Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hawkeye Works

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Kodak Corona

"An inherent limitation of film-return reconnaissance systems was that it took a long time for their pictures to reach the interpreters in Washington. This was a result of many factors, including the transportation time for getting the returned film from the Pacific Ocean far west of Hawaii a third of the way around the world to Kodak’s processing center in Rochester, New York…..."




A project that----began over forty five years ago and lasted fourteen years.
A project that----did not allow you to do any work at home.
A project that----survived twelve failures prior to "getting-it-right".
A project that----required teamwork but no motivation.
A project that----provided vital information for the "well being" of all mankind.
A project that----was kept secret for forty five years after its first success.

Speaker Bio Don H. Schoessler worked at Eastman Kodak Company for 37 years until his retirement in 1986. After nearly a decade in the Kodacolor Division he moved to the Government Systems Division as a Senior Development Engineer. In 1995 the National Reconnaissance Office honored him with the Conora Pioneer Award and this year he received the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering.


CORONA is the name for the first operational space photo reconnaissance satellite.

President Dwight David Eisenhower approved the project in Febuary 1958. The project was conceived to take pictures in space of the Soviet Bloc countries and de-orbit the photographic film for processing and exploitation.

President Clinton signed an Executive Order on 22 February 1995, directing the declassification of intelligence imagery acquired by the first generation of U.S. photo-reconnaissance satellites; the systems code-named CORONA, ARGON and LANYARD. The order provides for the declassification of more than 860,000 images of the Earth's surface, collected between 1960 and 1972.

CORONA spacecraft were built from 1959-72 by Lockheed Space Systems under Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Air Force contracts spanning 145 launches that provided intelligence the government has called "virtually immeasurable."

CORONA's payload was a vertical-looking, reciprocating, 70-degree panoramic camera developed by Itek that exposed Eastman Kodak film by scanning at right angles to the line of flight. Resolution in early flight years was in the range of 35 to 40 feet. By 1972, CORONA delivered resolutions of six to 10 feet, routinely. In the 1970s, flights could remain on orbit for 19 days, provide accurate attitude, position, and mapping information, and return coverage of 8,400,000 nm2 per mission.

The historic contributions of Edward Miller and James Plummer to satellite technology, and to the security of the United States, have earned them an honored place among engineering’s greatest practitioners. Both worked on the top-secret Corona Project (1959 to 1972). Miller received his bachelor’s degree from the university in 1950 in mechanical engineering, and Plummer received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Maryland in 1953.

The Corona Project created the field of satellite surveillance, providing vital photographic information that permitted the United States to gauge the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War and pursue more effective foreign policies. The contributions of Miller and Plummer to the Corona Project lay in accomplishing the first successful recovery of a man-made object from earth orbit.

The Lockheed Corporation took the lead on Corona. Plummer was Corona program manager for Lockheed’s missiles and space division and served as the overall systems engineer for Corona. He and a few other Lockheed engineers came up with the initial design of the satellite, which they were tasked with completing and launching within eleven months. Plummer was responsible for the development of payload applications, communications and the power supply for the satellite. Among the many technical aspects of the satellite Plummer’s team tackled were the ascent guidance and on-orbit stabilization systems. The National Reconnaissance Office has credited Plummer as the one person responsible for the success of the Corona Project.

Major subcontractors also engaged in the project, including General Electric (GE) for the recovery capsule, Itek Corporation for the camera, and Eastman Kodak Company for the film development.

Miller’s responsibilities as GE’s project engineer and program manager included the design, manufacture, deployment, operation, and retrieval of Corona’s satellite recovery vehicle. The design had to withstand many known and unknown difficulties: hostile loads during launch, acoustic noise during exit from the atmosphere, vacuum and low temperatures in orbit, and high temperatures and vibrations during re-entry. His previous work on experimental reentry vehicles and an intercontinental ballistic missile launch vehicle for the U.S. Air Force proved vital to the Corona Project.

Their efforts culminated in the first successful recovery of a man-made object from space—Discoverer 13 in 1960. A complex system of heat shields, radio communications, retrorockets, cold gas spin jets and parachutes allowed the capsule to safely jettison itself back through the atmosphere and into the Pacific Ocean, where it was retrieved. Discoverer 14, launched later that year, also was successfully recovered—this time in mid-air—and provided the first photography recorded from space, including pictures of Mya Schmidta Air Field, a Soviet base located near Alaska that the United States had never photographed before.

Miller was designated a Pioneer of Space Technology in 1985 by the Central Intelligence Agency and was honored in 1995 for his role as a Corona Pioneer. He also received the Army Distinguished Civilian Service Decoration for his work as Assistant Secretary of the Army (1975-77). Research led by Miller during that time resulted in such advanced weapons systems as the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, the Abrams M1 Tank, and the Patriot High Altitude Air Defense System.

Plummer went on to serve as under secretary of the U.S. Air Force, chairman of the National Research Council’s Space Applications Board, vice president of Lockheed Corporation, and chairman of The Aerospace Corporation. He was designated as a Space and Missile Pioneer by the U.S. Air Force in 1989 and was also honored as a Corona Pioneer in 1995. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In early 2005, Miller and Plummer received the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering—one of the world’s preeminent engineering awards—for their pioneering work in the Corona project


Richard Leghorn was Chief of Intelligence and Reconnaissance Systems Development at the Pentagon. Dick was a true visionary in the field of airborne and space reconnaissance developments, including origination of the "Open Skies" concept. As a consultant to the USAF Scientific Advisory Board and to the Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament Affairs, he was principal contributor to the early CORONA camera development. In late 1957, Dick was a co-founder and the first President of Itek Corporation.

