APrTOEQ FOR4 CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
TITLE: Intelligence For The Space Race
AUTHOR: Alberc O. Wheelon and Sidney N. Graybeal
irk.-. - '
STUDIES IN s
A collection ot articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Intelligence.
All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in intelligence are those of
the authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as assening or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
Prospects ond methodology forymbolic Olympian technological duel.
INTELLIGENCE FOR THE SPACE RACE
A college football coach, spurredigilant bodytoinning team, is expected to devote a
great deal of energy to whatore deadly competition would be called Intelligence activity. He must scout thebefore game time and plan his own defense and offense In the light of what he learns.ame he mustplays as they occur in order to adjust his team's tactics and give it flexible direction in action. After the game he should be prepared with an appropriate analysis of whatboth In order that his team may benefit from seeing Its experience in clear focus and In order to placate or mod-
erate the Monday-momlng quarterbacks. Although both alumni and coach recognize that football has little to do with the true purposeollege, the coach Is under relentless pressure to win games because his team, in some intangible sense, stands for the entire college.
It is much the same In the spaceame which ischaracterized by lively competition on the playing field and intense partisan Interest among the spectators.ay which Is neither rational nor desirable, our statureation, our culture, our way of life and government areto be gauged by our skill in playing this game. Because we should expect to lose as well as win matches in the series, our government must be provided by Its intelligence services with reliable foreknowledge of the possibilities for Soviet space attempts and forecasts of probable attempts, with concurrent evaluations of all attempts as they are made, and withreconstructions thereafter.
Foreknowledge and Anticipation
The first Intelligence problem Is to anticipate Soviet space launches with respect lo timing, performance, and effect on world opinion. If such forecasting Is reliably done, our own program can be so focused or rescheduled as to be mostSuppose, for instance, that one had anticipated the determined Soviet drive to Impact the moon which was finally accomplished with Lunik II In9 and hadgauged the effect of this success on world opinion. uiers' negative attitude toward the scientific value of-Sfr
ission might well have been softened or alloyedconsiderations in time to make the United Statesto accomplish this elementary feat, which wasreach also8 and
Moreeliable foreknowledge of Soviet capabilities and schedules shouldasis for determining the planned performance levels we should achieve by pushing the development of particular booster and upper stageA familiar esample of frustration in this respect is the discrepancy in performance, as measured by space payload. between the Atlas booster and the Soviet ICBM ThisIs probably correctly attributedess advanced Soviet nuclear technology. which requiredarger ballistic missile toeavierBut we should make quite sure that in the nextof space boosters we have no unfavorable balance in mission capability, and one key to settling on the appropriate performance level for this next round Is clearly good
A third assignment for Intelligence in advance of Soviet space shots Iself-servingplanning. This is particularly Important for the benefit of ELLNT effort* to intercept telemetry data and beacon signals from spacecraft which arc through the sky on unannounced and usually unknown trajectories. Because these vehicles travel around or away from the earth at great speeds, the collecting antennae not only roust be large but must beprecisely on the vehicle's trajectory. The trajectories from the Soviet launch site, however, areiven mission, and skillfully programmed digital
can readily compute the corresponding antenna steering data or look angles with an accuracy adequate to ensure early pickup of the sign sis.
Concurrent Pltght Analysis
oviet space launch has occurred. Intelligence must be prepared to move quickly and confidently Into atracking, collection, and analysis operation. Priorcomputationsariety of missions andarticular shot's Intended mission can make It possible for'most collection sites to pick up the signals on the first pass. This early pickup Is critical because only then is the spacecraft sure to be close enough to the earth to be heard by antenna-receiver combinations of standard design;apability possessed only by the Jodrelloot dish for long-range listening may beoston first-pass tracking can easily preclude subsequent pickup and so nullify the whole collection operation. But when tracking or position data is acquired during the Initial phase, it can then be used to refine the prior trajectoryand generate more reliable antenna steering data for the next pass, and so on. This bootstrap process is precisely what we have to go through on our own space shots In spite of the fact that we have far more prior knowledge about their intended trajectories and telemetry frequencies. TheIn prior information means that Intelligence. InSoviet shots, must be even more responsive and skillful than the tracking and trajectory professionals In our own programs-There is another Important aspect to current space events Intelligence. Our national leaders are expected to makeand appropriate comments on each new Soviet spaceIt Is unsatisfactory to defer to Soviet claims in framing such comments, and it is therefore the Job ofto provide accurate technical facts with great promptitude. Technical Information on unsuccessful Soviet space attempts would also be required If It should be decided to comment publicly on this aspect of the competition- If such statements by our national leaders are as authoritative and complete as possible. Congress and the public will be leas likely to give undue weight to the rash of scientific but often
Ill-informed opinion which bursts upon us with conflicting and confusing effect In the wake of Soviet spaceetermined leadership well supported by intelligence canour national bearing and self-confidence during the times of lost matches which are bound to come.
