From: Ted Molczan (
 Subject: Re: ? Examples of other 'fake space' claims by governments? 
 Date: 2002-12-04 04:49:45 PST (Allen Thomson) wrote in message news:<>...
> (MattWriter) wrote  
> Along these lines is the continuing question about whether the Soviets,
> pre-Kampiles, thought the first KH-11/KENNAN was an imaging spysat or
> a SIGINT bird. If they thought SIGINT, did the US do anything to
> encourage that belief?

Based on the first KH-11's orbit and manoeuvres, the Soviets should
have recognized it as an imaging recon sat well before they purchased
its technical manual from William Kampiles.

- KH 11-1 was launched using the same booster as KH 9, and western
analysts believed it to have been about the same size and mass as the
KH 9.

- KH 11-1 was launched into one of the KH-9's two standard
sun-sunchronous orbital planes.

- KH 11-1's orbit was much higher than KH-9's (its perigee height was
about the same as KH-9's apogee height); however, it would not have
required a great leap in logic to guess that improved sensor
technology had enabled the use of a higher orbit, thus reducing drag
and providing a longer orbital life.

- KH 11-1 manoeuvred four times prior to 1978 Mar 02, when Kampiles
handed the KH 11 technical manual to the Soviets. At the very least,
those manoeuvres would have made clear that the satellite was alive.
The circumstances and effects of two of the manoeuvres were clearly
indicative of orbital maintenance.

The satellite was launched on 1976 Dec 19, into a 253 km X 541 km
orbit, inclined at 96.95 deg. Four days later, it manoeuvred for the
first time, raising its perigee, resulting in a 348 km by 541 km
orbit. It remained in this orbit for about 3 months, during which the
apogee decayed slightly to about 537 km. This lower drag orbit may
have been chosen to conserve propellant while the new spacecraft was
checked out and calibrated.

On 1977 Mar 27, KH 11-1 manoeuvred for the second time, dropping its
perigee to the operational altitude, resulting in a 270 km X 537 km

The lower perigee greatly increased the rate of decay, so that by 1977
Aug 15, the apogee had decreased to 476 km, setting the stage for the
third manoeuvre, on 1977 Aug 19, a re-boost, which resulted in a 270
km X 528 km orbit, nearly restoring the orbit of 1977 Mar 27.

By 1978 Jan 03, the apogee had decayed to 454 km. Sometime during the
following six days, the satellite manoeuvred for the fourth time, to
restore the apogee, resulting in a 263 km X 534 km orbit.

The Soviets should have recognized these periodic re-boosts as orbit
maintenance of an imaging recon sat in a low perigee orbit.

One account of the alleged Soviet confusion, attributed to Robert C.
Toth, is found in Jeff Richelson's book, America's Secret Eyes in
Space, on page 170:

"The Soviets knew the schedule of the United States' KH-9 spy
satellite to the minute, and when it flew over the Uzbekistan missile
center everything was tucked out of sight. But a few hours later,
another U.S. satellite, the KH-11, passed over the same field and
caught an aerospace glider out in plain view - giving U.S.
intelligence its first evidence that the Soviets were making a craft
similar to the U.S. space shuttle.

The Soviets had been *tricked* into believing the second satellite was
electronically dead."

One big problem with Toth's account is that "electronically dead"
satellites do not manoeuvre, as KH 11-1 had done four times during its
first year in orbit.

Another problem is that it was impossible for KH 11-1 to have followed
behind a KH 9, or any other U.S. imaging reconsat, by as much as a
"few hours".

True, three such spacecraft were in orbit during various periods after
the launch of KH 11-1 and prior to Kampiles' traitorous act:

KH 8-48  1977 Mar 13 - May 26
KH 9-13  1977 Jun 27 - Dec 23
KH 8-49  1977 Sep 23 - Dec 08

However, all three spacecraft were launched at the same time of day as
KH 11-1, from VAFB, into sun-synchronous orbits; therefore, all three
shared the same orbital plane as KH 11-1. As a result, all would have
passed any point on Earth within a span of about 90 minutes. This
means that KH 11-1 and any one of the other three satellites could not
ever have been separated by more than about 45 minutes.

Based on the foregoing, I find it difficult to believe that the
Soviets had not figured out that the mission of the first KH-11
months, perhaps one year, before Kampiles sold them its technical
manual. This in no way justifies Kampiles actions - the manual must
have contained at least some information that would have been useful
to the Soviets.

Ted Molczan