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A History of Satellite Reconnaissance. Volume 2A. SAMOS (REDACTED)

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This volume of A History of Satellite Reconnaissance includes two parts, separated mostly because of bulk. It covers the origins, progress, and eventual demise of the satellite reconnaissance system generally known as Samos over a period extending from initial program acceleration in 1957 following nearly 10 years of studies and very modest technical development activity, the whole costing rather less than redacted to the cancellation of the last photographic system in the Samos series in October 1963. Actually, work on the last of the real Samos systems was terminated in July of that year, but a halfbreed survivor, Lanyard, lingered on for another three months. Samos and its close relatives were distinguished from other photographic reconnaissance satellites in several respects. Notably, the six numbered systems in the E-1 through E-6 series were under high but ordinary security controls. Lanyard was an exception, and Spartan might have become a second had it survived but Lanyard represented an attempt to transfer the better parts of one Samos system, the E-5, to the technical and operational environment of the highly successful Corona. It was attractive mostly in the absence of any alternative system with resolution better than that of Corona-- about 17 feet at the time. Once a better system emerged and even Corona shortly managed to surpass Lanyard performance, while Gambit made it totally inconsequential, Lanyard was an anachronism. As for the others, that they were given no special security protection said something of their reconnaissance programs. The Samos program cannot be addressed in perspective without including consideration of Gambit. The covert more properly, clandestine photo satellite program established concurrently with the E-6 program but conducted in quite another environment--and with very different results. The background and antecedents of Gambit are, therefore, discussed in terms of their relationship to the original Samos effort.

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  • Military Intelligence
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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