Post-Pliant Study and Reconstruction
Even when the dust stirred upoviet shot has settled, intelligence services still have before them an important set
program, and it provides the only sure basis for technicalIt Is also hard work.
A great deal of technical data becomes available toeriod of several monthsaunching from the Tyura Tarn complex, but much of it Is low-grade ore which can only be comparedhcnomenological basis with similar material from previous shots. Another source is telemetry data, whichreat deal of valuableInformation. In point of fact, the telemetrymost of the Information the Soviet engineers themselves gethot. Our exploitation of this unique source,is less efficient than the Soviet because, first, we do not know which measurement Is assigned to which channel,we do not have the calibration or absolute values ofon the several channels, and third, we do hot intercept transmissions covering the entire flight because of radiolimitations. Painstaking technical analysis has gradually solved many facets of the channel identification problem and is making encouraging progress on calibration. The problem of early Intercepts, to which analysts attach great importance for speeding the solution of the other two puzzles, is one for intelligence collection components.
The technical characteristicsiven shot can beextracted from telemetry by professional missilewho have reviewed all prior shots in detail, and the gross featuresoviet space shot can usually be thus established within the first few hours by an experienced technical man. The variations and nuancesiven flight, however, which can be equally Important, may require weeks of concentrated efforteam of subsystem specialists working together.
This kind ol analysis can eventuallyather clearof mission performance and the technical features of the missile hardware used to achieve it. One strikingof such detailed post-flight analysis, the reconstruction of Soviet payload capability. Is described in an appendix to this paperood illustration of the techniques used.
An Important facet of the post-flight reconstruction isanalysis. If one can establish launch time to theminute by identifying fixed events reflected in the-etry; one canreat deal.about the mission objective andv-the techniques being used for lunar and InterplanetaryFor example, the launch time ofMechta)9 indicates that this "solar satellite" was very probably an unsuccessful lunar hard Impact attempt whichuidance fault went into its fall-safe orbit about the sun. One can also tell from launch date and timeinimum-energy trajectory was used in order to maximize the payload or one favoring better guidance was selectedacrifice of payload.1
It is also Important to analyze data from the space pay-loads themselves. Usually this means telemetry data, which must be correlated with announced Soviet scientificand our own Impressions of how particular experiments ought to be reflected on one of the many unidentifiedchannels. On the flights of Major Gagarin and Major Titov, by exception, weource of data in televisionwhich left little doubt about the success of theirbut it would have been good to know also Just how-the recoveries from orbit were managed.
The broadest continuing objective In post-flight analysis, however, is to understand the Soviet space program as apresent, and future. The program in this larger sense Is seenomplete schedule for achievement andcovering the selection of objectives, the development of techniques, and the exploitation of successes.igorous Soviet logic almost certainly Interrelates these dif-
"These deductions reauy require knowledge of the launching azimuth as well as the launch time, but the azimuth Is almost invariably supplied by radar returns, beacon tracking data from radiolnstail&uona, or Soviet announcement*.
ferent aspects of the program, therehance of using the logical relationship to understand and anticipate It
The Soviet program Is characterized, for example,equential attack on prominent space "firsts" In order ofdifficulty. All resources are pourediven space objective until it is accomplished; but, except for thedevelopment &hots required beforean into space, missions are not repeated. Another consistent feature of the program is the remarkably small number of distinct
been used versatilelyumber of different roles. Theof Soviet preplanning and design Integration Is further illustrated In the adoption of very narrow limits for the firing azimuth for all space and ICBM shots, whicheavy Investment In tracking and instrumentation facilities along the single range economically possible. This consistency and simplicity, however,.table frame of reference for analyzing the Soviet program.
