Encyclopedia Astronautica
Military surveillance sat


Category of spacecraft.

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Associated Spacecraft
  • Zenit Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1956. Work began on the original Zenit spy satellite on 30 January 1956. After the success of Sputnik Sergei Korolev advocated that manned spaceflight should have first priority. More...
  • KH-1 American military surveillance satellite. 22 launches, 1959.01.21 (Thor Agena test) to 1960.09.13 (Discoverer 15). First US film reconnaissance satellite, and first polar orbiting satellite. More...
  • Samos American military surveillance satellite. 17 launches, 1960.10.11 (Samos 1) to 1962.11.11 (Samos 11). First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; program still partially classified, evidently due to embarrassment. More...
  • KH-2 American military surveillance satellite. 10 launches, 1960.10.26 (SRV 506) to 1961.08.04 (SRV 512). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried one 'C-Prime' panoramic camera, with a focal length of 61 cm and a ground resolution of 9 m. More...
  • KH-5 American military surveillance satellite. 16 launches, 1961.02.17 (Discoverer 20) to 1964.08.21 (KH-5 9066A). US mapping satellite. Carried one frame camera, with a focal length of 76 mm, and a ground resolution of 140 m. More...
  • KH-3 American military surveillance satellite. 12 launches, 1961.08.30 (Discoverer 29) to 1962.01.13 (SRV 571). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried one 'C-Double Prime' panoramic camera, with a focal length of 61 cm and a ground resolution of 7.6 m. More...
  • Zenit-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. 81 launches, 1961.12.11 (Zenit-2 11F61 s/n 1) to 1970.05.12 (Cosmos 344). The Zenit-2 was a derivative of the manned Vostok, and the Soviet Union's first spy satellite. More...
  • KH-4 American military surveillance satellite. 31 launches, 1962.02.27 (Discoverer 38) to 1963.12.21 (KH-4 9062). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'Mural' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 7.6 m. More...
  • KH-6 American military surveillance satellite. 3 launches, 1963.03.18 (KH-6 8001) to 1963.07.31 (KH 4A-07). US reconnaissance satellite, lashed together to meet an emergency requirement for close-up imaging of a suspected Soviet ICBM site near Tallinn. More...
  • KH-7 American military surveillance satellite. 43 launches, 1963.07.12 (KH 7-01 (Gambit)) to 1967.06.04 (KH 7-38). US reconnaissance satellite. Still classified. Camera believed to have ground resolution of 0.46 m. Film returned in two capsules. More...
  • KH-4A American military surveillance satellite. 70 launches, 1963.08.25 (KH-4A 1001) to 1969.09.22 (SRV 743R). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'J-1' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 2.7 m. More...
  • Zenit-4 Russian military surveillance satellite. 76 launches, 1963.11.16 (Cosmos 22) to 1970.08.07 (Cosmos 355). Zenit-4 was the second Soviet photo-reconnaissance satellite, providing high-resolution imagery to complement the area coverage of the Zenit-2. More...
  • TGR Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1963. Two new directions were pursued in the Soviet Union for space optical reconnaissance systems in the mid-1960's: automated systems with television transmission of pictures, and manned systems. More...
  • KH-8 American military surveillance satellite. 61 launches, 1966.07.29 (OPS 3014) to 1984.04.17 (OPS 8424). Longest-lived and last US film-return reconnaissance satellite. Ground resolution 0.5 m. Film returned in two capsules. Typical life 50 days. More...
  • KH-4B 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. More...
  • Zenit-2M Russian military surveillance satellite. 101 launches, 1968.03.21 (Cosmos 208) to 1979.08.17 (Cosmos 1122). Planning began in mid-1967 for military systems to enter service through 1975. More...
  • Zenit-4M Russian military surveillance satellite. 61 launches, 1968.10.31 (Cosmos 251) to 1974.07.25 (Cosmos 667). Planning began in mid-1967 for military systems to enter service through 1975. More...
  • Yantar-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1968. Survey reconnaissance satellite project of KB Yuzhnoye worked on 1964-1967. More...
  • Yantar-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1968. High resolution reconnaissance satellite project worked on by KB Yuzhnoye 1964-1967. Was to have been derived from Soyuz-R manned spacecraft. More...
  • Zenit-4MK Russian military surveillance satellite. 80 launches, 1969.12.23 (Cosmos 317) to 1977.06.22 (Cosmos 920). Modernized high resolution version of the Zenit-4M satellite that went into service in 1972. Maneuverable; (two-tone telemetry). More...
  • Yantar-3KF Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1969. Survey reconnaissance satellite system studied in 1969. Not put into production. More...
  • Yantar-1KF Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1970. Survey reconnaissance satellite project worked on by Kozlov from 1967, succeeding Yantar-1. To be launched on Soyuz 11A511M launch vehicle. More...
  • KH-9 American military surveillance satellite. 26 launches, 1971.06.15 (KH-9 no. 01 (Big Bird)) to 1986.04.18 (SRV-4). Popularly known as 'Big Bird'. Titan 3C-class film-return reconnaissance satellite. More...
  • Zenit-4MT Russian military surveillance satellite. 23 launches, 1971.12.27 (Cosmos 470) to 1982.08.03 (Cosmos 1398). Special version of Zenit developed for topographical photography. This was developed by OKB-1 Filial 1 based on the Zenit-4M. More...
  • JSSW Chinese military surveillance satellite. 6 launches, 1973.09.18 (JSSW 1) to 1976.11.10 (JSSW 6). Mysterious early Chinese satellite, orbited by the cancelled FB-1 launch vehicle. More...
