Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance

The Gambit and Hexagon Programs

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 satellites became America's eyes in space.

Additional Information can be found under NRO's FOIA: Declassified Records.

You may also view NRO GAMBIT and HEXAGON satellites at the National Museum of the United States Air Force Virtual Tour. Select the center dot (Cold War – 078) in the Cold War section of the map. GAMBIT 1 and GAMBIT 3 are to the left, HEXAGON to the right. Select each image for more information, or click on the links below:

Photos of GAMBIT and HEXAGON courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force:

NRO Satellite Exhibit Opening  






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