CIA Declassifies Cold War Spy Satellite Rescue Photos

WIRED has unveiled a collection of previously classified photographs of a CIA mission to retrieve a fallen satellite 16,000 feet beneath the Pacific ocean:

Only July 10, 1971, America’s newest photo reconnaissance satellite, the KH-9 Hexagon, dropped a capsule loaded with film toward the Earth. The re-entry vehicle was supposed to open its parachute; an American aircraft would snatch it out of the sky in mid-descent. But the chute was never unfurled. The re-entry vehicle hit the Pacific Ocean with a force of approximately 2,600 G’s. And then it sunk down into the deep, before settling at 16,000 feet.

Check out the entire gallery at WIRED, and when you’re done there, browse through declassified documentation at the CIA Reading Room.




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  • Elron McKenzie

    Wow, 16,000 miles. I didn’t realize the ocean was so deep.

    • Matt Staggs

      Ha ha! Good catch! I’ll fix that right away.

    • Ironaddict06

      Good one.

      • Matt Staggs

        Yeah, it cracked me up when Elron pointed out the mistake. It’s a good catch. 16,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea WITH THE CIA!

    • BuzzCoastin

       yeah, but that’s the only piece of misinformation in the article
      everything else is gospel