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HEXAGON

HEXAGON (KH-9) also known as or partially contained in FULCRUM, S-2, and HELIX, emerged from competing concepts to provide a surveillance system that flew 20 missions (1201-1220) from June 1971 through April 1986. On 17 September 2011, the NRO declassified the HEXAGON and GAMBIT satellite reconnaissance programs. The first release of documents accompanied the formal announcement of the declassification.

The second release provides the public with a new collection of documents focused on the HEXAGON program.  Documents 1-6 have been previously released within the NRO Staff Records collection or the WS117L, SAMOS and SENTRY records.  They have been re-reviewed and new information is being made available to the public.  The remaining, newly released, documents shed light on the early NRO and its management challenges.  A further subset of these documents shine a spotlight on the budget battles which brought the HEXAGON program to the brink of cancellation before its first launch (See documents 78-89).

Index, Declassified Documents

# Document Title Date No. of Pages
1 Intelligence Requirements for Satellite Reconnaissance Systems 7/5/1960 19
The United States Intelligence Board (USIB)'s first requirements for satellite reconnaissance systems.
2 Report of a Special Panel on Satellite Reconnaissance 8/25/1960 8
  Dr. Killian and Dr. Land's original report on satellite reconnaissance.    
3 Management of National Reconnaissance Program 8/7/1961 4
  Original Memorandum of Agreement.    
4 Basis of Understanding Between CIA-DOD Relative to the NRP 9/5/1961 1
  A redraft of the agreement. While Secretary McNamara signed the previous version, Allan Dulles refused to sign. Another major change was the joint authority granted to Dr. Charyk and Mr. Bissell.    
5 Functions and Responsibilities of the NRO 12/5/1961 10
  Definitions and policies as written in 1961.    
6 Organization and Functions of NRO 7/23/1962 11
A 1962 memorandum describing the individual NRO elements, and outlining the overall concept of operations.
7 Items Within NRP Which are CIA Responsibility 12/14/1962 3
  Memorandum from Dr. Charyk to D/BOB regarding inconsistencies he sees with the way CIA will fund projects under the NRO agreement.    
8 USAF Memo Regarding 1962 NRO Charter 1/24/1963 3
  USAF Memorandum voicing issues with how the USAF was cut out of management authority for the NRP.    
9 Summary Review of the National Reconnaissance Office 2/25/1963 37
  DNRO Charyk's outgoing summary review of the National Reconnaissance Office.    
10 Agreement on Management of National Reconnaissance Program 3/13/1963 6
  The March 1963 agreement on the management of the NRP.    
11 Comparative Evaluation - Improved search type satellite reconnaissance system 4/15/1963 60
  A report submitted by Major General Robert Greer, Director of Program A, to DNRO regarding various improvements to the search reconnaissance system.    
12 MFR-Meeting with Dr. Scoville 5/29/1963 1
  A Memorandum for the Record by Dr. Fubini regarding a covert satellite.    
13 5412 Group and Development of Covert Satellite 6/1/1963 1
  A memorandum from Roswell Gilpatric to DDNRO Scoville regarding rumored agreement by the 5412 Group to a CIA proposal for development of a covert satellite.    
14 MFR- Covert Satellites 5/31/1963 1
  A Memorandum for the Record by Dr. Fubini regarding a covert satellite. Follows up on the MFR dated 29 May 1963.    
15 Covert Satellite 6/14/1963 1
  DDNRO Scoville responding to a 1 June 1963 memorandum regarding CIA's proposal for development of a covert satellite.    
16 Covert Satellite Capability 6/18/1963 1
  Note from Dr. Fubini to Roswell Gilpatric regarding the outlook on developing a covert satellite capability after the release of the Purcell report.    
17 Further Action Under NSC Action 2454 6/24/1963 6
  Meeting of the Special Space Committee at the Department of State discussing the need for mapping data and possible use of photographs taken by NRP assets to fill this need.    
18 MFR- Plans for Ultra High Resolution Satellite Reconnaissance 8/15/1963 2
  A Memorandum for the Record regarding the meeting of the Directors of Programs A and B to discuss the plans for developing an ultra high resolution satellite reconnaissance system.    
19 Clarification on Ultra High Resolution Satellite Reconnaissance System 8/23/1963 1
  Clarification on Ultra High Resolution Satellite Reconnaissance System    
20 MFR- Meeting with Mr. McCone on September 11, 1963 9/11/1963 3
  DNRO Brockway McMillan's Memorandum for the Record regarding a meeting with Mr. McCone on various topics including CIA studying improvements to CORONA.    