It Is well that the formidable task ahead of spaceis temperedumber of simplifications like thatby the inherent logic of the Soviet program. There are two other simplifyingundevtatingof possible launch times and dates for Interplanetary missions, and the costliness ofpace capability.
The laws of physics and celestial mechanics, invariant in Soviet Bloc and Western applications. Impose severeon trajectories that can be flown to the moon and planets. These, in turn, determine the allowable launch times from our spinning launch platform, the earth. The times thus predicted have been found to agree very closely with actual flight data. Indicating that tables of possible launch times can serve as useful guides in anticipating andSoviet space attempts. These tables cannot tell, of course on which possible date the Soviets will actually elect toiven mission, but they do narrow the range tremendously. They are prepared annually for both direct ascent andorbit trajectories to the moon, and they have been made
up for Mars and Venus shots as these mission*ears, respectively.
The current space raceuel only, and It will remainsome time. The small nations may fire soundingconsiderable quantity and even launch earth satellitescooperative basis, but they aretrict economictbe capital Investment and development costs forbooster vehicle with significant space performanceare staggering. Only the Soviet Union and Unitedhave thus far undertaken this burden, and ihe>to remain the principal competitors for the nextis an evident advantage for space Intelligence that alland analysis resources can be focused on a
The space Intelligence problem is nevertheless not onlybut. unlike most other technicalew ballistic missile being developed is of concern and commands considerable attention until Itsand the magnitude of its operational deployment have been determined. Once these are establishedirings assume less significance. Each new Soviet space mission, however.resh flare in the skyew. Imaginative analytical effort The variety of space missions will expand rapidly as basicin space technology grows In both nations. Thisproliferation will probably be accelerated when thedevelop new upper-stage vehicles and eventually even larger boosters.
So far we have seen but the first gameeries which promises toong and taxing competition. The pace will quicken, and It will Increase the popular and executiveon Intelligence. The prospective consumer demand for successful Intelligence efforts suggests that long-termof collection and analysis resources is amply warranted.
APPENDIX: DETERMINATION OF PAYLOAD CAPABILITY The verification of claimed Soviet space mission payloads Is important not only because of the competitive nature of space achievements but also because of the possibility of turning payload capability to decisive military applications. We are
he Soviets continue to use their basic ICBM as booster on all space attempts, to esta? Ush readily whether the payioad wrtgnlcWmedarget lar mission is within their capability.atter ofone can state In advance the payioad capabilityariety" of rmsslons they might undertake. This is possible because
* of interestHhot 1
ofU, WM characleri^ by the corre^ ^dependent sources, data
computation and crosschecking, several lucky breaks, and *
g!re proWema" 'on about il Shi?ere genenUIy measurements, thehysics provided the correlator, and the solutionartlcu-
Burnout Speed and Lunik Weight The Soviets had been firing ballistic missiles and space ve-
weingle measurement that could start the solu-
nZor the three Sput-
niks constituted our only sources, and these had to be rated
in the absence of either Internal consistency orevidence.
began to record
telemetry signals from both ICBM's and space shotsflight. The telemetry format or code was aof an channels were readily
radio horizon. Several of the channels recorded had evidently conveyed missile velocity and acceleration, data of immediate purport to the performance problem. Ordinarily, however these Intercepts covered only the laster cent of the flight and provided no means to determine the absolute values of the measurements. But during the summer9 abnormal
conditions madeeak Intercept which, with extraordinary effort, yielded telemetry records running from before launch to well after burnout. This Intercept, since the total number of digital clicks on theach representing one unit of acceleration, could be equated with the burnout speed required for the free-flight trajectory to the Kamchatka peninsula, established the all-Importantmeter calibration. That was the first lucky break, but It was still not enough, for one had no reliable idea of the
was scon obtained by alucky break. Covertly, we were able to acquire detailed data about the upper-stage rocket vehicle shown In Figurehe Lunik stage which mates directly to the Soviet ICBH. Although these data were Incomplete, especially with respect to the motor, one couldood estimate of the vehicle's performance capability by calculating Its dry weight against the quantity of normal propellants Its tanks could hold. The result checked rather well with the Soviet payloadfor Lunik I. The stage weighedounds dry, and it looked as though it would weighO0 pounds with the propellant tanks filled and the payload on board.
