Encyclopedia Astronautica
KH-4B



kh4b.jpg
KH-4B cutaway
Credit: CIA
American military surveillance satellite. 24 launches, 1967.09.15 (KH-4B 1101) to 1972.05.25 (KH-4B 1117). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'J-3' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 1.8 m.

Ground swath was 16 km x 217 km. Also carried a DISIC (Dual Improved Stellar Index) camera, with a focal length of 91 cm, a ground resolution of 30 m, and frame coverage of 260 km x 260 km.

Gross mass: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb).
First Launch: 1967.09.15.
Last Launch: 1972.05.25.
Number: 24 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Thorad Agena D SLV-2H Thor Agena upgraded with Long Tank Thor stage. Variant with straight tank from Delta was Thorad (Long Tank Augmented Thrust Thor Delta) More...
  • Thorad Agena D SLV-2H Thor Agena upgraded with Long Tank Thor stage. Variant with straight tank from Delta was Thorad (Long Tank Augmented Thrust Thor Delta) More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...
  • Lockheed American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, CA, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • McDowell, Jonathon, "US Reconnaissance Satellite Programs Part 2", Quest, 1995, Volume 4, Issue 4, page 49.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Payne, Philip, Personal communication, December 1, 2000.,

Associated Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC1W Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC3W Delta, Atlas launch complex. First designated LC1-1 and used to launch Atlas Agena B with Samos payloads. After Samos cancellation, rebuilt in 1963 to support launch of KH-4 Corona spysats atop Thor-Agena. Refurbished in 1973 to accomodate surplus Atlas ICBM's in space launch role. More...

KH-4B Chronology


1967 September 15 - . 19:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC1W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 512 / Agena D 1641.
  • KH-4B 1101 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1101 / Agena D 1641 / OPS 5089. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1967-10-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 2946 . COSPAR: 1967-087A. Apogee: 372 km (231 mi). Perigee: 156 km (96 mi). Inclination: 80.0000 deg. Period: 89.70 min. Summary: KH-4B. First mission of the KH-4B series. Best film to date..

1967 December 9 - . 22:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC1W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 514 / Agena D 1642.
  • KH-4B 1102 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1102 / Agena D 1642 / OPS 1001. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1967-12-25 . USAF Sat Cat: 3063 . COSPAR: 1967-122A. Apogee: 248 km (154 mi). Perigee: 151 km (93 mi). Inclination: 81.6000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: KH-4B. Noticeable image smear for forward camera, but best imagery to date..

1968 May 1 - . 21:31 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 511 / Agena D 1643.
  • KH-4B 1103 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1103 / OPS 1419. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1968-05-15 . USAF Sat Cat: 3228 . COSPAR: 1968-039B. Apogee: 243 km (150 mi). Perigee: 164 km (101 mi). Inclination: 83.1000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. Summary: KH-4B. Out-of-focus imagery is present on both main camera records..
  • SRV 807 - . Payload: SRV 1103-1. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1968-05-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 3232 . COSPAR: 1968-039C. Apogee: 199 km (123 mi). Perigee: 142 km (88 mi). Inclination: 83.0000 deg. Period: 87.90 min.

1968 August 7 - . 21:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 522 / Agena D 1644.
  • KH-4B 1104 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1104 / Agena D 1644 / OPS 5955. Mass: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1968-08-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 3336 . COSPAR: 1968-065A. Apogee: 259 km (160 mi). Perigee: 160 km (90 mi). Inclination: 82.1000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Summary: KH-4B. Best imagery to date on any KH-4 systems. Bicolor and color infrared experiments were conducted on this mission..

1968 November 3 - . 21:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 515 / Agena D 1646.
  • KH-4B 1105 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1105 / Agena D 1646 / OPS 1315. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1968-11-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 3531 . COSPAR: 1968-098A. Apogee: 288 km (178 mi). Perigee: 150 km (90 mi). Inclination: 82.2000 deg. Period: 88.90 min. Summary: KH-4B. Image quality is variable and displays areas of soft focus and image smear..

