Skip to main content

Declassified! 1972 Spy Satellite Capsule's Deep-Sea Rescue (Photos)

Trieste II Bathysphere Hoisted

CIA

The Trieste II bathysphere was used to recover the sunken HEXAGON recovery vehicle in 3 secret attempts during 1971-72. This image shows it being maneuvered by crane.

HEXAGON Recovery

CIA

During the successful underwater recovery effort in 1972, the U.S. Trieste II Bathysphere was able to locate the damaged HEXAGON film stacks. However, the film disintegrated upon being moved.

Pieces of HEXAGON Spy Satellite Hardware

CIA

A declassified CIA image of part of the HEXAGON Recovery Vehicle of the early 1970's. Image released

HEXAGON Hardware

CIA

A piece of the HEXAGON spy satellite used by the U.S. in the early 1970's. Documents and photographs of the effort to retrieve a damaged HEXAGON recovery vehicle from the Pacific ocean recently became declassified. Image released August 8, 2012.

Styrofoam Cups Showing Apparent Pressure Damage

CIA

This photo from the declassified CIA document regarding the HEXAGON RV retrieval missions (1971-72) appears to show the effects of pressure on styrofoam cups placed carried to the ocean floor aboard the Trieste II bathysphere. Image released August 8, 2012.

HEXAGON Spy Satellite Component

CIA

A component of HEXAGON spy satellite is seen in a recently declassified CIA photograph. Image released August 8, 2012.

Imaging Technique of HEXAGON Spysats

NRO

This NRO image released on Sept. 17, 2011 shows the imaging field of view of the HEXAGON spy satellites, which were used on 20 space reconnaissance missions between 1971 and 1986.

Giant HEXAGON Spy Satellite Revealed

Roger Guillemette/SPACE.com

The massive KH-9 Hexagon spy satellite on display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, after being declassified on Sept. 17, 2011. Longer than a school bus at 60 feet in length and weighing 30,000 pounds at launch, 20 KH-9 Hexagons were launched by the National Reconnaissance Office between 1971 and 1986.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.