that seemed most likely to satisfy the specified

NRO requirement. They included more careful lens selectivity and

th* procurement of better optical glass; more precise camera focui

adjustment, through expanded testing; incorporation of yaw steering

and vernier attitude control features; experimentation Ulth automatic

exposure control devices, ultimately leading to their incorporation in

procurtionetter programmer, and experiments using high

sensitivity film (for mght photography} andilm in orbit. (Ia

esience, these and related improvements, plus dual recovery ciptult

capability, led directly lo thecMillan accepted

the basic recommendations late ir. August, and early the following mor.;

45

reoortrd to tne Director, CIA. his piarts for actinj on them.

But an imminent funding crisis intervened, anc late in Septemte: thf advance authorization of work on the menu of Corona improvements wasevelopment thatodest flareup of anxiety

:anagement arrar.2emer.ts arte, if.uggestion from Central Greer that Che Corona Configurator Control 5oard (which ultimately decided what modifications would be incorporated In production systems) be overhauled. As with similar proposals earlier and later, Creer's suggestion had no effect.

The Corona improvement menu, or those elements of it tha: .more or less directly to improvement of the quality of Corona imagery without involving substantialhe configuration o: the basic system, was ultimately incorporated in systemr.ari more significant, inhe CIA fundedoll ituduccessor searcheveiopment that led over thewo year* tem procc-sils | |vt:"fj

The

Jond under direst NROnd by that routendorsement cf what liter

Agena orcolemf in earlyu responsible fcr areposal torcl

men: cf the crizi.-iail

vehicleut the additional cost of the vesicle and thei ne-dec to put i: into orbi: doomed the sugp-incr.. (Subsequent abanf:

in favor o: the Af-na-configured

indicated that reservations about the benefits

proposed change were well fsunded.

TOP SI

That lei: wha: became the proposal af the cr.lv

surviving prospectuccessor search system that descended

4 5

more or less directly from the Corona The Coronawasodeleans c: ratherimproving the quality of Corona photography, andnotontender for continuanceew searchdevelopment. With the approval-he IJSiS. in

he management controversy involving Corona disappeared.

the NSO's Director ofSoecial Projects became responsible for virtually

49

li:evelopment and operE.tior.ai activities.

Bywas being treatederminal system.

he occasion ofth Corona flight, ineview

cf program performance sent io ail program participants by the CIA r

director rf special programs emphasized two basic Corona acr.ievtjrr.tr.:

one the covtr&ct of Soviet ICBM sites, the other the coveragehs

Middle East crises and the Arab-Israel; Warhe

[Corona ohocogriohv had confirmed Uriel! claims that otherwise wduii:

have been justly treated as 'en exaggeration of the facts."1 Prohlsm

wereelatively minor sort: the introduction of ultra-thin-oass

en Ccror^ flights early ;rcaused some difficulties thaf attractec

management attention: f'jur vears earlier, such problems would

top secr:

have meritedonthly program summaries. Corona wai io all intents andully mature System--and one with no real orosoect of enduring in operations past the introduction oil

an event that was apparently imminent. The possibility that more Coronas than were in the inventory mighteeded to provide an adequate overlap with

[received careful scrutiny between3

andnd on three occasions the review committee concluded that no additional Coronas need be purchased. Although there were dissenting opinions here and there, and particularly in the Bureau of the Budget (Office of Management andnd In the office of the president's Science Advisor, the decision was repeatedly reaffirmed.

Vet through and past ail that, efforts zo preserve and extend Corona capability continued.

Between7 andE, consideration of ar, improveiventually tt c=? reached me stags o: serious evaluation of performance potential and prooable costs. The system oemg considered would include ar. improved camera--one of two ltek cesicn* having focal lengths ofentra, resolution ofeet orinch focal length stellar-indexing camera,ore powerful booster tnan required forode:.

That combination of elements wouldotential lS-day orbital

lifetimeystem.

TO^-SECRET

The assumption underlying consideration cistill further

Lmorovcd Corona was tha: it could enter use between January and

uo3lan:in2upplementingalbasic search coverage. Program plans currcr: inthe lastystems scheduled for launch by Juneoforona systemsonfiguration wouldoperations io continue through Developmentof the camera systems had an estimated cost

to which would be added recovery vehicle and orbital

costs

the cost ofooster svstems.

n rreference tooronas would effec-li-velv create an enhance; searcr. caoability at an estimated pcr-launc:

ihat real costs would exceed

t:oout

1=

estimates bycercent was virtually certain, however.

T, initial exonerations o: quick progress in

development had largely dissipated. Acknowledgement c: difficulties came late in the month, whenFlax formally advised the Deputy

Secretary of Defense (Cyrus Vance) that the firs; Launch oil

had been deferred from9 tond then to April

Tne extension relaxes :ne funding pressors* crested by technical prociem-

- scer extension ir t: -

fwl, tne -ras; ovc Flax deemed prtcrr.:.

fundamental problem underlyingubsequently eHp.4ir.es it to Vance, was thai work oramera iwtvn paced tne balance oi in? program, and it had encountered, major cifi'i-

Trey arose in part, Flax axplained, because the

was "no: raally an intelligence collection requirement,tatement of syitrm parameters." The NRO nad therefore found it difficult to optimize tne system design "to meet realnd had been obligec t: consult both COx;OF. (Committee on Owrhtad

r,acvrra:ssance? ant VSI3 ti clarify the requirement. In the SprinfRichard Helms* CLA director, bad asked Flax to dv.ay thework onuntil rerentiv disclosed

rr-ciemi could b* resolved. Not wit:.

camera -ontmctrr, fully resolved

systemf whichontinump :perat.sr-i. Xr.dteo, althoughpros pact was not spenfivdurthermprovement waa noto: trsr quettiz:..

Tnemprove Corona through th* incorporation of ww optics and by the Inclusion c: several refinements in detail thui

on* oea>. ir.ttrwit"

i

andime woer. roCjuiroraoiWJ (or photography ir. tne coming five VMM were Ltll than certain. One proposal, both then and later, was to use anodel! Corona in combination with

to satisfy national needs tor search and surveillance ir.. proposed7 was aa improved-optics version of theCorona JO camera. ll indications, it could provideresolution capability and. in combination

satisfy basic national satellite reconnaissance requirements inrice several hundreds of millions of dollars less than that of Brigadier General James T. Stewart, director of the NRO

be

staff a: the time. Suggested to Dr. Fit* that one implication of the renewed interest*as that perhaps

down--four- to five-footday orbital life, and two ClMules being an attractive compromise. he past, one of the

motivations fcr continued attention to=

program andubs: more precisely, an

andca*ed-oowr.i

el the!

