WOW! - information on Lacrosse and SDS

Philip Chien (
Sun, 1 Mar 1998 01:20:34 -0400

I just received an incredible videotape from the NRO.  Unfortunately it was
in Beta format, but fortunately it arrived on the Intelsat launch day and I
had access to a local television station's news van.

The unclassified B-roll is intended for television stations, movies, and
others who need actual NRO footage.  A couple of years ago it would have
been impossible to even conceive of a tape like this in the open.

Unfortunately the photographs have not made it through the declassification
process yet, but they're working on it for me.

I only got to fast forward through the tape but Monday the reporter's going
to come over to my place and we're going to dub the tape.

It includes some footage of the NRO headquarters in suburban D.C., computer
animation of a Thor-Agena Corona launch (presumably because archival
footage isn't available or of adequate quality), actual film of the
in-flight recovery of the Corona film capsules using C-119 boxcar aircraft,
using the C-119s to pick up packages from the ground using a hook, using
the same system to pick up a person(!), computer animation showing geosync,
LEO, and Molniya orbits(!), computer-generated images of the Hubble Space
Telescope(!) or something very much like it staring back at the Earth, a
Titan IV being assembled at the launch pad, and a Titan IV night launch
from Vandenberg.

And then the fun stuff.  The Lockheed Martin cleanroom in Denver showing
the Lacrosse satellite (basically the same stuff which appeared on CBS News
only more-so), footage of the various Lock-Mart launch vehicle assembly
areas (Titan-Centaur, Atlases, RD-180 engines, etc.), and footage at Hughes
of the SDS birds in a *bunch* of detail.

Like I said, I only got to scan thoguh the tape but Monday I'll transfer it
from Beta to VHS (which I have here), and hopefully do some screen captures
of the spacecraft scenes.

I've given Channel 2 (WESH-TV) my blessing to make a copy of that tape for
their own purposes so I would be _very_ surprised if they didn't do a story
some time soon about the NRO's satellites.

I am considering making extra duplicates of the tape since I'm certain a
bunch of folks would be interested in having copies of this footage.  This
is a keeper folks!

More details Monday after I dub the tape and look it over in more detail.

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.