Air Force Special Projects Production Facility History

While those interested in the study of national reconnaissance devote a majority of attention to satellite vehicles and associated sensors, they also can find compelling history about the ground processing of the raw data obtained by reconnaissance satellites. The NRO is releasing a three-volume history that affirms the importance of what occurs on the "ground" with respect to the success of national reconnaissance programs. In 1976, the staff of the Air Force Special Projects Production Facility produced this history to document the organization's 16 year history of reconnaissance film processing, evaluation, and duplication functions at Westover Air Force Base, MA, as well as photoreconnaissance camera system evaluation efforts. The Westover facility first supported film processing and duplication efforts for the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft program. As the United States developed photoreconnaissance satellites, the facility assumed similar responsibility first for Corona imagery from space, and later space-based imagery obtained from the Gambit and Hexagon programs. Along the way, the Westover facility developed expertise in evaluating new and evolving camera systems that were essential for gaining even better images and coverage of the Soviet Union and other Cold War adversaries. Readers will discover that space reconnaissance programs are complex systems, requiring near perfect execution of operations both in space and on the ground. The individuals who supported these activities are some of the less known, but nonetheless significant forces that helped win the Cold War.

National Reconnaissance Office - Above and Beyond