Recurrentoa composite

Coronarn ably some version ofamera) and an

v* tended tc focus on financial benefits- Ir

mDrovr

j-cvcnmall

hile the0 budge; was boinfl shaped, they extended

eoebUitv<

&Uo seme assumptions about Corona performance that were The Bureau of the Budee: argued tha: Coronaoot "best resolution,nd that ir. combination with"best resolution'

entirely satisfy foreseeable needs.

substitution c:ori

In fact, Corona was theoretically capable o: returning photographs*oot resolution, and actually did as much somewhat later, but the usut! resolution of returnedhotography tended to be from sever, to ten feel, with occasional excursions to si* feet. If the UStatement of requirements were accepted at face value. Coronaii no: serve. Tht prospective savings assumed tc* result from the

" combined ooerttions with

ould substantially exceed est.me:

were overstatedaunt was taken cf the cost rf buyingsyewsi :oicr instance* and were oridicate:

rn

r aryumsr.isexplicitly refute thai MS tHr.jK.OS, outeased it by assuming that estimates of the tim* were accurate. That, too, row errcr. ar had been true of vlrtuaiiv all orbital reset-

tle eventually inrur substantial cost groi

aswal coszshose predictedtsi; c: the Sudgt:

"Additional costs' forvsusas probablv would have beer

a DOU

osts over those estimated ir

tha; would have beer, offset, ir. they the :onsidcrablfi excess of re&ljj

isfcE, But the centra', argument remained that of coverage and

and there

an unassailable advantage

the surveillance system designed toequirement :or Ccrona area coverage atjj

resolutions.

The proposed Coronaystem was not evaluated solely in cost-benefit terms, however. It was,ery realompetito and potential rival of

6 decision by the Executive Committee of theProgram to proceedhad

wo-year controversysuccessor search system.the time it was approved forscheduled

:cr first launch later early its initially specified

ntended tc provide resolut:

ior. of|

mission life o: at leas:

periocic recovery 58

cove

capsules.

Doeratior.e

rurerwr, theisauftreaI> mt Contrived< Corona missions cos: betweej j

cos: aboutmillion each.

-

ba developed for no more tr.a- abau;

rh=j;

TOP^CRET

less ifir.ch rather thaninch focal length camera were selected. (Flying theinchhor-Aper-combination promised to requirehammerhead" configuration for the payload or an enlarged-diameter Agena; designers were wary of the first, and the second would be costly.) At the time thatade its last serious bid for consideration as an alternative to|

in some resoscts

several potentially expensive system options were being evaluated for later devclopment--part:culariy readoutthere wasconcern in executive quarters about the inability of budget managers to provide the very large additional sums needed toch cations -

thej^ ^system proposed5 was, ofilli another competitor ton that itamera of nicherrnches (focal-oot resolution,O million square mile |oer mission! coverage capability.

assuming anissions-per-year

anoramic camera system (not unlike Corona) with stereo ;overage and with estimated single-miss ion costsf betv,

H

launch schedule. (Like other orelimir.ary cost estimates, those

ere understated.

Ir tne tacc o: such4 wti Littleythan its proposer (Iiefcl untilinto th* drvcloprnen.

schedule innd thereafter eras favored mostly bv thoseof an excess MpabilUwane

unwarranted costs,

an approved program with reasonable promis

of success did no: preclude consideration of options that eitheror included the cancellation o: that program andon Corona . Inoreear after theof bu: while the camera subsystem still

v,i$ the only element ir accelerated development, the NRP Executive Committee examined five alternative approaches to providing adequate satellite reconnaissance capability for. The most extreme c: the Options was tok Ccror.e. variant cap&bi? of producm; resolution a; about theoot level. I: was disapproved on the ground

Itek, which had oner exercised aon tneaiclltte-recornaissar^ camera subsystems, was6 faced with^cc onnais jane- wcrx :nc? Corona phasec

tha:af ar.ould

about a* much t

(That observation emerged in

titer

mac- some progress toward

reftdintis, but before ir. initial schedule slippage of mo;one year had beer, acknowledged and before there was readiness to face the prospect tha: another schedule slippage of about Che same magnitude was pending.)

The second option considered in7 was simply to

rogr

variabilityontingency thennnecessarily costly, but subsequently imposed on the

by necescitv rather ihin choice. In6 the option was ndor the

(either four cr fiveach percombir,

tlon Involving seven flights c: each annually. What made the csnceU: attractive: was the prospect that it wouldudget Mvir

;: *lrr.:ii:Tr. :r, iisral6 5

se: wouldpressecroundhere was virtuall no possibility o:evinzo tht pom: of providing reeoluticr better than about -i. iand in the view oi CIA, DIA, and NPIC imlyitl, search resolution- as joodee: was needed."

Inttirtftlngly, CIA D; rector Richard Keimi was no: convinced,S, tha*.resolution, as promised or. the

rt* s:.

propramprcfera'cl: and relying on Corona for.

Finally, tnt National Reconnaissance Office. position paper for the Ull of the Deputy Secretary o: Defer.aen Executive Committee Meeting of mid-November lcoS) that "the CORONA system ha* reached tne limit of its improvement. Tne current system uses Tnor-Aecna launchesixed-filmamera. ignificant improvement to the system to bnnp resolution below five feet wouldew booster and an optical barouldevelopment costing dollars." The judgment, an auster

to cancelling

In ecsi-sff&rtiveness terms, the comparison had this appearc

j Resolution I

Kew crost fcr Peveicemer.t

Operational Costs

illion) (per vear)

Contra;

Needs

(new)

J-3

od

4

none sole so

new ct

in-

In such terms, the Corona modification would provide

marginally better resolution at much higher operatingilc tho radically changed Corona "would have development costs

s high or higher

die not offer a

That was the Department of Deiense-CIA position. The Burea; the 3udget argued that the Corona(comfcir.Etion was qutl

adequate for intelligence needs andof improvement great enough to justify its higherFiax disputed that whole contention, using argumentsproposedorona successor: both

resolution and coverage were essential. The 3oB maintained,

rona cabbie of best resolution of abouto If feet, and thaiorona hadto eight-foot resolution capability and further for low-cost improvement. .Ivc- without major changes, the budge: oeooit? contended. Coronaully adequate search capability

ive-year cos:that

In tnejsurvtvedressures for can:

laticr- and Coronaerminal pyetem. Apart from technics and roouiremontfc considerations, and institutional preferences, tho tcaue hinged an budgetary provisions, and a; the time the propesec

fiscaludgets seemed adequate. Tha:

would

more than originally estimated was apparent; the extent of that cost growth was no:. Nor had the satellite reconnaissance program vet besun to experience the considerably more severe budgetary pressures that accompanied the change in administrations following ihe election 5uch influences were nearly certain to reopen what were widely assumed to be closedncluding the future oi Corona ,

Notwithstanding the occasional 3ureau of the Budgetand6 to induce substitution of Corona

tne proposed Corona follow-on^ had thcr. been dead for nearly ihres years,

the National Reconnaissance Program, it was not until the change o: bcmir.istrations occurred in9 that such an alternativeeal possibility.

r.ac been ir

development as long.) One o; President Richard M- Nixon's prim-objectives was to reduce and reorient defense spending. The Budge: Bureau rrsponcetl, early iny reviving the proposal

cancelled Enc that its function be satisfied by"improved'1 Corona operations. Robe

contention tna;

Mayo, the President's new budget director, argued Lhat the five-yea cost differential could dc= large as j

was not

the Central Intelligence Agency flatly denied, in its9 incarnation, the revived proposal to cancel!

