The designer of spy satellite finally reveals his life’s work


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The designer of the spy satellite KH-9 HEXAGON (more generally known by its nickname “Big Bird”) has finally been able to describe his life’s work.

What surprised me most from this story is the fact that HEXAGON used film to record its images, not some form of digital or electronic technology. The film was returned to Earth in four “re-entry buckets” that were snatched out of the air by a modified C-130 airplane. I had assumed that by the time HEXAGON was launched they had abandoned film. Not so.

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