258 – The History and Technology of Spy Satellites
Guest: David Baker Host: Markus Voelter Shownoter: Alexander Grote
In this episode we speak with David Baker, who wrote a fascinating book about spy satellites. We cover the political and military context that drove their development, their (known and suspected) capabilities, methods of recovering the images, as well as typical orbits and the sartellites’ ability to change that orbit for quick repositioning.
Here are the videos I mentioned on the show:
- The Last Bucket Catch
- Corona Project: “A Point in Time” 1995 CIA
- First Spy Satellites: “Corona Project Overview”
- CIA Spy Satellites : The Corona Story
- The Top Secret Satellites Documentary
- Spy in the Sky – The KH-9 Hexagon
- HEXAGON – Sentinel of Liberty
Introduction of David Baker00:01:53
Spaceflight Magazine and British interplanetary society | Davids books | Davids Spy Satellite Book | Boeing | Lockheed Martin | Northrop Grumman
Intelligence | Reconnaissance | Dwight D. Eisenhower | Wehrmacht | Soviet Union | NATO | Open Skies Treaty | V2-rocket | Orbit | International Geophysical Year | Spyplanes | U2-Spyplane | Bomber Gap | Sputnik (1) | ICBM | Wheat supply to Russia
Instrumentation on Satellite00:29:23
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) | Stationary Orbit | EM-Spectrum | Airy Disk (optical resolution) | Radar | Corona | Kennen | Direct tv broadcast | Film bucket and Bucket recovery | Keyhole designation | Zenit 2 Rocket | Atlas Rocket | Thor Rocket | C119 | C130 | SR71 | SCUD Missle | Neutron Sniffer
Polar Orbit | Cape Canaveral | Stereo Camera | Secundary motor | Early warning satellite | Strategic defense initiative | Kinetic Weapon | Space proliferation treaty | Optical abberation | Dorian | Manned Orbiting Laboratory | Satelite refuelling | Tracking and Data Relay Satellite
Spy Satellites Today01:49:03
Excellent episode with a very interesting topic and guest. Just bought his book!
Great episode. In fact, it made me order the book too! :-)
Very nice episode again, many thanks! This guest sounds like he could fill another episode…
One thing I was wondering about: at 1:30:55 David says that he has images in hand that shows the Columbia to be fatally damaged. This is the first time I hear this. In fact, I just read in John Young autobiography “Some engineers recommended that NASA ask DOD to provide images taken by spy satellites to assess the damage. Those pictures were never taken because the request was never made.” (p. 341) A similar statement exists in the Columbia Accident Report (Sect. 2.5).
So, did the NRO take those pictures out of their own interest, or did David confuse this with the instance of STS-1, the story of which is nicely told in Rowland White’s “Into the Black”?
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Very good episode!
Probably a stupid question, but it is mentioned that the buckets separated or were dropped from the satellite — was that sufficient to actually deorbit them? Were there thrusters on the buckets?
Good question. I guess they were given a slight “push” to slow down.
It looks like David Baker may be a fraud, and you one of his victims:
Hm. Bad news. Thx!