[

i

by rhe Department of Defense, and consequently it found

M

little favor with the Whit* House.

That seeming anomalyeflectionnaracteristlc of American government. Although the Bureau of the Budget And the Department of Defense had new senior officials, they were limited in their appreciation of circumstances by the information they received from officials who would carry over from one administration to another (the career officers, civil and military) or whe had not yet oeer. replaced by new appointees (as was the case with Dr. Flax, who remained in office until Dr. John L. McLucas succeecsd to the post of NRO Director ir. McLucas had become Air Force undersecretary in February, bu: not NRO Director). Thus the BoB and DoD positions were in large part reflections of positions taken earlier bv career employees, net appointees, and tne CIA position was wholly unchanged. Tne arguments that Mayo used is March, and tne response from the NRO and me CIA, were replays ofused by the same people" Vfctl was different was the audience and the spokesmen. David Packard was the new Deputy Secrotary of Defense, and he had firm views about bureaucracy, efficiency, and economy. Dr. McLucas still was ar. unknown quantity.

but he was Undersecretary of the Air Force, and thus more involved in the continuing affairs of their Force than Flax had been as Assistant. Dr. Lee DuBridgc. president Nixon's new science advisor, was another unknown, Mayo's position was predictable; he had been appointed under injunctions to cut defense costs, and he proposed to do so.

Reacting to Mayo's proposal ToDa vie Packar

|^ jjrather thin a

advised Br. IvicLucas on SI9 that. "This issue is closed with SoB for now and no future action is necessary. 11 The firm wording Suggested An end iz consideration of relianceorona -

capability for satellite recor-

naissance in. McLucas, Richard Helms (Director of Centr?nd John S. Foster (Director. Defense Research and Engineering) so So did the NRO staff-But Kobsrt Mayo and the newly installed senior staff of the Bureau of th* Budget resurreitec the question ir. another ecist. continued to ir-veaiicai^ various alternative: performing their principal assignment from president Richard Nixon: to reduce she defense budget.

Thc choice they next presented to the President was no less difficult and in many respects was more important. Lzie ir. March

they revived the central issueorm that presentedone of which had to be chosen i: the President's stubborn insistenceudget cutback was to be translated into real dollars. The EoB concluded that o: all the reconnaissance activities then inwo ware in many respects mutually exclusive--j-

U equally costly. ai so Inaxpen-

r.vi, in comparison, as to bs) an unattractive candidate for budget cut Yet another unexoecteciiy important contributcr to the problem wai tha course oi

sr*-

Packard approved, and by so doing maoe

scientific community.

by Dr. Lee DuBr.dge. President Nixon's choice for Science Advisor, was less than favorable to the decision. DuBridge tended, thereafter, to be Less than enthusiastic'

The issue, in the end, was which should bc^"

Apart from financial considerations and institutional

other influences hadbe weighed. One, cf some

Importance, was the earlierboth Preeidom

Tne Bureau c:uajat tavcrec

itbrasandidate) and his new Secretary of Defense, fcdelvir. Lftirdongressmen ani critic of Johnson Administration defease policies;.econd was the 5oBappyPresident's view) carryover from earlier proposals reacted by she Johnson Administrationn good concert with the Nixor.goals.

r

iaich oy tndvrection required extension land.

probably, improvement^cr.a. although that consequence *ra* nowhere made explicit.

Ir. the event, or.resident Nixon

decided to

That course would have the ef:ec: cf reducing

the total0 budiic: by^

the:

otal oi

secondary effect oi the.

be to force continued reliance on Corona, either theersion or. more probably, an improved system with some o* the capabilities of the frequentlyariation. Reaction was rapid.

iorgainst both courses to the President on the understanding tha: both Defense Secretary Me Win Laird and CIA Director Richard Kelrns planned tc appeal original decision.

Onpril, Mayo suggested to the President thatthe earlier decision might bs advisable. Several influentialapreceded him..

immediate

long-term savings wou!e

in the end), but as Mayo

saw the situation,

forwarded argument'

would be accepting the establishednd

' 7ara-'

TOx SECRET

earIA testimony during March and April reflected siir.iiar doubt*- Foster and R. C. Moot, the DoD

Comptroller, had endorsed the full proposed)

almost as soon at new officials were in place Dr. Ivan Selin holdover acting head of the Systems Analysis Office in the Departmen: of Defense, had told Packard that

Contrary arguments from Foster and

not unexpected.

The issue remained current and controversial until late May It*?. Durinc that interval few intimations of the eventual decision leaked through the higher levels of government. President Hlxoapecial (roup of advisors on IT May to discus* with him the several aspects cf the problem, the group including fech as tn* Secretary of the Air Force, th* director of the

i who had earlier headed the NROs well ai

Laird and Mayo.

i ikoit-h

No explicit consideration of the Corona problem marked I'm nesting, but thereigh probability that zr. improved Corona Leonid be required to operateearch mode|

That possibility disappeared, and with it any real possibility for continuation oi Corona, with the President's decision,

That Corona hadajor consideration in the pre-Kixor deliberations was evident, the Bureau of the Budget had been the principal source o:or Corona continuation ana imprcvemcn5 and after. Without an existent Corona capability, end the

srential for its improvement, no serious proposal for continuing

cancelling

have been made. I; waswry

rwi^is rT^Onr* isrocr^rr. oclirv that the

success of Coronarinci^al justification for the eventual cancel-

lationne sevira. generally unpromising samos systems ci tneOs, CO th* cor.ii-trtile distress cf tne Air Tcr;if rut that the

ystem for which the Air Force had ev greater fondness, was very nearly secured by the continued exceneLate-.

serious problems, in varying degree,7 was the first in more than five years marked by failure of the camera system to ooeratetereo mode, even though in some earlier instances stereo operation had been possible through only pariission.

[acuity occupied

The fundamental problem appeared toradual but not ye* severe degradation of quality control in the Lockheed facility (which actuallv was a

by Lockheed people working on Corona). Us underlying cause was the tendency of the best people ir any operation to leave once that Miration sr.terec its terming Dh&ses--einu the -rosooc: that Cor oris

continue, in any form much past the onset ofj

nonexistent by the Spring Indeed, as far asItek probably knew, that prospect hadearperturbations oi9 were atigh level thatnor project office people were likely to have knownlaz*9 thereaint possibility of substitutingCorthe search-surveillance operations

of.

As skilled workers resigned, their places becameifficult to fill; the lack of anork area where new employees could function during the extended period usually required to complete

:fievn:

Security clearance procedures arc the definitely limited future of Corona work militated against any easy solution.