21 Analysis of CORONA Photography by CIA 11/5/1963 7
  Memorandum from Albert Wheelon to DNRO McMillan regarding CIA's analysis of the resolution distribution of CORONA photography and efforts to improve it via the creation of a working group.    
22 Consolidation of CORONA Management and discussion of CORONA improvements 12/11/1963 2
  Memorandum for the Record by DNRO McMillan regarding a meeting with DCI McCone on 10 December 1963.    
23 Possible NRO-CIA Issues 12/12/1963 4
  A memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from DNRO Brockway McMillan regarding NRO/CIA issues that may come up in discussions. DNRO McMillan indicates a course of action regarding an improved general surveillance system.    
24 Management of CORONA Program 12/13/1963 4
  A memorandum from DCI McCone to DNRO McMillan regarding the management of the CORONA program and keeping the status quo as regards contractors' ability to discuss issues with CIA personnel as well as USAF.    
25 Importance of Satellite Reconnaissance Coverage for Timely Production of NIEs 5/21/1964 3
  Memorandum for the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) regarding the importance of broad area coverage for production of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) of the Soviet Union. The memorandum presses the NRO to produce results in the field of broad area coverage.    
26 MFR- Meeting with DCI McCone 5/28/1964 2
  DNRO Brockway McMillan's Memorandum for the Record regarding a meeting with Mr. McCone on various topics including NRO/CIA relationship and CORONA management.    
27 Request for a Listing of CIA Contracts 6/12/1964 1
  Letter from DNRO McMillan to DCI McCone requesting a list of all the CIA contracts active for satellites.    
28 Questions on CIA Studies on Satellite Reconnaissance 6/12/1964 3
  DNRO McMillan's memorandum to the Deputy Secretary of Defense informing him of his request for a listing of CIA's contracts related to satellites. The DNRO says he has indications that CIA is contracting for satellite system and sub-system studies without informing the NRO.    
29 MFR-Conduct of Further studies of FULCRUM 6/25/1964 2
  DNRO Brockway McMillan's Memorandum for the Record regarding the conduct of further studies on FULCRUM. The Memo discusses the NRO's responsibilities in the early development efforts.    
30 Response to MFR dated 25 June 1964 6/29/1964 1
DDCI Marshall S. Carter's response to DNRO McMillan regarding the Memorandum for the Record dated 25 June 1964 circulated after a meeting. Lieutenant General Carter indicates that the memorandum does not conform to his understanding of the events.
31 Extending Contracts and CORONA 6/30/1964 2
  DDCI Marshall S. Carter's response to DNRO McMillan regarding another memorandum. Carter requests that DNRO does not make changes to contracts or operating procedures until responses from the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) are received.    
32 Broad Coverage System 6/30/1964 2
  Memorandum from Dr. Fubini to the Undersecretary of the Air Force regarding development and project FULCRUM. Dr. Fubini requests the reconsideration of the development in light of a number of technical points.    
33 Extending Contracts and CORONA 7/1/1964 1
  DNRO McMillan's response to General Carter's memorandum of 30 June 1964.    
34 CIA Management of Satellite Projects 7/7/1964 5
  DNRO Brockway McMillan's Memorandum for the Record regarding FULCRUM and CIA's efforts to take on the complete management of the project development. The DNRO illustrates the issues with the management structure and makes certain recommendations.    
35 CIA proposals and plans 7/7/1964 1
  A letter from DNRO McMillan summarizing the CIA's plan for the new FULCRUM project.    
36 MFR-Fulcrum discussions in a 26 June 1964 meeting 7/8/1964 4
  DNRO Brockway McMillan's Memorandum for the Record regarding a meeting with Mr. McCone, General Carter, Dr. Fubini, and Dr. Wheelon. The memo reports on discussions about: technical considerations for FULCRUM, the status of GAMBIT-3, and preliminary findings of Dr. Land's review of FULCRUM.    
37 Preliminary feasibility studies for design of FULCRUM 7/8/1964 1
  Letter to DCI John McCone from Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance regarding feasibility testing for FULCRUM and proposal to have the DNRO complete comparative studies concurrent to the CIA efforts.    
38 Funding for Project FULCRUM 12/1/1964 2
  Memorandum for the DNRO requesting NRO funding for Project FULCRUM.    
