Re: Spy Satellites at the Air Force Museum

From: Dave Waterman (
Date: Tue Jan 31 2012 - 10:27:08 UTC

  • Next message: Peter Wakelin: "SATOBS 2012 January 30"

    I observed the first Big Bird (71056A = #05297) twice in July 1971.
    Aviation Week JUne 21 1971 p15 has:
    New Recon Satellite
    U.S. Air Force launched the first of a
    new generation of photo-reconnais-
    ance satellites into polar orbit June
    15 at 11:41 a.m. PDT, from Vanden-
    burg AFB, Calif, with a Martin Mari-
    etta Titan 3D, the first time the giant
    launcher has been used.
    The new Lockheed-built satellite is
    believed to weigh approximately
    25,000 lb., or more than three
    times the weight of the largest recon-
    naissance satellites previously or-
    bited. The design, unofficially called
    "Big Bird," carries a very high-reso-
    lution camera built by Perkin-Elmer
    Corp. First flight, scheduled for late
    1970, was delayed due to problems
    with the new camera.
    A much longer article Aug 30 p12 & 13 compares the new Big Bird
    with previous recon satellites, with info on the targets.
    The only significant extra info on the new payload is:
    "The spacecraft, a modified Lockheed Agena measuring approximately
    10 ft. in diameter and nearly 50 ft. long" ....
    Mike Waterman 		 	   		  
    Seesat-l mailing list

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