Further, as both manufacturing and production tapered off, the availability of replacements for failed items lessened. pares program had not hitherto been essential because manufacturing had continuedevel rate for more thanears, and owing to the nature of space systems, "spares" were needed only to replace articles that failed in test,

The best that could be done immediately was to overhaulso as to reir.viacrale quality assurance testingto provide

for adequate spares. In time,would have to close

69

down, but that was nc: yet- For the longer term, considering that

m

Corona would remain operational for another IS toonths, John Crowley,orona manager, arrangedartial integration c: and Corona orogram activities, thus insuring some continuit;

_-- rational phas- perational

^ nencec

readiness. The solution tc personnel problems was to offer the

oeooie smsloymerii with either .Lo-kheed-Sunnyv&]

the

ut to delay

actual transfer unsil all Corona systems had beer, completed and delivered. Refurbishment of various items ofquipment as a

TOP SS

101

IS

(plant. Tram te:

tort of spares program (thushelf-life difficulty thai jniflrUv part of the quality control deficiency) would smoocrt out lome of the workload fluctuation* at the

of the checkout operationial Lockheed plant was the ultimate

70

solution, of course.

The stretchout of Corona operations to provide overlap with

nisstons created some interesting difficulties in its

right. By9 it was appar

that

system might not be able tc suppian: Corona either as fully or as soon as earlier planned; the likelihood that all available Corona systems actually would b* flown, instead of having the las: two or three treated as surplus, created unique pr-asures. Thaiever arisen in earLer program terminations, (All of the Same* Drograms had ended with surplus svstems available, as had

Argon w ery real problem existed in th* fact tha: the las: really operabl* Coror.i system in the inventoryadest bed for ultra-thin-base film and would have toualifi*d

fa

OP SJPTRE?

o re-

for the ultra-thin film being used in the last lot ofystems. The combination oi let:e qualification, and normal test and certification would cause the tyftem to experience moreperating cycle* by the timent intoumber so larce as io make continued reliability highly doubtful. Returbishmsn: was plainly in order, although it would cost nearl>

cycle the system ajor portion cf the cost arose in the necessity of having Itek reopen manufacturing and test facilities closed down with the delivery of the last regularly scheduled Corona cameras, some

weeks sari-sr.

The film test sequence and two or.-orbit exercises ofase film had demonstrated that the new material was essentially superior to the standard-thir. film earlier adopted. Although some peculiar anomalies affected the ultra-thin iiim during the first 4finy flight, degrading imagery curingperiod, quality was nevtr poorer than that oi the earliarystems, anc titer the film had stabilisedlatness problem) Imagery was appreciablynything obtiir.sble on standard-thin film..

La the:

become icily apparent to reconnaissance program managers. Ccnserucn tne refurbished" Corona intended to be the lastystem ir. th

slit

availability was repeatedly oe.aycG. The decision to what were ior practical purposes the :as: Livable Corona systems in running out the Corona overlap withj^inal stamp of approval iniew committee carefully considered the prospect of a

osge tha: would extend past the availability of the last Coronas and concluded that evenlippage occurreo (as it did,ufficie martin of safety existed. Therefore the committee recommence^ abandonee plans to purchase ndditicnai Ccrona systems. 2 7ebrchari Helm* c: the CIA and Le* DuBridgs. the President'sScience Advisor, nad concurred in the recommendation.

One other remote possibility re-ainec for the continued use c; Corona, though surely no: under that namer* Cc-rons operation objectives. The National Aeronautics and Space Administrationad approached the National Reconnaissance Office9entative oian to satisfy requirements ior an earth resources survey satellite by adapting Corona systems and technology. The notion mtricued the NRO because that ootior. would effectivelyo

manufacturing capability against some contingency that michi warrant later use c: the system. Corona superbly satisfied NASA'; basic requirements for multispeCtral imagery and for Stereoscopic coverage. And because Ccronahoroughly reliable, fully developed system for which complete fabrication and testing facilities existed, it wouldost inexpensive way of satisfying NASA needs. 5u: NASA had to choose between Corona and alternative specialized earth resources survey systems; ths NASA budget could not support both. Given the institutional tendencies of both NASA and the NRO, the outcome was. predictable.

Ir. earlyASA advised McLueas that no money for

the procurement ofystems couLd be included in the2

NASA budget. Homer Newell, NASA's Associate Administrator, asked

to preserveroduction capabilityossible

budget allocation forASA-Corona ir. 3ut the NRO budge:

was no-more flexible than tne NASA budget in such matters. Although

McJ-usas assuredhe NRO would attempt to make surplus

73

ehicles available to NASA, in fact thatcould b-

de

were tc became fully operational in accordant; with0 schedules. Should that occur, c: course, two orissions might well be scrubbed, thereittle value to

naaecu&te--owingestrictec uextotlity in reconnaissancethat stemmed directly iron: the limited residual oi Corona

operational (and Cline suggested

as an aside that he die not expect that to happen until well. coverage would be cxcellent--butost of

i&uncn,

was not suited to crisis scheduling- Nor wat

Given the probable five- to six-year wait for an operationalstem, Cline suggested tmtight b^ advisable to "reassess [the] needatellite crisis capability at least as good as that previousl

provided bystandby.1'

Clint's object was tiew examination of the basic

issue, but he conceded that funding problems ard previous commit-To

rr.entsatisfactory solution unlikely.

Ciine sent ccpitf of his letter to both Lieutenant General D. V

Bennett, DirrCtor c: the Dtftr.it Intelligence Agency, and rt. H.

Froehlke.y Packard with integrating various defer.

intelligence activities. Bennett promptly contacted Dr. McLueas and

Deputy Secretary of Dtftnit Packard to express basic agreement with

Clint's stand, again expressing concern about the potential intelligent

76

gap that would bec by exhaustion of the Corona inventory. Packard responded by suggesting that McLucas "iook at cost and

I

problems with morensurance -' He reiterated th* suggestioneeting with McLucas shortly thereafter. induce,

by early October Packard had concluded that Coronas mightedv-c

ong time, either toaunch failure or operational

failure, or torisis situation where thereothing scheduled

77

and we might want to launch an extra photo bird."

Packard pressed Helms on that issue in November. Helms responded that additional Corona vehicles could not ht obtained in Less thanonths because of manufacturing lead time considerations and that^j

rrcoably wc-ld coitcst crivtn substantially hither

In the past by the necessity of reestablishing procuctionh* added,to conform to its schedule,

C srjnii wouic ber for crisis use snouid that need arise. Finally, Helms conduced ould prefer not to spend any zi tne intelligence budget a: tnn time for additional Ccrona vehicles.

ran

nsiead believing] our objective will be better served by planning

such funds as can be made available to help cure a

problems that might arise in the early flight program. " Again, ii aopcarcd, the subject had bter: closed, And again, appearances

proved deceptive.