39 Designation of CIA personnel to assist at NRO 12/14/1964 1
  Memorandum for the DNRO designating CIA personnel to a technical task force and steering group.    
40 Response to Designation of CIA personnel to assist at NRO 12/21/1964 1
  DNRO McMillan's response to DDCIA's memorandum of 14 December 1964.    
41 Funding for Project FULCRUM 12/22/1964 1
  Memorandum for the DNRO regarding finalizing the funding arrangements for Project FULCRUM.    
42 Response on Funding for Project FULCRUM 1/4/1965 1
  NRO's response to the 22 December 1964 memo requesting to finalize funding arrangements for Project FULCRUM.    
43 Response on Funding for Project FULCRUM 1/29/1965 5
  Response to the 4 January 1965 memo showing more detail regarding items to be funded by NRO.    
44 Report From the February 24th Land Panel 2/24/1965 4
  Report of the Land panel's deliberations and conclusions. The committee recommended that no further studies should be pursued for FULCRUM.    
45 ITEK Estimates of Costs and Schedules for a General Search Development 3/18/1965 4
  A memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense with a chronology of events between SAFSP and ITEK as they relate to efforts for a general search system.    
46 Concern About a New Satellite System for General Search 5/3/1965 4
  DNRO McMillan writes to recently appointed DCI Vice Admiral William F. Raborn to provide him with the status and background for the general search satellite.    
47 Panel Views on Work Conducted on High Resolution Search Systems 7/30/1965 2
  A letter from Donald Hornig to the Deputy Secretary of Defense with an update on the latest recommendations from the Land panel. The panel reviewed the work on high resolution search systems done by Perkin Elmer, Eastman Kodak, and Itek.    
48 Comments on NRO and NRP 9/30/1965 14
  DNRO McMillan's outgoing summary review of the National Reconnaissance Office sent to the Secretary of Defense.    
49 NRP Executive Committee Minutes 10/6/1965 5
  The NRP ExCom is briefed on the three camera systems, and DNRO Flax indicates his plan to establish a technical task group to prepare systems requirements and to start formulating plans for contractor selection. The minutes also include discussion of other programs.    
50 Comments on Task Group Report (Buzard) 11/2/1965 4
  Colonel Frank S. Buzard provides a response to Brigadier General Stewart regarding the Task Group Report (Alternative Management Arrangements for New Photographic Satellite Search and Surveillance System).    
51 Comments on Task Group Report (Koch) 11/2/1965 2
Capt. Robert Koch provides a response to Colonel Worthman regarding the Task Group Report (Alternative Management Arrangements for New Photographic Satellite Search and Surveillance System).
52 Comments on Task Group Report (Carter) 11/2/1965 2
  Colonel David L. Carter provides a response to Brigadier General Stewart regarding the Task Group Report.    
53 Comments on Task Group Report (Howard) 11/2/1965 3
  Colonel Henry C. Howard provides a response to Brigadier General Stewart regarding the Task Group Report.    
54 NRP Executive Committee Minutes 11/16/1965 6
  The NRP ExCom is made aware of possible Bureau of Budget (BOB) issues with the NRP budget for 1967/8. Also includes discussion of various other programs.    
55 Terms of Reference Task Group 12/7/1965 2
DNRO Flax's action memo with the Terms of Reference for the task group on status of the effort on photographic sensor subsystem for a new search and surveillance system.
56 RFP for the Photographic Subsystem for a New Search/Surveillance System 1/28/1966 2
  Memorandum for DNRO Flax indicating drafts for the RFP have been completed, and his approval is requested to move forward with forming task groups.    
57 Relationship of the Eastman Kodak Co. to the NRP 3/1/1966 4
  A summary for the Director of Reconnaissance Programs (CIA) of the relationship history between the NRP and Eastman Kodak.    
58 Cable- New General Search and Surveillance System 4/5/1966 3
  A cable from General Martin to DNRO Flax with more comments regarding the proposed package to the ExCom.    
59 Helix Program Proposals 4/7/1966 3
  Letter from the Director of Reconnaissance (CIA) to DNRO regarding issues with the HELIX program proposals.    
60 System Operational Requirements for New Search Surveillance System 4/29/1966 79
  DNRO Flax shares the approved system operation requirements for the new search and surveillance system with SAFSP and CIA.    
