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Air Staff Target 9003 Photo-Reconaissance Satellite (Early 1960s)

A Tentative Fleet Plan

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Source: Norman Friedman's Seapower and Space p365-366.

AST.9003 envisaged satellites orbiting at 200 miles in 97 degree (sun-synchronous) orbits carrying two cameras with television readout, and an ELINT Antenna.

Resolution of the cameras would be 25 and 5 yards with swath widths of 45 and 7 miles respectively. It was expected that this system would provide 80% coverage of any given area within 2-3 months. The 25 yard camera would operate continuously, transmitting on command to 2-6 ground stations, with the narrow-field camera functioning on command.

ELINT would be used to intercept airborne communications, VHF radio relays (is Microwave links) and would search for ABM radars and UHF transmissions. The data would be transmitted via the imagery link, and could be correlated with images if the ELINT package used a directional antenna. If the TV link was eliminated in favour of film recovery, 20% of satellite weight could be saved, but the satellite would only last 10 days before it ran out of film.

Another system requirement was for accurate measurements of the satellite's orbits, either by radar, or by Doppler.

Friedman cites a Royal Navy analysis (ADM 1/28880, September 1963) that ships could barely be identified with the 25-yard resolution, with the 5-yard strip being too narrow for surveillance. To obtain sufficient coverage, 30 satellites in precise polar orbits would be required, with more being needed if precise orbits could not be maintained.
 
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blackstar

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A few things:

This thread needs a more descriptive subject, such as "Early 1960s British Reconnaissance Satellite Proposal"

By 1963 or so, the British were given access to US CORONA film-return satellite images. The images were obtained at least 4-7 days after they were taken, but the Americans were leading in this technology.

By 1963 the Americans were not looking at anything like this British proposal. I suspect that the requirements the British had were not really viable. It probably would not work. The readout time and limitations of ground stations would have been significant. When the USAF was looking at Samos readout, I think at one point they determined they needed 10 ground stations around the world. That was too expensive for the US, and the UK never could have afforded it.
 

blackstar

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ELINT would be used to intercept airborne communications, VHF radio relays (is Microwave links) and would search for ABM radars and UHF transmissions. The data would be transmitted via the imagery link, and could be correlated with images if the ELINT package used a directional antenna.
If you look at the history of what the US did, there were small SIGINT payloads (ELINT and COMINT) carried on US photo-reconnaissance satellites for a few years. But by the mid-1960s this mission was moved to dedicated satellites and off of the recon satellites. There were a bunch of reasons for that, but essentially it came down to the two missions being incompatible. I think that the Brits would have found that trying to transmit both video and SIGINT from the same satellite probably would have been too much for their communications system on the satellite, and possibly also on the ground.
 

CJGibson

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From what I've seen this, and the associated OR.9001 and OR.9002, foundered due to a lack of an indigenous launcher more than anything. The OR.9003 device was to 'also carry sufficient radio listening equipment to give significant electronic intelligence information.' - AIR 20/11345

Chris
 
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