I^ate inr. John Martin in the President's Office of Science and Technology suggested considerationew Corona option; mall number of Corona vehiclesontingency plan chat would call for cancelling the order once complet oDcraliona: readiness had been demonstrated. The option

i

considered in some detail during the National Reconnaissance Program Executive Committee meeting cf It. the

-rr.

that additional Ccrora systems could be purchased fcnd operated at costs rangingeach in lots c: twe, :c

each in lots cf six. Assuming an immediate decision t:

proceed with the purchase of three systems (an optimum number reorcser.tins the rrerh unit costs for fewer Syitctr

Major General John L. Martin, Special Projects,

ormer NRO Director c:

about

ackaze price to; so many systems that the total would cause malor perturbation of!2 bud-ctt cancelia-tion after two montns would cost ^ rd afterh*

That calculation had beer, performedirec;

responseuestion, from Dr. Z. Z. David, the President's Science Advieorember of the NRP Executivef additional Corona systems were immediately ordered,ucces sfull

launch in1 allowed termination of the procurement, what would be the costs" What If in June or July?

Tne basic reason for Or. David's concern was the]

with Corom . Whet

beer, scheduled for

=aunch.were planned so as to provide annotr.er schedule slip, the respor.j*

visr der athat would permit1

operating at ir. altitudeiles, tc take relstively wide-areathat wcuic partly satisfy an interim search capabilityprotecting me mcr.tr. overlap throughi. io June cr1 wouldeven-month overlaptne worst case,not become operational until late

a coverage gipoonths conceivablyesult.

Chaster or

details of that modification.

vie

Protective measures included further stretchout of Corona launches (awkwardime when, as it happened, there weredemands

reater frequency of Coronar buying another

heduied

nd substituting a

the end, it appeared to Dr. David that insurar.eeliooase could be purchased for between

the decision to order more Corona systems were taken

at once. He asked McLueat to poll the Executive Committee on the

79

advisability of taking such action. Tne negative response dispose the cuestion and finally did write finis to Corona .

ebruarv. the DefenseAgency urged Deputy Defense Secretary David Packard to schedule an additional anc early

CorO

evoiutton c

Likenesses were no; a: all obvious, and surely ereanned, but they were extremely interesting ir. retrospect.

that troubled Corona, bui i:

"Jclici not have to endure the long string cf early mission failure

jwere viewed as the firs: successfu

satellite program to be conducted under "Air Force" rather thanand predecessor "Air Force" satellite developmenta? precursorseven thai difference vanished.

he thirteen attempted Launches in various of the Same* programs. ir.lv one was marginally successful (thelaunch ofecord that almost sreciseiy paralleled Corona's early history.

ooth

ntended from its start totereo system, which was not the :ast with Ccrona. but oiherwisethe evolutionary pattern of camera and recovery system changes and Improvements fcr one strikingly resembled that c: the other. Both systems acquired vastly better opt: within two years of their initial missions1

acquiring dual-recovery-vehicls

profited appreciably from the development and introduction cf improv* film, ooth were operated as "single-bucket" stereo systemsand the mitialj-

nd the double-bucket

Find both

experienced Bve-iolc improvement in resolution and reliability

during their firstears of operations. The experience of the

Corona program had. ofubstantial direct iniluer.ee on

the J{ The adoptionr.anagers

of tne Corona recovery capsule was but the best known of several

examples that extended tnroueh optical, electro-mechanical, and

orbit-control subsystems andost of specialized components,

80

orocedurcs, and technical devices.

Corona improxements included the additiontereoa second recovery vehicle to increase filmower crbita- altitude to permit better photography, better optics, and many other changes. At the end. Corona missions lasted foravs and each brought return* or. about seven million square nautical miles.

Sixteen Corona fruitions werehe Last three "ears ot

tne program, tlxourhreend two

Those flights used up tne whole cf the Corona inventory, the Corona

function thereafter was servedIn its yean cf service.

Corona had identifies anc accurately located all operational Soviet

One oi theues5 was whether or no;acci-onilroductionafeguardslippage la the first operationThe response

was to adjust the annual launch rate tor Corona, stretching th* program. Although itear thing, the last Corona available to the NRO managed to fill the data gap created by the need to deity

;hc seconc

unti

problems disclosed by the first

be corrected.

final t

years

Corona operations, three of the lb

ended in less thtn latif factory fashion. taged in Tebritarywas the victimare Thor booster failure; an attitude contrci system failure in?aused abbreviationiarr.tz Lb-day missian cc three days, although 1nttlit5er.ee return! wareood icr the period ia orbit: and failurea: array panel zz> deploy iclioweceak in the Arena gas system forced ebbreviation of the final mission in:o su: cayilanneday*;. Yet, with the exception of the entirely anorted mission (the Thorvery Corona coeratior in the final series c: iauncr.es returned reconnaisaa

information tha: rangedgood to exceptional in term* both of

81

photographic quality and intelligence worth.

By the time the Corona series ended with the final capsule recovery ont had ostensiblyillions--or missionil. In actuality, If the generally ignored initial mission failure was counted, therelight attempts, of whichnvolved objectives and payloads other thin those of the fundamental Corona program.* orona operations were attempted. Starting with flight numberfugust

r.

The records of Ccrzr.z missions, successes, and failures arebecause of the early admixture of the Discoverer and because sc many operations did notorona camera system. Two of to* firs:Ccrcr.a' fiignts carried infrared senscr systems develop*-for the subsequently cancelled Midas program; at the time they were publicly represented to be biomedical payloads. (Some biological specimens actually wers carried but theyiny fraction cf tbe totalwo etherpacecraf: of that period carried "diagnostt: payloads" rather thanuch diagnostic instrumentation was inserted into tht flight schedule in response to the initial sequence of mission failures and was intended to provide information that would identify and support the correction ofdesign defects. The end sum of "Ccrona' flights,utn all. includedrgon mapping camera pay-leads, three Lanyard instruments, ond two other payloade Irrelevant to the Corona program (flights number. (Starting with flightwo of the surviving summaries cf Corona program activities have contradictory flight and mission numbers, night numbers not cour.teca Ccrona program flight in one set, compiledut is sobe final2 accounting.

U

ull recovery capsules were usually flown. Only sever Coronl mission; af:er that time involved the older, smelt-capsule recovery system:ere of the dual-capsule Coronet ccnfipuratiur (including1 In total the Corona programilm capsules intended ior recovery. Of that total. Ic5 film capsules actually were recovered, and all but four cf them contained operational quantities of exposed film, from time to time, random systemof various kinds mace some of the film no more than marginal useful to photo interpreters, of course, but in theapsules broughtir. of enormously useful reconnaissance informal:

Through flight lo, film payicacs artlghing,r -iO pounds were carriec. Thereafter through flight number, tne film payload per capsule averaged aooutounds, anc from tha: time through the end of the prc^ram the per-capsulv average was abau;ounds (or0 fee: c: fiiml. En tbt periocc through September kcTC,otal o:ystems wer; placed in orbit, recover iv* includedapsules containingeel of film with imajesillion square mites of the earth's surface. Thoseuccessful injections alsootal oi

e

VI

11

oricinaliy flownhe ground resoluiior. of the mono-scooic Corona camera was aboutoeet. That improved to abouteet with the introduction of the C1 camera. Twelve year? later,uccession of improvements and changes the- extended from reliability enhancementost oi minor components to new boosters and spacecraft and four major evolutionary improvements in camera configuration. Corona routinely returned stereo photographyormal resolution of seven to ten feetautical mile photographic altitudes and hadbest resolution" oi5 feet fromautical miles. days-on-orbi: missioningle Corona flight ineriod usually returned picturesillion square miles of "denied'1 territory. Originally flown with only the sketchiest sort ci weather information input,thus subject to random cloud-cover degradation, Ccrona was, bycapable cf an adaptive response to weather information less than cc minutes clc. rurthf r. the adciticr.ISIC (dualtellar imaging camera), 4 and firs: flown success-fullyrovided extremely accurate altitude and position information andupplemental mapping capability to Corona that largely offset the need for special mapping missions. (Theprogram, which had its last operation inai not succeeded

T r t

f i

f another cartographic prcfgram chiefly because ofICof primary Corona capability.)

