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Author Topic: Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew  (Read 1374 times)

Offline Flyaway

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Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew
« on: February 03, 2017, 09:41:39 am »
Quote
In the late 1970s, the secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which developed and operated the United States’ fleet of intelligence satellites, began studying a top secret payload that would fly inside the Space Shuttle’s payload bay. The payload, named ZEUS, would have featured a pair of powerful reconnaissance cameras capable of observing large portions of the Soviet Union during a shuttle flight. One variant of ZEUS would have been a recoverable “free-flyer” satellite, deployed by the shuttle and retrieved by a later shuttle mission. ZEUS was so secret that not even its existence was acknowledged—blacker than black, as the spooks would say. But now, recently declassified documents have shed light on this top secret, almost completely unknown shuttle payload.

Rest on the link.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3160/1

Offline Michel Van

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Re: Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 12:32:32 pm »
It Make some sense to use the Space Shuttle for that, because it could give NRO more flexibility and Reuse of there Optical Systems
So the Idea in begin of 1970s, after dead of MOL.
but KH-11 KENNEN was far better Solution, do it digital equipment making ZEUS obsolete in 1976
Next to that was the Space Shuttle not so flexibility in launching as original planed.

But the Idea of a "Black Spacelab" mission for NRO has something compelling...
I love Strange Technology

Offline blackstar

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Re: Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2017, 05:48:08 am »
The concept of using the shuttle to do the reconnaissance started around 1975. There was a study called Wide Area Surveillance Program (WASP) that looked into it. That was completed around 1976 or so. ZEUS then came along around 1978-1979. The plan was for approximately four ZEUS missions per year to accomplish the search mission then being performed by the HEXAGON satellites.

The KH-11 KENNEN entered service in late 1976 and a second satellite was launched in 1978. The early KH-11s were bandwidth-limited in the amount of imagery they could return. But there were proposed upgrades to increase the bandwidth. This proved to be a better and more cost effective solution than multiple ZEUS shuttle flights every year.

Offline blackstar

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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 08:21:10 am »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3172/1

I suspect long before even the Challenger accident the penny must have dropped for the NRO that it was going to be quicker and cheaper to just keep extending the life of the KH-11.