Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 16, 2016
Document Release Date: 
August 5, 2004
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
April 11, 1958
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP75B00514R000200050012-7.pdf529.56 KB
Approved For Release 2004/08/31: CIA-RDP75B00514R00020001ibbilli00070387DlIE111111111111 TOP SECRET ROTE CT CORONA COR-001? Copy No. 6 11 April 1958 I. Purpose: Project CORONA contemplates the covert development and subsequent operational use of a short lived reconnaissance satellite from which, at the completion of its mission, a recoverable capsule contain- ing exposed film is separated for return and pick up in a preselected ocean area. Prior to the initiation of this project, the development of such a system had been started by the Air Force as a part of Weapons System 117L but was officially cancelled early in March. Thus, CORONA involves the picking up and carrying through covertly of a program already undertaken together with technical modifications therein as Indicated below. Z. Configuration: Taking advantage of arrangements already made by the Air Force, the basic vehicle for project CORONA will be a two-stage rocket consisting of the same second stage that is being built by Lockheed for WS-117L with a Thor booster as the first stage (in place of the Atlas booster which will be the first stage of the 117L vehicle). The payload will be a pod containing a twenty-four inch focal length camera and a recoverable capsule into which the exposed film feeds as the camera operates. Either the whole second stage of the vehicle, or possibly only the pod containing the payload, will be stabilised after it is in orbit and will serve as a plat- form from which the CIIIIIIPTS continuously looks downward to the earth and takes pictures by scanning at right angles to the path. This configura- tion is expected to yield a r?slelution of about twenty feet on the ground which should be sufficient to permit structures to be distinguished from one uother and to allow the detection and identification of such major reconnaissance targets as missile sites under construction, previously unobserved communities, or other major installations in the areas hitherto inaccessible to reconnaissance such as the Soviet far north. 3. Program: It is proposed, that twelve to fifteen vehicles in the above configuration be produced. Although it has not yet been possible to establish a firm schedule of delivery dates, it appears likely that the first firing can be in June of 1959. It is tentatively planned to schedule firings at the rate of one a month for four to six months beginning in June 1959 and to achieve a rate of two a month as soon as possible. On this basis, 3E1: NRO, UftPartOCKIOrrattil 204198141.: CIA-RDP75B00514R000200050012-7 Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 fifteen fir only about without mal uld be completed before June 1960. It is estimated that ercent of these will be successfully orbited, operate ctiort and be recovered. 4. Modificatio of Earlier Plans: The configuration briefly described above differs from that contemplated in the program originally launched by the Air Force. The earlier plan called for spin stabilizatio. of the pod containing the payload, a six inch focal length camera with/image motion compeneation, and a very short exposure time. Such a configuration could be available at least six months sooner and would involve somewhat less technological risk (because of its reliance on a proven method of stabilisation) than the one presently proposed. On the other hand, the configuration originally proposed would have required the use of fast film which yields grainy photography and would have yielded a resolution of only sixty feet on the ground. To carry through the development of the original configura- tion and at the same time to undertake the development of the modified configuration in parallel would have obvious advantages but would add four or five million dollars to the total cost of the program and would complicate the problem of maintaining cover. On balance, it is believed, (a) that the more sophisticated modified configurationcOould be developed with top priority and (b) that the six month earlier availability date of the original configuration does not justify its cost in terms of funds and effort. 5. Administration: CORONA is being carried out under the authority of the Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency with the support and participation of the U.S. Air Force. ARPA has authorised and will exercise general technical supervision over the development of the vehicle. Detailed supervision of vehicle development is being performed by the Ballistic Missile Division USAF acting as agent for ARIA. The Ballistic Missile Division has also assumed the responsi- bility for the provision of necessary ground facilities. CIA participates in supervision of the technical development, especially as applied to the actual reconnaissance equipment, is undertaking all procurement that must be handled covertly, and has general responsibility for cover and for the maintenance of security. In the operational phase actual missile launchings will be carried out at Camp Cook by technical staffs of the companies that are building this reconnaissance system. Tracking will be carried out from stations being established by the Ballistic Missile Division. Recovery will be accomplished by a Navy task force. The line a command for these field activities of launching, tracking and recovery will be through the Ballistic Missile Division. Subject to approval by the appropriate political 111 Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 111!?7",r1FT authorities, the general schedule of launchings will be determined by the availability of vehicles and launching facilities. Specific timing within this schedule will be determined so far as poseible on the basis of weather prevailing over target areas. For both cover and control purposes, weather will be reported through an already existing CIA channel and specific firing dates will be selected by the Central Intelligence Agency. 