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Chapter 3:
Visible Imagery
This chapter discusses remote sensing in the visible EM spectrum, beginning with images and technology from the first remote sensing satellites (the Corona spy satellites) and concluding with a look at several optical imaging satellites, particularly the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Corona was America's first operational space-reconnaissance project. It was developed as a highly classified program under the joint management of the CIA and USAF, a relationship that evolved into the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). For context, note that the first Soviet satellite, Sputnik, was launched on October 14, 1957, and Van Allen's Explorer spacecraft flew on a Redstone rocket on January 31, 1958. President Eisenhower approved the Corona program in February 1958. This proved to be farsighted, because when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in a U-2 on May 1, 1960, the president was forced to terminate reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union (see the newspaper in Fig. 3.1). The first Corona test launch, on February 28, 1959, was the first of 12 failed missions in the Discover series (a cover name)—seven involving launch, five involving satellite and camera malfunctions. Mission 13 yielded the first successful capsule recovery from space on August 10, 1960.
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