Although the original concept of film returns by wayecoverable reentry capsule proved highly successfulet of relatively minor but irksome operational difficulties were overcome, imnrovements in that aspect of Corona operations in the years1 were nearly as impressive as other system improvements, Al the end of the program, film was routinely recovered from two independently controlled recovery capsules. The last Corona capsule recoverv failure occurred in5 (causedandom malfunction of the vehicle recovery commandlthough recourse to water

pickup became necessary twice in ths succeeding seven years (one* In

82

gain in-

in the context cf its operational utility, exploitation of technologv and enhancement of th* nation's fund of Intelligence information,ad to be rated an outstanding success. Originally considerec an interim system and assumed to have, at boat, three or four years of Operational utility. Corona remained the sci* source of overflight intelligence for the United States for nearly five years, andrimary source of basic information usee tc lhapt national defense

:i9

policy forears. Although designedearch system, at the end Ccrona was providing better detail and resolution than several of the surveillance systems earlier touted to supplement it. Its

replacement

sis years in cestation and aoou:

times as costly, withal having ar. operational capability that Corona could never match.

Inears of operation. Corona cameras exposed more th

eet of filmquare miles of theurface. The last Corona satellites each carried moreeetmillimeter film, were capable of providing resolution oi from six to ten feet, surveyed about seven million square milesach mission, and returned cloud-free coverage of about three millic

Corona achievements were legion. Among those accounted most memorable when the projrem endedist c: "firsts" thatfrom "first satellite in polar orbit" through "first cual-capr-reentry capability" to "first low-altitude satellite toolar arrav." Corona was the first satellite to be recovered, the first to operate in stabilized flight, the first to be recovered from, the water, the first to be caught in descent, the first to incorporate ar

m

restart capability, the first totereo camera (and. ui

coarse, (ha first to carry any camera athe first to perform

orbtt adjust maneuvers, the first to carryatellites.

and tne first to utilize exolicit guidance equations in its control

54

circuitry. There were ethers.

Coronarincipal policy reliance of four Presidents, their defense ministers, and their chief intelligence advisors, lt was instrumental in providing data that shaped American responses to Lb* Soviet missile buildup, to the Cuban crisisnduccession of crises and conflicts in thet, along the Sine Soviet bcrcer, in India, in Africa, and tn Central Europe. The film recovery techniques conceived for Corona were to survive and suppl Several more decant predecessor and successor conceptions of the

ibt cniv ether fully. photographic

systems, mission control systems, data processing techniques, and phoxo-interpretaiior. processes. Tha: Corona was at once theexample of effective interaction between the Department of Defense and th* Central Intelligence Agencyrincipal issue of contention between them forecade mayaradoxonly in terms of Parkinsonian dialectics--but that also was part of the ultimate reality,

Even thoughot of miscellaneous information about Corona had leaked into the press from time to time, surprisinglys made of i: by supposedly well-informed space writers. Photographs published tn Caracas had clearly shown the mside--and the filmecovery bucket: aerial catch and sea retrieval operations had been repeatedly photographed; the Alsop article3 had pretty accurately described both the tnt-ced-nts and tbe initial importance of Ccrona. and it was all but impossible for intelligent coservers c; tbe strategic scene to ignore the recurrent implications of. phctopr&phic intelligence over Soviet territory inrur, onl> small lots of people knew that* all of ths many. reconnaissance satellite programs had been sterile. Nevertheless, to one looking at the indicators with knowlecgc of

u

significance, lhe failure of outsiders to trumpet the existence and tht importance c: Corona was oafflir.g Nobody even seemed to notice its disappearance in the flurry of comment about "new" Americar

punches be can

en Corona phased out there

satellite reconnaissance capabilities whe: As with the original

:nat ws>

entimental movement to preserve one example for posterity.

however. Two

a bit mcrt difficult than fo:

had survived- surplus to launch requirements

came operational. The crunch causec

RitUnc and Bissel. Worthmar. and Battle and Buzard. Chary*and Flax and McL-cas.Ssovilie and Crowley

and Naka.ost of others--though not including any of the Randwho7 had opened the Pandora's Bos by arguingheap, simple, recoverable reconnaissance satellite obtainable in tbe short termar better prospectophisticated, expensive, high-risk satellite with uncertain availability and doubtful utility.

And there was one final paradox. The success represented by Corona in thead demolished plans to rely on readout satellites for information about Soviet strategic capabilities. hen Corona was retired, technology finally had advanced to the point eteadout satellite with tbe capability envieajed for that breed twenty year* earlier waa realistically achievable. Its need was justified, at least in part, by the urgency of continuing in an era of detente tne sort of coveragead provided fcr moreecade of cold war.

And one final item: the bill. 6 program estimate for what it was assumes wouldotal ofinions (plus four launches to test equipment and concepts) wai about

Some earlv Optimists had thoughtouic be bought off

for

launch and launch vehicle costs. The

coi:, thr ouehas between

{It was difficult lo allocate costsariety of peripheral activitm thai were or were no: counted atelated from time to time, as the rules chanjrcd.) That worked out to ar. average of perhaps or each attempted Corona mission; what with odds anc

vasore

rids not accounted (or elsewhere.

representative number, but the difference was relatively inconsc-quer.tial. r^-at many totally valueless programs ofad cost more and had been canrslltd before producing any results.

Z2b

NOTES OX SOURCES Note: Various items o: detailed information used here and not otherwise attributed have been taken fromy Kenneth Greer, an article published in the CLA. Intelligence Journal cf3alent-Keyhole classification but subsequently withdrawn from circulation because it contained many elements of atcgory data. Although generally correct in matters of

ci*such programs

event and technical detail, the Greer article reflects an incomplete appreciation of the circumstances that brought Corona into being, :he roles of early participants, and the interactions of Corona with Other satellite reconnaissance activities. Ir. part, that probably resulted from constraints imposed on the author in the matter of

but it also refi

what appt&rs to be an unbalanced and uncritical reilar.ee on interv evidence obtained several years after the events had occurred. Program difficulties have been largely glossed over, in part by omission, in par; by phraseology. Nevertheless. Greer's articleseful adjunctorona history: except for those major defec remarked above, its faults and flaws are of slight consequence.