  • Yantar-2K Russian military surveillance satellite. 30 launches, 1974.05.23 (Yantar-2K failure.) to 1983.06.28 (Cosmos 1471). More...
  • FSW Chinese military surveillance satellite. 24 launches, 1974.11.05 (FSW-0) to 2006.09.09 (SJ-8). More...
  • Zenit-4MKT Russian military surveillance satellite. 27 launches, 1975.09.25 (Cosmos 771) to 1985.09.06 (Cosmos 1681). The Zenit-4MKT / Fram was an adaptation of the recoverable Vostok spacecraft for reconnaissance/remote sensing missions. More...
  • Zenit-6U Russian military surveillance satellite. 95 launches, 1976.11.24 (Cosmos 867) to 1984.06.19 (Cosmos 1573). A universal variant of the Zenit spacecraft, used in two altitude ranges, for both observation and high resolution missions. More...
  • KH-11 American military surveillance satellite. 9 launches, 1976.12.19 (KH-11 no. 1) to 1988.11.06 (USA 33). Also known as Kennan, Program 1010. Used systems developed for KH-10 Manned Orbiting Laboratory. More...
  • Yantar-6K Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1977. Extremely high resolution version of Yantar studied in 1969. A draft project was completed in May 1977, but the decision was made to keep the basic Yantar-2K satellite bus instead. More...
  • Yantar-6KS Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1977. Electro-optical imaging operational high resolution version of Yantar studied in 1969. More...
  • Yantar-4K2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1991. Improved military photo-reconnaissance satellite, using the basic Yantar-4K1 bus. Boost by the Zenit-2 launch vehicle would have allowed 22 film return capsules to be used over a 180 day mission. More...
  • Zenit-4MKM Russian military surveillance satellite. 39 launches, 1977.07.12 (Cosmos 927) to 1980.10.10 (Cosmos 1214). A further modification of the Zenit-4MK, accepted for military service in 1976, entered service in 1978. More...
  • Yantar-4K1 Russian film-return military surveillance satellite. Operational, first launch 1979.04.27. Flight trials of the Yantar-2K indicated the satellite was not capable of providing strategic warning of attack. The high resolution Yantar-4K provided that capability, while still capable of being launched by the existing Soyuz-U launch vehicle. Lifetime was 45 days. Two small capsules could return film an an interim basis before the main spacecraft with film returned to earth. More...
  • Yantar-2K-M Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1980. Planned upgrade of Yantar-2K. Not put into production. More...
  • Yantar-1KFT Russian military surveillance satellite. 21 launches, 1981.02.18 (Cosmos 1246) to 2005.09.02 (Cosmos 2415). Version of the Yantar photo satellite for topographic mapping on behalf of the Red Army. More...
  • Yantar-4KS1 Russian military electro-optical surveillance satellite. Operational, first launched 1982.12.28. More...
  • Yantar-4KS2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1983. The Yantar-4KS2 was a heavy military optical reconnaissance satellite, required to have the same capabilities as the KH-11/Crystal reconnaissance satellite of the United States. More...
  • Zenit-8 Russian military surveillance satellite. 101 launches, 1984.06.11 (Cosmos 1571) to 1994.06.07 (Cosmos 2281). More...
  • Energia Control Sat Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1984. This satellite would consist of a 33 metric ton equipment bus and a 17 metric ton rocket stage. It would be placed in a 600 km / 97 degree orbit for arms control and environment monitoring. More...
  • Orlets-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. 4 launches, 1986.10.22 (GVM) to 2000.09.25 (Cosmos 2372). More...
  • Orlets-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. 8 launches, 1989.07.18 (Cosmos 2031) to 2006.09.14 (Cosmos 2423). Multi-purpose satellite, designed for both close-look and survey missions, equipped with a panoramic camera, equipped with 8 film return capsules. More...
  • Improved Crystal American military surveillance satellite. Operational, first launch 1992.11.28. Improved CRYSTAL was an optical reconnaissance satellite built for the US National Reconnaissance Office. Prime contractor was thought to be Lockheed. More...
  • Ofeq 3 Israeli military surveillance satellite. 4 launches, 1995.04.05 (Ofeq-3) to 2006.04.25 (EROS-B). Ofeq 3 was Israel's second-generation imaging surveillance satellite. More...
  • Helios 1A-1B French military surveillance satellite. 2 launches, 1995.07.07 (Helios 1A) to 1999.12.03 (Helios 1B). Helios 1A an 1B were advanced French military surveillance satellites which were widely believed to have 1 meter resolution capability. More...
  • Arkon-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. 2 launches, 1997.06.06 (Cosmos 2344) to 2002.07.25 (Cosmos 2392). More...
  • MTI American military surveillance satellite. One launch, 2000.03.12. The Multispectral Thermal Imager (MTI) was a space-based research and development project sponsored by the U. More...
  • SA-200 The Spectrum Astro SA-200 satellite bus provided a flexible platform for satellites launched by the Pegasus booster. 4 launches, 2000.07.19 (Mightysat 2.1) to 2009.05.05. More...
  • TES Indian military surveillance satellite. One launch, 2001.10.22. TES was an imaging satellite equipped with cameras and instruments to test military reconnaissance satellite technology. More...
  • Ofeq 5 Israeli military surveillance satellite. Operational, first launch 2002.05.28. Ofeq-5 was said to be about 33% heavier than its predecessors. More...
  • IGS Japanese military surveillance satellite. Operational, first launched 2003.03.28. Japan's first military reconnaissance satellites, launched in optical and radar versions. More...
  • Helios 2 French military surveillance satellite. One launch, 2004.12.18. French military surveillance satellite series which began service in 2004. More...

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