1969 February 5 - . 21:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 519 / Agena D 1650.
  • KH-4B 1106 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1106 / Agena D 1650 / OPS 3890. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1969-02-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 3672 . COSPAR: 1969-010A. Apogee: 275 km (170 mi). Perigee: 147 km (91 mi). Inclination: 81.6000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Summary: KH-4B. The best image quality to date..
  • SRV 801R - . Payload: SRV 1106-1 / OPS 2644. Mass: 60 kg (132 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. USAF Sat Cat: 3673 . COSPAR: 1969-010B. Apogee: 1,428 km (887 mi). Perigee: 1,391 km (864 mi). Inclination: 80.4000 deg. Period: 114.00 min. Summary: ABM monitoring..

1969 July 24 - . 01:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 545 / Agena D 1652.
  • KH-4B 1107 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1107 / Agena D 1652 / OPS 3654. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1969-08-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 4050 . COSPAR: 1969-063A. Apogee: 203 km (126 mi). Perigee: 182 km (113 mi). Inclination: 74.9000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: KH-4B. Forward camera failed on pass 1 and remained inoperative throughout the rest of the mission..

1969 December 4 - . 21:37 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 549 / Agena D 1655.
  • KH-4B 1108 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1108 / Agena D 1655 / OPS 6617. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1970-01-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 4264 . COSPAR: 1969-105A. Apogee: 229 km (142 mi). Perigee: 161 km (100 mi). Inclination: 81.4000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: KH-4B. Cameras operated satisfactorily and the mission carried 811 ft of aerial color film added to the end of the film supply..

1970 March 4 - . 22:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 551 / Agena D 1657.
  • KH-4B 1109 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1109 / Agena D 1657 / OPS 0440. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1970-03-26 . USAF Sat Cat: 4342 . COSPAR: 1970-016A. Apogee: 257 km (159 mi). Perigee: 167 km (103 mi). Inclination: 88.0000 deg. Period: 88.80 min. Summary: KH-4B. Cameras operated satisfactorily but the overall image quality of both the forward and aft records is variable..
  • SRV 819 - . Payload: SRV 1109-1 / OPS 3402. Mass: 60 kg (132 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1971-11-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 4343 . COSPAR: 1970-016B. Apogee: 509 km (316 mi). Perigee: 441 km (274 mi). Inclination: 88.1000 deg. Period: 94.10 min. Summary: Radar monitoring; may or may not have existed!!!.

1970 May 20 - . 21:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 555 / Agena D 1656.
  • KH-4B 1110 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1110 / Agena D 1656 / OPS 4720. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1970-06-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 4405 . COSPAR: 1970-040A. Apogee: 247 km (153 mi). Perigee: 162 km (100 mi). Inclination: 83.0000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. Summary: KH-4B. The overall image quality is less than that provided by recent missions and 2,000 feet of S0-349.

1970 July 23 - . 01:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 556 / Agena D 1654.
  • KH-4B 1111 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1111 / Agena D 1654 / OPS 4324. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1970-08-19 . USAF Sat Cat: 4477 . COSPAR: 1970-054A. Apogee: 379 km (235 mi). Perigee: 156 km (96 mi). Inclination: 59.9000 deg. Period: 89.80 min. Summary: KH-4B. The overall image quality is good..

1970 November 18 - . 21:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 552 / Agena D 1658.
  • KH-4B 1112 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1112 / Agena D 1658 / OPS 4992. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1970-12-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 4721 . COSPAR: 1970-098A. Apogee: 227 km (141 mi). Perigee: 180 km (110 mi). Inclination: 82.9000 deg. Period: 88.50 min. Summary: KH-4B. The forward camera failed on pass 104 and remained inoperative throughout the rest of the mission..
  • SRV 827 - . Payload: SRV 1112-1 / OPS 6829. Mass: 60 kg (132 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1977-09-14 . USAF Sat Cat: 4722 . COSPAR: 1970-098B. Apogee: 505 km (313 mi). Perigee: 493 km (306 mi). Inclination: 83.1000 deg. Period: 94.60 min. Summary: Radar monitoring..