426

topsjkTret

riefing Portfolio!

Rpt, Evaluation of Itek and Fairchild Proposals for1 Corona Program, L. Crouch.AFB, e: al,ori notes.. Worthman, JOoth in 5AFS? files.

.ir CLA. to. Ritland. Cmdr, BMD, lbFR,. Worthman, Corona progrn ofc,ubj: Meeting withn Corona proj files. SAFSP.

LA toC,sgLA to LtColattle, Corona ofc, orona files, SAFSP.

LA to LMSD,IA to Battle.

"Fact Sheet.Corona Performanceoth laSAFSS files;LA to 3MD.

Details of the cngini and esriy operations of the Corona program are provided in Ch. H. this mss. See luminary flight

. ir. "Coppert files" inetired records.

The "Goppert files" contain moat of therogram records

retained ai SAFSP.

Goppert files, rpt covering Discovererhrough

LMSD Planning; Proposal: onvergent Stereoscopic Camera Svitem, about Sep cO. in SAFSP files.

MFR. Col P. Worthman, Corona ofc,an ci,MSCtereo Triple Prime; MFR.. Howard, Office SAF, Mil sties and Space,eb bl, subj: The Twin Program; MFR. Worthman.riple

Prime; craft.Secy at. to SoD.

no subj, all Iniles.

11. e andCIA tc. Battle. Corona Ofc.iror ol;1LA tc LMSD.ar andar ol. all in SAFSP files.

U. MFR,. Ford, Corona cfc.o subj, in SAFSS files.

13. .ec AF. andR.M.ir

CIA.ubj: Exploitation; memo, Chary* and Bissell to DLA,ame subj, in DNRO files; see also Vol I, this mss.

.-i. . Charvk.AF to Dir DIA,ubj:

MURAL (now CORONA-MI Background Summary.. Lane, SAFSP.ubj: Requirements for Stellar Cameraystem. Memo, BGen R. Curtia. Dir/OSAF Missiles and Space Systems, toACS/Intel, USubj: CORONA memo. Cur tin tu. Howard, OSAF MtS,o subj. all in SAFS5 files. See also Vol II. this mss, for additional detailsecr., .

Rpt toational Satellite ReconnaissanceReport, In SAFSS files; memo, BGcnR.A. Berg, Dirto Dr. A. Flas,o subj. in DNRO files.

. Curtln. Dir/Ofc Space Svjtems, . subj: NRP Status, in SAFSS files.

1'. See Vol II, this mss. for detailsevelopment,.ic AF, to Chm.Subj: Status of Satellite Reconnaissance Program, and incl. same Cite, "Summary cf Satellite Reconnaissancen NR? Rptn SAFSS files.

IB. Memo,o Chm FIAE,emo, Curttn to3

Ltr,CIA, is Battle, Corona ofc,

in Goppert

:ie

21.

22.

23.

Summary of Satellite Reconnaissance Program.ot' National Reconnaissance System Status,oth ir. NRO Rpt tor. SAFSS files; NRPuncr. History, to See Vc! II ior furtherrccra activities.

NRP Rpt topts forep

Memo, LtColH.C. Howard, DNRO staff, to Col C. Battle, SAFSS, ISo subj, in SAFSS files.

"Launchecpt. "Summary of sTToilite Reconnaissancer. NRP Rpt toeferences and descriptions ofppear in theep o2 summary, but not in that dated

DNRO. to. Greer, file 5.

S. McMillan, DNRO, tc Chm.ational Reconnaissance Program; memo.. Coyne, FLA -to DNRO- ational Reconnaissance Program Status: atchmt to memo. McMillan to Chm.ubj: National Recorjiaissance Program Status, AtchNational Reconnaissance Program Statusll in SAFSS files. Tht "Program Statusn various formats, was prepared for anc forwarded to the FLABecurring

Pi i

baslfl fromit of th* establishment of the NRPecause the NRP first appeared,he report was originally prepared on an annual, andemiannual basis (November and8 it was regularized and1 appearedemiannual report (January-June. July-December). At tne suggestion Of thet was then transformed into an annual report to be issued at the end of each iiscal year. Hereafter it will be cited as NRP Rpt to FLAB forith date of issue.1 report was six pages long; the0 issue was butages long, plus illustrations--which probably was somethingecord in its own right. (An old Parkinsonia rule of thumb is that the size and cost of reportsourth-power rateyear intervals; the NRP report grew linearly, andquare function. Indeed, the first annual report, foras slimmer byercent than the sum of the two preceding semiannuals.)

29. Details from, msgsnd XC-3. US Air Attache,HeS, CLA Caracas

to CLA1 and I IA to NRO.ug LA to LccJuneedT-iToepconcerning. Busardir Security..ir NRO Staff, toPing Cmte.ubj: CommitteeS. McMillan. DNRO, to Dir Progm A.Space Vehicle Vulnerability; memo,. Maraa.Ofc, to. Worthman. sub;:

sg, f , DNRO to Dir SP,etmemo. McMillan tc Chm. subj: National. Reconnaissance Program, in NRP Rpt to (All inAFSS files.)

JO. Briefing record, DNROS,r. Rpt NROl.

RP Program Status Rpt,emo, B. McMillan. DNRO. to Chm. FiAB.ubj: National Reconnaissance Prcgrem Status, iniles.

33. Memo, B. McMislar., DNRO, to Chm. FLAB,. sub::

National Reconr.aiSsar.ee program Status, in NRP Rpi to. See also summary rpts etcanource.

NRP Rpt to FLABidndtd, both in SAFSS files.

it. Ltr, H. Brown. SAF, to Dr R. C. Seamans, Jr, Assoc Admin, NASA,oemo note, B. McMillan, DNRO, to Brown, both in DNRO files.

36. Memo, C. Vance, DeeSoD.. Flax. Asst SAF4o subj;.irClA.. McN'amara, SoD,ubj: Assignment of Mr James O. Reber as Deputy Director NRO, memo, Vance to subj: National Reconnaissance Office, all in DNRO files; the issues that arose inre discussed in greater detail in Vol V.

. Flax, DNRO, toubj: CORONA. Management in DNRO files.

Msrna, E. McMillan, DNRO, to SoD, ubj Commen: on NRO and NRP. ir. DNRO files.

NRP Rpl. Flax, DNRO, to Com. -SIB,ubj: National Reconnaissance Program Satellite Launches, in NRO files.

Memo. LtCoiH.C. Howard. NRO staff. toJ.V. Charyk,ecommendation for Accep-ar.cr cf the Ittkroposal; msg. LMSC to4FR,. Coy, Jr.tek Cost Proposal foringle ltnsar.crarr.ic Syrtem; memo. Charykir res, CLA,mprovement of CORONA-M, all in SAFSS filts (DNRO andemo, H. SeoviUtt,ir res, CLA. to DNRO,eb 6i.mprovement of CORONA-M, in DNRO files.

42.

