Declassified US Spy Satellites One Day on Display

HEXAGON (KH-9) Viewing Opportunity, One Day Only - National Air and Space Museum Event

Please note, this event has ended.

HEXAGON (KH-9) Viewing Opportunity, One Day Only
Newly Declassified Satellite Saturday, September 17
10:00 am to 5:30 pm
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Admission: Free, Parking $15

Spy satellite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A spy satellite (officially referred to as a reconnaissance satellite) is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications.
These are essentially space telescopes that are pointed toward the Earth instead of toward the stars. The first generation type (i.e. Corona [1] [2] and Zenit) took photographs, then ejected canisters of photographic film, which would descend to earth.
Corona capsules were retrieved in mid-air as they floated down on parachutes. Later spacecraft had digital imaging systems and downloaded the images via encrypted radio links.


The declassification of GAMBIT and HEXAGON was publicly announced on September 17, 2011. Two GAMBIT systems were developed for surveillance of specific targets. GAMBIT 1 initially launched in 1963 and was equipped with the KH-7 camera systems. GAMBIT 3 followed in 1966 and was equipped with the KH-8 camera system. The HEXAGON system was launched in 1971 and was developed for wide-area searches of denied territory. Together these satellitites became America's eyes in space.
Additional Information can be found under NRO's History and Studies page: Gambit/Hexagon Programs.

Declassified US Spy Satellites Reveal Rare Look at Secret Cold War Space Program | American Spy Satellites, Military Space Program | US National Reconnaissance Office Satellites &Hexagon and Gambit Satellites | Space.com

The massive KH-9 Hexagon spy satellite on display at the Smithsonian National Air Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, 

This National Reconnaissance Office released graphic depicts the huge HEXAGON spy satellite, a Cold War era surveillance craft that flew reconnaissance missions from 1971 to 1986. The bus-size satellites weighed 30,000 pounds and were 60 feet long.