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Declassified Photos Reveal CIA’s Deep-Sea Rescue of a Spy Satellite

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posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:59 PM
Only July 10, 1971, America's newest photo reconnaissance satellite, the KH-9 Hexagon, dropped a capsule loaded with film toward the Earth. The re-entry vehicle was supposed to open its parachute; an American aircraft would snatch it out of the sky in mid-descent. But the chute was never unfurled. The re-entry vehicle hit the Pacific Ocean with a force of approximately 2,600 G's. And then it sunk down into the deep, before settling at 16,000 feet.

Shortly thereafter, officials from the U.S. Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency decided to go after the Hexagon capsule, using America's most advanced deep-sea exploration vehicle, the Trieste II. There were just two problems with the mission, an internal CIA memo noted: "No object of this size had been actively searched for and located by sonar." And "the Trieste II had not gone below 10,000 feet."

While the incident has been discussed publicly before, many details of what happened next have been locked in government archives for 40 years. On Wednesday, the CIA declassified documents and photographs showing how it went after the Hexagon capsule. Here's what they showed.

(Above) The Hexagon capsule -- known as Recovery Vehicle 1201-3 -- sitting at the bottom of the Pacific.

Full write up and more photo's can be found here:


posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:09 PM
awesome find. i wonder if we've already seen the images on the film, or if those have yet to be released as well.

posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:20 PM
reply to post by snakebit

Yeah, it's probably full of photo's of Submarine bases/ports or even earthworks (nuclear bunkers)? who knows, but I would imagine it's very interesting indeed.

posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:26 PM

Originally posted by snakebit
awesome find. i wonder if we've already seen the images on the film, or if those have yet to be released as well.

From the OP's link....

The film broke into seven pieces. the shock of re-entry and the nine months in the brine proved too much for the film. There were no usable images on the roll. This scrap was the best of the images -- and the only tangible result from the CIA's nearly year-long rescue effort.

posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:30 PM
Satellite alone, I love this image, it really explains pressure quite well hey?

posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:50 PM
The entire KH-9 satellite was the size of a bus. It's amazing the extent they went to to spy, even 40 years ago.
Wiki KH-9 Hexagon

posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:10 PM
Jeepers Creepers! That is one big camera! So only a small capsule was left I guess (Pictured above)? Hmm

posted on Aug, 10 2012 @ 12:09 AM
Awesome thread.
Well done!

It's interesting to see the lengths that will be gone to in recovering items of high importance.
Speculations, i'm sure, will abound regarding other topics in using this as precedent.


edit on 10-8-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 08:31 PM
reply to post by Druscilla

Yep, absolutely. The depth was one that surprises me! Well, at that time, with that technology etc.

I would even say desperate! Shame no usable film hey?

posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 08:46 PM
This thread reminds me of the movie "Ice Station Zebra" about a spy satellite capsule just like this which comes down over the Arctic instead of its target zone so the Soviets and the U.S./Brits. go after it and it's just a brutal fight to get the darn piece of spy camera film. It's a really great movie, probably one of the better Cold War era thrillers made. I caught it one night on cable and didn't know much about it except that people said it was good, I wasn't disappointed.

I guess the movie had it right about the kind of resources the government was willing to employ just to get back one of these canisters.
edit on 8/12/2012 by LifeInDeath because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 09:16 PM
reply to post by LifeInDeath

Makes you wonder what other "lengths" they go to to cover other stuff up? Hmmmmm?

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 05:04 PM
a reply to: CaptainBeno

I like this story. Thank you for sharing it.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 02:29 PM

off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


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