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A decades-old secret revealed: stories of the KH-9 Hexagon spy satellites

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The decades-old stories of the KH-9 Hexagon spy satellites have been shared by some of the men who worked on the project.

KH-9 Hexagon
KH-9 Hexagon

After keeping it a secret for over forty years, the men who worked on the KH-9 Hexagon spy satellite project have finally shared their stories. The project, dubbed 'Big Bird,' was finally declassified this past September, allowing the men — scientists, inventors and engineers — to describe the intensity of building these imaging satellites for customers such as the CIA and United States Air Force. Working on these satellites, which were rigged with 60 miles of film and capable of photographing huge, panoramic images of enemy territory, meant that some workers never saw the light of day, and sometimes had to skip family gatherings. "It was intensely demanding, thrilling and the greatest experience of my life," tells Al Gayhart, an engineer who was drafted to work on the project right out of college.

Be sure to hit the source links If you're interested in more of the men's stories and details of the satellites. And as an added bonus, we've also included links to Project Hexagon declassified schematics and photos of the satellites and their cameras, images captured by the KH-9 and a project Big Bird overview video. Click away!