In September and again In October9 the Soviets launched successful lunar probes. Telemetry was received from the powered flight phase of the upper stage, and It was possible to Identify this vehicle with the one reconstructed from covert data. More Importantly, new long-range radar sets tracked the ICBM tanks which had been used to boost It. These traveled0 nautical miles on both occasions and hit the water not far from the radar Itself.
Here was the missing piece to the puxxle. Had the Lunik stage not Ignited, It too would haveiles with tbe empty ICBM. Since the Lunflc weight had been fixed at0 pounds fully loaded, one could state with highthat the ICBMapability of0istance0 miles. From these figures we could compute thrust and weight schedules for the basic booster. Having previously determined the calibration of the velocity meter, we could reliably convert this performance demonstra-
lion lo other ranges and draw range-payload curves for theesult not without significance In another context. Of special Importance was the discovery that the ICBM thus reconstructed could placeoundsow-altitude satellite orbit such as that of Sputnik ill This calculated weight agreed with what the Soviet* claimed for Sputnik III and tended to increase our confidence In such statements.
For purposes of solving the space payload problem the per-
' relatively easy task,umber of sources bore
It elocity meter measurement identical with that
noted In the ICBM telemetry was found In telemetry from the Lunik stage, Indicatingommon instrument had been employed on the pair ofecause this instrument had previously been calibrated through our lucky complete Intercept from the ICBM, the performance of the Lunik stage could be estimated with high confidence using the empty and dry weights we had established. This checked exactly with the velocity change required to reach lunar escape speed after ICBM burnout as reconstructed from the radar data. The performance of the Lunik stage was thus established with confidenceumber of independent sources. Morethe calculation reproduced the announced payloads of each of the three Lunik shots with good accuracy,both an Internal consistency and Inherent veracity Inpayload claims
It was no surprise, therefore, when0 tbe Sovietsthat they had placed an over-lO.OOO-pound space cabin into satellite orbit as Sputnik IV and subsequentsatellites leading up to Major Oagarln't flight around the earth. When telemetry confirmed that an ICBM-Lunik combination had In fact been used to power the cabin Into orbit, one could corroborate the Soviet claim withten thousand pounds was Just the payload-ln-orbltthat had been calculated for the combination.
'The same pendulous gyro Integrating accclerometer la also noted In telemetry fromnauUcal-mlle ballistic missile flown out of KapusUn Yar.emarkable standardization.
A comparable analysis was done for Soviet attempts to reach Mars in0 and Venus Inlthough an entirely new heavy upper-stage vehicle was used in these four shots, an analytic effort very nlmHar to that described above led rapidly to the technical reconstruction of thisand of the performance it could achieve in combination with the ICBM. The solution was again accelerated because we had already calibrated the basic ICBM through powered
stage inounds)1 and the payload toward0 pounds) on
1 Mission* oJ the
With the results of this technical analysis one can establish reasonable limits for the payload capability of the Soviet ICBM in combination with Lunik upper-stage vehicles for spacenot yet performed. With the vehicle used for the Oa-garin-Titov flights, the following missions could beon direct ascent trajectories with the maximum pay-loads indicated.
Lunar BatelUte, 5Wpounda;.r^
arth SatelliteCOO pounds
A combination of the ICBM and heavy injector stage withrockets firingoasting orbit, as in the Venus probe of last February, could perform the following missions:
Kara or Venusounds
Lunar Soft landing BOO pounds
Lunar ClrcumTolatlon and Aerodynamicpounds
If the Soviets were to develop an additional upper stage of high energy,pecific impulseeconds, their pay-load capability for the space missions listed above would be about doubled. Ifehicle were used as an orbiting in-
Jector stage In combination with the ICBM and present heavy stage, the following missions would be possible:
Lunar Sort Landing and Return vlth Aero-
dynamic 5O0 pound*
Solar System Escapt ISO pound*
One should note that the conununicaUoria equipmentbeyond Saturn would probably weigh there than the
" - payload capability. Nonetheless, it Is clear that
therereat deal of mission capability left In the existing Soviet ICBM as basic booster for various upper-stage
till! HI IOriginal document.