61 Implementation of HEXAGON Development Program 4/30/1966 3
  DNRO Flax requests that General Martin of SAFSP begin to execute the actions to start the development of HEXAGON    
62 Instructions for Satellite Basic Assembly Source Selection 5/25/1966 2
  DNRO Flax's instructions for the Source Selection Advisory Council regarding their duties as they relate to the selection of the satellite basic assembly contractor.    
63 Appointment for Source Selection Advisory Council 5/25/1966 1
  Appointment notification for Source Selection Advisory Council for the satellite basic assembly.    
64 Instructions for Re-entry Vehicle Source Selection 7/6/1966 2
  DNRO Flax's instructions for the Source Selection Advisory Council regarding their duties as they relate to the selection of the re-entry vehicle contractor.    
65 Appointment for Source Selection Advisory Council 7/6/1966 2
  Appointment notification for Source Selection Advisory Council for re-entry vehicle.    
66 Mapping, Charting and Geodesy Requirements for Image Forming Satellites 7/11/1966 9
  A memorandum from the Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance (COMOR) for consideration by the United States Intelligence Board (USIB). Indications of the value of the new search and surveillance system are voiced.    
67 Instructions for Stellar and Terrain Indexing Subsystem Source Selection 8/3/1966 2
  DNRO Flax's instructions for the Source Selection Advisory Council regarding their duties as they relate to the selection of the stellar and terrain indexing subsystem contractor.    
68 Appointment for Source Selection Advisory Council 8/3/1966 2
  Appointment notification for Source Selection Advisory Council for stellar and terrain indexing subsystem.    
69 TRW Tasks for HEXAGON 10/31/1966 3
  Memorandum from DNRO Flax to Huntington Sheldon, Director of Reconnaissance (CIA) discussing the TRW tasks and the amount of people that would be involved.    
70 TRW Tasks for HEXAGON 11/3/1966 1
  CIA meeting request to discuss TRW tasks for HEXAGON.    
71 Comments on the Land Panel 8/16/1967 1
  A letter from Donald Hornig, Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, to DNRO Flax commenting on the latest recommendation from the Land Panel.    
72 Request for Data on the NRP photographic Systems for use at the NIRB 6/17/1968 2
  Request from Deputy Director of the CIA Vice Admiral Rufus Taylor for information to be used at a future National Intelligence Resources Board (NIRB) meeting.    
73 Assessment of the Intelligence Gain provided by KH-9 over KH-4 and KH-8 7/1/1968 25
  An assessment of the intelligence gain provided by KH-9 over KH-4 and KH-8 for the Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation (COMIREX).    
74 Data on the NRP photographic Systems for use at the NIRB 7/16/1968 11
  DNRO Flax writes to Deputy Director of the CIA Vice Admiral Rufus Taylor regarding the effects on the products of CORONA and GAMBIT-3 from recent system improvements. The letter also addresses the cost trade-offs if a decision to cancel HEXAGON is made.    
75 NIRB Recommendation to DCI on Project HEXAGON 7/22/1968 3
  National Intelligence Resources Board (NIRB) recommendation to the DCI to continue HEXAGON development.    
76 Review of HEXAGON Requirements by the COMIREX 7/26/1968 6
  Memorandum from DNRO Flax to the Deputy Secretary of Defense discussing the newly issued paper by the Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation (COMIREX). The new paper dealt with the revalidation of the requirements for the HEXAGON system.    
77 Announcement of KH-9 to NPIC 7/30/1968 2
  Memorandum from the Director of the NRO staff to the Directors of NPIC and DIA announcing the development of the KH-9 system.    
78 NRP Executive Committee Minutes 8/20/1968 4
  NRP ExCom minutes centering on the budget austerity measures and the impact on HEXAGON.    
79 Proposed DOD position on HEXAGON 11/11/1968 20
  The paper addresses the question: Should the HEXAGON development be continued, or should the program be terminated and plans modified to depend indefinitely on the CORONA system?    
80 Future NRP Satellite Imagery Systems 11/13/1968 7
  A memorandum for DNRO Flax providing an evaluation of the Bureau of Budget's (BOB) draft regarding the choice of satellite imagery system mixes in operation for FY71-FY74.    
81 NRP Executive Committee Minutes 11/13/1968 8
  NRP ExCom minutes centering on the budget austerity measures and the impact on ongoing programs.    
82 The Need for the HEXAGON Photographic Satellite 2/12/1969 8
  A paper with no addressee. The paper discusses the value of HEXAGON by investigating the: Timeliness in crisis management, swath width, budget savings, and the search area coverage capabilities.    