1971 February 17 - . 20:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 537 / Agena D 1659. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: U.
  • KH-4B 1113 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1113. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1971-02-17 . COSPAR: F710217A. KH-4B. The launch vehicle had a very cold boattail due to a hose discovered to be leaking away warming air to the boattail. The boattail was colder than usual, below freezing. Based on earlier tests of the Thor for just that condition, as relayed by Ed Dierdorf, Thor chief engineer at the time, the temp low was of no concern.

    The only problem was that those tests were made with a Thor that carried a Rocketdyne engine lubricated with "lube oil". The Thor being launched used a fuel additive, "Orinite" (like STP "super snot"). The technician that pumped the Orinite into its cannister later stated, "It wasn't for lack of orinite. I put it in just like the procedure said, and I could feel when it was full (with the hand pump). To make sure, I gave it another slug."

    That "other slug" cracked the output valve that was only supposed to be cracked by turbopump output pressure. When it cracked the output valve a bit of the "honey" squirted down the tube toward engine bearing jets. This line had a low spot in it by design. The Orinite settled there. When it was chilled by the low temp air at lox loading, the Orinite formed a plug.

    Unaware of this chain of circumstances, Launch Director Philip Payne made the decision to launch. The rocket (carrying Agena D and payload) flew for 18 seconds, then wiped out its gears, causing the turbine to overspeed and shed its vanes. These punctured various parts in the boattail like machine gun bullets. With loss of power, the rocket fell not far from the launch pad into Bear Creek canyon.

    The final cause was therefore found to be loss of engine lubrication at startup.

  • SRV 825 - . Payload: SRV 1113-1. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. COSPAR: F710217B.
  • SRV 826 - . Payload: SRV 1113-2. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. COSPAR: F710217C.

1971 March 24 - . 21:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 538 / Agena D 1660.
  • KH-4B 1114 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1114 / Agena D 1660 / OPS 5300. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1971-04-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 5059 . COSPAR: 1971-022A. Apogee: 245 km (152 mi). Perigee: 156 km (96 mi). Inclination: 81.5000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: KH-4B. The overall image quality is good and comparable to the best of past missions. On-board program failed.

1971 September 10 - . 21:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 567 / Agena D 1662.
  • KH-4B 1115 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1115 / Agena D 1662 / OPS 5454. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1971-10-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 5468 . COSPAR: 1971-076A. Apogee: 234 km (145 mi). Perigee: 157 km (97 mi). Inclination: 74.9000 deg. Period: 88.30 min. Summary: KH-4B. Overall image quality is good..
  • SRV 831 - . Payload: SRV 1115-1 / OPS 7681. Mass: 60 kg (132 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; USAF. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1976-02-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 5469 . COSPAR: 1971-076B. Apogee: 516 km (320 mi). Perigee: 489 km (303 mi). Inclination: 75.0000 deg. Period: 94.70 min. Summary: Radar monitoring..

1972 April 19 - . 21:43 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 569 / Agena D 1661.
  • KH-4B 1116 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1116 / Agena D 1661 / OPS 5640. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1972-05-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 6003 . COSPAR: 1972-032A. Apogee: 276 km (171 mi). Perigee: 154 km (95 mi). Inclination: 81.0000 deg. Period: 88.80 min. Summary: KH-4B. Very successful mission and image quality was good..

1972 May 25 - . 18:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2H. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2H Agena D 571 / Agena D 1663.
  • KH-4B 1117 - . Payload: KH-4B s/n 1117 / Agena D 1663 / OPS 6371. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO; CIA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: KH-4B. Decay Date: 1972-06-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 6037 . COSPAR: 1972-039A. Apogee: 305 km (189 mi). Perigee: 158 km (98 mi). Inclination: 96.3000 deg. Period: 89.20 min. Summary: KH-4B. Last KH-4B mission. Very successful mission, image quality was good. Final CORONA mission..

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