6, Cavsr and Security: As noted above the initial step taken to place this undertaking on a truly covert basis was the cancellation of the program already started by the Air Force as a part of its WS-117L development. The cover and security arrangements already made or contemplated are as follow.: a. Subsequent to the ostensible cancellation, extra:D*1y Limited numbers of individuals in the participating companies were cleared for and advised of procedures to be employed in CORONA. Compart- mentation of this project from other activities has been established in a satisfactory manner in all of the companies and an internal cover story has been worked out for use in each company to explain to unwitting company personnel the nature of the compartmented and highly classified work which will be going forward. Generally speaking the personnel actually employed in the design and production of the classified reconnaissance equipment must be witting of its true purpose. b. Since actual missile firings attract public attention, a cover explanation will be required during the operational phase to explain plausibly the dozen or more launchings that will take place and the recovery operations which will be carried out by the Navy and will Involve considerable numbers of Naval personnel. A cover stymy for certain parts of the developmental work and for some or all of the firings will explain these observable events as parts of a program to conduct experimental space flights with laboratory animals. Partly in support of this cover, but also for their own inherent scientific value, a recovery capsule suitable for carrying an animal and appropriately instrumented will actually be developed and a number of biomedical launchings and recoveries will be attempted. It is planned that when reconnaissance equipment Is to be launched, the pod containing it will be substituted for the biomedical pod just before Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 c'"IFT ? firing and it is believed knowledge of this substitution can be Limited to a few witting individuals in the launching crews. A* a supplementary cover story it may be possible to explain some of the firings as events in a program of nose cone re-entry tests. c. Greet technical ingenuity and carefully worked out procedures will be required to maintain the plausibility of either or both of these cover stories. Although planning is still at an early stage, it is believed that this can be accomplished. It would be highly desirable, however, not only to provide an innecent explanation of the quite unconcealable firing and recovery activities but also to conceal the fact that the vehicle ever enters into orbit, since the suspicion will inevitably arise that any orbiting vehicle, however described, is in fact being used for reconnaissance. With this objective in view, the possibility of describing the vehicle as a miesile rather than as a short lived satellite is being studied. If this appears feasible the cover stories will be appropriately mgidified. d. The strictest security control is being maintained ever all aspects of COitONA. Al! communications which reflect the exietence of this project are handled within Top Secret procedures. A list of all individuals who ars witting of the project is maintained. Individuals are cleared for and made knowledgeable of the project only on a strict need-to-know basis. Additional clearances may be granted only with prior approval from the CIA project office and this authority will not be delegated to any other organisation concerned with the project. 7. Procurement: Of the total procurement required for Pi:MONA, as large a proportion as possible will be handled relatively overtly as a part of the WS-II7L and other programs. In accordance with this general plan, both the Thor booster, which is produced by Douglas for a number of military applications and the Lockheed second stage vehicle which las noted above) is being developed for WS-I17L will simply be allocated from the production schedules already in effect for these items and will be procured by the Air Force. Only the pods containing reC0121tatial sauce equipment and the recoverable film cassettes will be procured covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency, Approved For Release 200208103f:raba751300514R000200050012-7 Approved For Release 2004/0041 liCIA-RDP75B004,14R000200050012-7 -5- Production of only the covert items will be cosnpartxnented in the several companies. The responsibility for final assembly will rest with Lockheed and arrangements are being made which wiU permit Lockheed's production, testing, and the bulk of its check-out activities to be compartmented and securely carried out up to the moment when the reconnaissance pod is substituted for a biomedical or instrumented nose cone payload. 8. Financing: The total cost of the program herein outlined, that it will be ttzriited to 12 vehicles, is estimated at approximatelyjI idollars, a. Of this amount, covert p 25X1 account for approximately NRO 25X1 NRO ement of the payload would dollars as follows: rs Recoverable Capsules Cameras Payload Pod and assembly Cost. TOTAL are It is proposed that these costs would be financed by the Central Intell gence Agency, subject to obtaining the funds from the Agency's Reserve. b. The largest part of the dollar total represents the cost of the Thor boosters and the Lockheed second stage vehicles. A rather arbitrary allowance of dollars per completed vehicle has been included for these items which therefore account for dollars of the total. Since thee* will be procured by the Air Force ostensibly for use in a biomedical program or nose cone re-entry program, it is proposed that these items be financed by the Air Force or ARPA consistently with the financing of the programs being used for cover. C. In addition to the foregoing cost for development and procure- t of hardward, there will be significant operational costs. No Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 25X1 NRO 25X1 NRO 251 NRO Approved For Release 200440B1.31_:IcCRETIA-RDP751300514R000200050012-7 UP Nr precise estimate of these is yet available and an. 25X1 r rolles has been included in the above total NRO d. No allowance has been made for the cost of facilities, including especially two new launching pads at Camp Cook and certain tracking facilities in the Pacific, which are being built so as to be available to support this program. The reason for this omission is that these facilities would soon be required in any *vent for military programs and the effect of CORONA has merely been to advance the timing of their construction. Any Increment of cost to be incurred will be small. Approved For Release 2004/08/31 : CIA-RDP75600514R000200050012-7 25X1 NRO