O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference - June 29-30, 2005 - San Francisco, CA
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The Role of the First Spy Satellites
Ronald J. Ondrejka

Date: Thursday, June 30
Time: 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: Grand Ballroom


A brief overview by Ron Ondrejka, Project Photogrammetrist for the imaging and mapping systems on CORONA, LANYARD, and KH-9 “Big Bird” (MAPPER). 1960-1983

In 1952 the Soviets tested a hydrogen bomb. In August ’57 they successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and orbited the SPUTNIK satellite in October of that year. In February of 1960 the CIA predicted the Russians would probably be capable of putting 140-200 ICBM’s on launches by mid-1961. In May of ’60 they shot down our U-2 spy plane and we were “blind” again.

We had a “missile-gap” and were without a reliable information source about the capabilities and intent of the USSR. What did they have and where was it?

In August of 1960 we orbited our 1st successful imaging satellite…the photo-optical CORONA system and we were in business.

The presentation describes the early imaging satellites with emphasis on their contributions to mapping and targeting. A reminder. We had no computers for spacecraft or payload design of CORONA, no computers for navigation and commands, and no computers for the early years of producing maps.

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