83 Cover letter for the BOB's preliminary review 2/13/1969 1
  A letter from the Director of the Bureau of Budget to the Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard. The cover letter points out the three programs which the BOB considers to have high potential savings.    
84 Budget Issues on MOL, HEXAGON and Drones 2/19/1969 26
  Memorandum for the Deputy Secretary of Defense summarizing the BOB paper and the positions of the appropriate elements of the DOD.    
85 On the BOB recommendation to cancel HEXAGON 3/11/1969 5
  A letter from DCI Helms to Robert Mayo, Director of the Bureau of Budgets emphasizing his support for the continuation of the HEXAGON program. In this letter DCI Helms lays out: a) The studies that have been undertaken to review the program and estimate its intelligence value. B) An analysis of the costs in terminating the program. C) Examples of the intelligence value of the HEXAGON program.    
86 On the BOB recommendation to cancel HEXAGON 3/22/1969 6
  Director of the BOB's response to DCI Helms' 11 March 1969 letter. Here Mr. Mayo refutes the points made by the DCI.    
87 On the BOB recommendation to cancel HEXAGON 3/25/1969 4
  DNRO McLucas writes to DCI Helms regarding the BOB letter dated 22 March 1969.    
88 Evaluation of the BoB Statements Regarding Value of HEXAGON 3/31/1969 33
  An item by item evaluation of the 22 March 1969 BOB review of the HEXAGON system.    
89 MOL and HEXAGON 4/11/1969 5
  A memorandum from DNRO McLucas to the Secretary of Defense laying out the issues the BOB has brought up and the stance at CIA and DOD. This memo follows up on a meeting held on 9 April 1969 between Mr. Mayo (Director of the BOB), Mr. Kissinger, and the President. The letter reports that the President tentatively agreed to the cancellation of the HEXAGON program.    
90 Recommendation to end CORONA 1/28/1970 1
  Dr. Naka's recommendation to the DNRO that no further CORONA vehicles be purchased. This is the culmination of his investigations at the HEXAGON review committee.    
91 Adequacy of the CORONA/HEXAGON Overlap 2/2/1970 1
  Dr. McLucas's memo to the NRP Executive Committee regarding Dr. Naka's recommendation to end CORONA. He urges the ExCom to accept that recommendation.    
92 HEXAGON Concept of Operations 9/1/1970 29
  This document describes organizational responsibilities and interfaces for each phase of HEXAGON operations.    
93 Potential HEXAGON Sensor Management Change 10/7/1971 2
  Letter from the NRO Comptroller to Dr. Naka illustrating his ideas on a systematic phaseover of contract responsibilities.    
94 Transfer HEXAGON Subsystem from OSP to SAFSP 10/22/1971 2
  A cable draft providing more guidance for the transfer of the HEXAGON sensor subsystem responsibilities from CIA/OSP to SAFSP.    
95 Key Elements of the Transition plan for the HEXAGON Subsystem 10/22/1971 2
  Colonel Bradburn summarizes some of the key aspects of the transfer of the HEXAGON sensor subsystem responsibilities from CIA/OSP to SAFSP for Dr. McLucas.    
96 Outstanding Contribution of HEXAGON 4/16/1973 1
  DNRO McLucas' memorandum to the Director of CIA Reconnaissance Programs giving praise to the CIA for their contribution to HEXAGON.    
97 SAFSP Source Selection Proceedings 6/25/1974 36
  A summary of SAFSP source selection proceedings for use in planning future procurements.    
98 1212-1 General Data Summary 8/30/1976 72
  Detailed summary of what happened with the film for Mission 1212-1.    
99 HEXAGON Mission 1220 Launch Failure Notification 4/21/1986 1
  DNRO's notification to top U.S. officials regarding the launch failure of Mission 1220.    
100 Hexagon Preliminary Post Flight Report 7/7/1986 46
  The document presents preliminary evaluation results of vehicle and ground systems performances during HEXAGON Mission 1220's program flight.    
101 Chronology of NRO-CIA Relationships Volume 1 No Date 201
  This undated chronology of the NRO-CIA relationship covers the period from May 1960-April 1965.    
102 Chronology of NRO-CIA Relationships Volume 2 No Date 63
  This undated chronology of the NRO-CIA relationship covers the period from April 1965- Dec 1966.    
103 Bridgehead No Date 78
  A report on the Bridgehead facility describing the process once the film is received for GAMBIT and HEXAGON missions. Includes the workflow, capabilities, and major items of equipment. [This document is in Color]    

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