By © Charles P. Vick 2007 All Rights Reserved



The opinions and evaluations stated here in are only the author’s and cannot be construed to reflect those of any Government agency, company, institute or association. It is based on public information, circumstantial evidence, informed speculation, and declassified U.S. intelligence community documents, official US government documents and histories, oral histories, interviews and engineering analysis. As with all data regarding the intelligence programs of the US intelligence community, this analysis is subject to revision--and represents a work in progress.

KH-6, LANYARD Launches,

Spacecraft LV Date Life Apogee Perigee Incl.
1. LANYARD/C-61 TAT Agena-D Mar. 18, 1963 LV Failure      
2. LANYARD/C-64 TAT Agena-D May 18, 1963 8 308 95 74.54
3. LANYARD/C-68 TAT Agena-D July 31, 1963 12 255 97


KH-6 LANYARD Spacecraft Description

LANYARD was an early attempt to develop and gain higher resolution imagery, which flew one successful mission in 1963. The satellites were designed to de-orbit a film capsule (referred to as a "bucket") from space with mid-air recovery of the returning capsule by a specially equipped aircraft. Early systems operated with a single bucket. The spacecraft had a maximum diameter of 5 feet or 60 inches with a total Agena-D length of 20.86 feet and a total spacecraft Agena-D rocket stage length of about 35.6 feet. It was launched by the Thrust Augmented Thor Agena-D booster into an inclination of 65.82 degrees and with a perigee of 134.84 miles and an apogee of 229.30 miles. It was designed to carry some sub-satellites science payloads but no solar arrays for longer duration missions. It utilized the usual allotment of sun earth and horizon sensors with one General Electric film return capsule.

KH-6 LANYARD Optical System

The KH-6 LANYARD Kodak advanced lens drive scanning Optical Bar camera system with its forward tilting primary mirror and folding optics created images on large format 5 inch wide film. The KH-6 camera was the not the full development of its potential that needed considerable refinements introduced with the KH-7 camera. This system produced images with a resolution between 60 and 24 inches. That is the objects that were of that size of on a side 60-24 inches or above could readily be identified from the imagery. The multi-position primary tilting mirror had an approximate swath of perhaps somewhat greater than 30 degrees. The KH-6 camera was programmed to tilt between 15 degrees fore and 15 degrees aft to provide stereo coverage of the same land area twice during a photographic pass. The KH-6 carried a single panoramic camera. LANYARD had a very significant technical issue with lateral aiming of the camera which was not identified until later. The issue was similar to the KH-7 camera problem "If one target was directly under the satellite it could be difficult or impossible to move the camera to a target off to the side in the limited time available to get a picture before the spacecraft was out of range. As a result, the KH-7 was 'access limited' and the satellites usually finished their missions with unused film because the consumables needed to keep the spacecraft in orbit ran out before the film" (Richelson, J. "America's Secret Eyes in Space." New York : Ballinger, 1990, p 78.) The camera was actually smaller in diameter as it was mounted with in the five foot 60 inch diameter external airframe with an inner diameter close to 44 inches.

    | KH         | System  | Successful| Period of  | Amount of  | No. of     |
    | Designator |         |  Mission  | Operations | Film       | Primary    |
    |            |         |  Numbers  |            | (ft.)      | Camera     |
    |            |         |           |            |            | Frames     |
    | KH-6       | LANYARD | 8003      | March 1963 | 2,251      | 910        |
    |            |         |           | -  July    |            |            |
    |            |         |           | 1963       |            |            |


    1. McDowell, Jonathan, US Reconnaissance Satellite Programs, Part-1, Quest, Summer 1995 pp. 22-33

    2. SSB Satellite Support Bus, Lockheed Missile & Space Company pp. 1-20

    3. Commercial Titan-III Users Manuel

    4. Bus-1 Implementation Concept for Space Station Alpha, Lockheed Missile & Space Company, Inc., Nov. 25, 1993.,ppp1-4, 17-31, 64.

    5. Day, Dwayne Allen, Sensitivity About Gambit And Hexagon Imagery Declassification, History of the Gambit and Hexagon Programs, The Recon Report September 20, 2000, FPSpace, Aug. 30, 2000.

    6. Quick Facts about the KH-7 and KH-9 Mapping Imagery

    7. Declassified MOL and Gemini – B design details & Declassified MOL Baseline Configuration studies

    8. Day, Dwayne A., A Failed Phoenix: The KH-6 LANYARD Reconnaissance Satellite, Spaceflight, Vol. 39, May 1997, pp. 170-174.

    9. KH-6 Camera System declassified NPIC document February 1963.

    10. Day, Dwayne A, Pushing Iron Spaceflight, Vol. 46, July 2004, pp. 289-293.


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