Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Declassified: Spy Satellite Deep-Sea Rescue

Before digital cameras, film had to be physically dropped from spy satellites. When the parachute failed, the CIA had to go find one.

Mon Aug 13, 2012 01:05 PM ET
Content provided by Denise Chow
  • In the 1970s, capsules of film were dropped from spy satellites with parachutes.
  • When a parachute failed, the U.S. Navy spent months retrieving the film capsule and perfecting deep-sea rescue.
CIA satellite capsule photo According to the declassified CIA document, "On 10 July 1971, the third HEXAGON RV was lost. The parachute failed to reef before fully deploying, and it was snapped off at the swivel." Click to enlarge this image.
Central Intelligence Agency

It's a plot worthy of a Hollywood action movie: 40 years ago, the U.S. Navy carried out a daring mission to retrieve a top-secret film capsule that had settled more than 16,000 feet (4,876 meters) underwater on the ocean floor. At the time, the expedition was the deepest undersea salvage operation ever attempted.
Documents released publicly by the Central Intelligence Agency on Aug. 8 detail the capsule's incredible recovery, using what was at the time the Navy's most sophisticated deep-sea submersible.

MORE: http://news.discovery.com/adventure/classified-cia-satellite-film-ocean-navy-recovery-120813.html

Sources: Space.com, Discovery Magazine, Central Intelligence Agency.


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