Walter Levison was the camera designer and Assistant Director of Boston University. Walt was project manager for the balloon reconnaissance cameras and designer of the HYAC panoramic camera system. During his assignment as General Manager of Itek's Defense Systems Division, Walt was the principal proponent of the proposal that CORONA employ a high resolution 24-inch focal length Petzval lens in a panoramic camera to be used on a stable body space vehicle.

Francis J. (Frank) Madden was Itek's Chief Engineer for development of the HYAC panoramic camera, and subsequently was responsible for all engineering development of the CORONA camera system through most of its evolutions. As Chief Engineer, Frank was responsible for the physical design, development, manufacturing, and operation of the early system and later assumed the role of CORONA camera project manager. His signal contributions included the unique "starwheel" mechanism to time the movement of the complex optical system and elimination of the static "corona" which was present in the early imagery.

John Wolfe was Itek's first Program Manager on the CORONA camera development effort because of his extensive experience on the panoramic cameras for the balloon reconnaissance programs. John retained this responsibility for a number of years, providing guidance for subsequent program success.

Eastman Kodak

Edgar Green was the Program Manager for the Kodak interface with the government and camera manufacturers during the critical program implementation years. Ed's drive and initiative enabled the development of the technical film solutions required to meet the program requirements for physical and photographic performance.

James Alkofer was instrumental in investigating and characterizing the unique technical challenges for high altitude reconnaissance films. He helped develop and define the film sensitometric and spatial performance requirements for the program and assisted the government in monitoring operational system performance.

Donald Schoessler was the liaison with the Kodak film manufacturing division, providing the interface necessary for communicating the program's film requirements and directing development of films to these unique requirements. These efforts provided excellent film products; developed, manufactured, and packaged to meet the precise requirements of the film transport and camera imaging systems.

Richard Stowe provided management and technical guidance for the development, integration, and quality assurance of Kodak ground handling equipment, for films and chemistries used to government facilities, and for processing and duplication of the program films.


Corona Codename “Discovered.”


http://nro.gov/foia/SAMOS to the Moon.pdf

http://www.rit.edu/~w-secy/fellows/papers/pdfs/The Corona Program.pdf

History of Satellite Reconnaissance Volume I






William Kelly said...

Ray Martell

“There was evidence of a smoke-like presence at the time the Zapruder film was taken.”

“I was there (at Itek) in 1963-65, so it must have happened then. Their home office was in Lexington, Massachusetts, but the buildings I worked in were in Burlington, the next town over, the 128th Aerospace….back in the 1960s. Prior to ITEC I worked for Sylvania and afterward I went to the American Institute of Research.”

“Microdensitromity, is an analysis of the pictils”

“The word around the engineering department that they had deduced that there was evidence of smoke that could be attributed to a gunshot, that would be the assumption. I believe that it was localized, within a particular locality set up on an x-y coordinate system. They go in and very carefully move their apperatures and very accurately measure light intensity. Today they have various computer techniques. ITEC was in competition with Perk and Elmer down in Connecticut. It was a very high tech company, the U2 cameras, surveillance cameras, early days of telescopes for surveillance systems from space.”

EGIS projec –

“I was with the Army Security Agency, Ft. Devons, Mass., a training center that has now moved to I think Texas. NSA was basically a holding company. The NSA had three military collectors, Naval Security Service, Army Security Agency and Air Force Security Service. Each of these was a collection agency, each for their own area of interest, and all of their intelligence was funneled back to the National Security Agency. That’s the way it was back in the 1960s. After that the CIA and FBI got into the intelligence collection business and then you had the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency. Now in the last 30 years they’ve developed and you have something like 35 intelligence collection agencies that spend their time falling over each other, obstfuscating whatever is out there. But in the early day there was the NSA, which was a national holding agency, which was separate from the CIA and FBI. It was strictly a national collection agency for the collection of communications intelligence. It is now at Ft. Meade, where they moved in the 1950s, but before that they were in D.C. Arlington Hall Station in Arlington, Virginia, the HQ seat of the Army Security Agency. In those days nobody was suppose to even know of the existence of this, none of my family knew, we just worked for the Army.”

“What it looks like now, I don’t know except that it’s an organizational mess.”

“A lot of countries did not have the technology to do this, though Germany, Great Britin, they did it, but certainly won’t admit they did this.”

“There’s a branch within the security service, COMSEC, Communications Security, there was COMINT, Communications Intelligece, responsible for gathering information from whatever sources they were monitoring. Communications Security was designed to protect the cover of what they were doing, and they did monitor our own stuff. The reason for that was to determine if they were using procedures, to identify whether the lines were being tapped, if there were evesdropper, etc.


Slammer said...

No wonder there is so much space junk up there... All those launches? I'm sure that a reasonable few had to have failed. Likely some of the 'Set backs' aforementioned. Being a child of the cold war, I shake my head in amazement at the money and effort exhausted on this kind of thing. And it is more pervasive than ever. Now we have drones, Hubble... uh, the three that look downwords? And unknown covert money pits.

My opinion, it was a giant waste then just as it is now.

Sport said...

Slammer--you are alive today and living in a free society due to in great part to the results gleaned from satellite reconnaissance programs of the 60's through today. If only you knew the threats that were detected and controverted as a result of these efforts........(signed) Someone who was there.

Sport said...

Slammer--if you only knew how lucky you are to be living in a free society today. It is due in great measure to the results of the NRO programs of the 60's through today. No one who did not live through and participate in the events could understand, so I can forgive your ignorance of history.

William Kelly said...

Hey Sport, As someone who was there, can you add anything to what's been said about the Z-film being at Hawkeye Works?