MGer. R. E.rogm A,NRO.prComparative Evaluation, ir. SAFSP files, memo, GreerR.A. 3erg. Chm, Study Grp.ubj:Rpt, Report oi the Findings of the AcHoc GroupEvaluate Potential Systems for an Improved SearchReconnaissance System,n DNRO files.theadabular appendices dealinc inspecific aspectsthe purposes of the comparison).

Memo,. Howard, DNRO staff, to Col J. L.ir/NRO Staff,ubj: Lindsay Letter to Dr McMillan;. Lindsay, Itek, to B.AF.o subj. both in DNRO files; msg, Dir/SP to Itek,elecon ofayetween Corona ofc and ltek.ancellation order).

. Purcell. Chm. Recon Panel, to DCI.ubj; Panel for Future Satellite Reconnaissance Op-rations, with rpt attached.

to Dt

DNRO to Dir/SP, li Juln

ul; msg,!* Dir/SP to <

IA to^

ll in SAFSP files.

Memo. E. McMillan, DNRO. to Dir, CIA,ubj: Implementation of the Purcell Panel Recommendationi DNRO files; msgs.p-

eo o'j; msg1.

DNRO to6 Aug

Memo, MGer, R. Z. Greer, Dir/SP, to. Martin. Dir/NRO Staff, t>bu CORflXA Management, in SAFSS files;

tr/SP to DNRO,ep and

;r. .SAFSS files. See also memo. Col?o subj, in Dir/S? files.

mo, Berg to

46. Memo, B. McMillan, DNRO,oD, Diro subj, DNRO files .

. Flax, DNRO, to Dir Recce, CLA, Dir SP,ur,ubj: CORONA Planning and Organizational Responsibilities, ir. DNRO files.

. Crowley. Dir SP, CIA,ir Sat Ops. NRO,

ubj: CORONA Program History, with atch: "A. Ccntur ofn SAFSS files.

. Crowley, Dir SP. CLA, to DNRO, subj. The Utilization oi UT3 in the CORONA Program, in DNRO files.

Report ofCommittee. un.econd Report ofCommittee,

4hird ReportCommittee,

. Me Luc as, DNRO, to NRP. Naka to

DNRO,econdhird Reports ci thememo, R. Helms, Dir CLA. to DNRO,ebAdecuacy ofmemo,.

DuBridge, Sci Adv to Pres. toDrJ.L ORONAyP all in DNRO

Rpt. "Improvedpparently preparedprojectforComptroller,

c:AFSS

. Flax, DNRO,SoD,ubj;bligation, and Expenditure indications for the NRP, ir. NRP ExCoir. files.

Memo,x. DNRO. toational Reconnaissance Program (NRP) Issues and Pendmc Decisions, in DNRO files.

jo. Memo, MGenj.T. Stewart, Dir/NRO Staff, to. Fiax.

DNRO, subj: Improved CORONA Study, ir. NRO files.

37. Memo, BCenR.A. Berg, Dir/NRO Staff to Dr D. Sieir.inger, PSAC,un 6S, no subj, NRO files.

56. NRP Rpt to FLAB, AFSS files.

Position paper IBoB},

Sec particularly, NRP Ex Corn Minutes, mtg ofugO files.

. Flax, DNRO,ir CiA,ubj: Data fortudy of Mapping, Charting and Geodesy, ir. NRO files.

roposal data largely obtained from Col F. S. Buzarc (ret.nterview by R.

DoD Position On NRP ExCom file*:

Min NRP ExCom3osition paper, "Proposed

I"n Mr1 Lsbv F. Hoffman; r

:.reser.tec by F. Hoffman; remarks on the A. Fiax response reflect holographic notes by Flax in the margins of the BoB paper.)

Ltr, R. P.o3, to R. Helms, DCI,otr.. Brcss, CiA, to J. L. McLucas,o subj, both in DNRO files.

. P. Mayo, Dir/Bo3, toM. Nixon, Pres. sub;, 0 Intelligence Program Savings,Berg, Dir NRO Staff, to Dr J.aperin

NRO files.

MFR..jofc.ubj: Congressional Contact with Congressman Manor; MFR. Fore.ame Subj; see also

prep by NRO staff, IIn

Cfc XIV, ir. NRO tiles. memc,, Stewart,

McConnell.ubj: Briefing to the De

of Defense,Stewart to|

Oic,ebmemo, Stewart to R. C.robabie Presidential Budget Issuesfiles.

ubj. DNRO files.

memos, Mayo tc Nixon,ergy Stewart,emo,ci Advisor, toemo,. Land etPanel ono Pres,llfiles; interviews^. Coyle and S. K. Watts,Perry, by R. Perry,

. Snyder, Corona ofc, to various,ubj: Minutes ofORONA. in SAFSS

files.

Memo, C. Ducfcen, Dir CLA Recce Progms, lo DNRO, ORONA program Planning;. Crowley, Dir Spec Projs, CIA,ame subj. both in NRO files.

. Crowley, Dir/Spec Projs, CLA,ir NRO,efurbishment, UT3 Usage andCosts, in NRO flies.

Memo, R. rielms,LA, to. DuSridge.

Pres Sc: Advisor, tc-. McLucas, DNRO,ebboth in NRO files.

. I. Newell, Assoc -Admin, NASA,.eco subj; ltr, McLucas to Newell,ubj: both ir. DNRO files.

Memo, CoIL.L. Rail. Asst Dir, or Mapping, Charting, Geodesy, to DNRO.ubj: DISIC Launch Schedule.FSS files.

'OP S

2 io

. Clir.c, Dir/Intel and Res, Dept of State, to R. Helms. Dir,o subj, DNRO files.

Memo, LtGenD.V. Bennett,oD.ubj: Continuity of Satellite Coverage. inDNROmes. (me memoolograph notation that its contents had been discussed with McLucas, DNRO.)

Holograph note. D.oD. to j. L. McLucas. DNRO.FR,ubj: Meeting With Mrct, in DNRO files.

Ltr. R. Helms. Dir CIA to D. Packard,oD,o subj. in DNRO files .

Memo, John Martin, Pres OST, to. David. Pres Sci Advsr.ORONA Re-Order insurance Costs; memo, David. McLucas. DNRO.o subj, both in DNRO files:. Hughes, DIA, to McLucas,eb 7i, Sub:aper on Need for Scheduling Adjustme: in DNRO files.

See various sections of this mss; see also NRP Satellite Launch Histyrv. iniles, which reports the results of all Corona and|" r.issicnseludes both Argon and Lanyard

rrogram results;.

Memo, McLucasLaird. ISRP Satellite Launch History, aboutuarterly Progress Rpt,cvstems,tchmt to. Duckett. Dir/CL ReconProgms, toubj: Quarterly aene* Resort: all in SAFSS tile;*.

toFR..

GoooeTtTCorona Prorm5 urogram Person

anCe

ancendtd, about Jul undid, sbo- Dec fe-i; rots, Corona Mission Summaries, variou.GoppertAFSP-

Early Samos flights returned small lots cf inferior data; See Vol

Original document.

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