early 1958, a few months after the Soviets launched the first Sputnik,
President Eisenhower authorized a top-priority reconnaissance satellite
project jointly managed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
and the U.S. Air Force. It was to launch into orbit a camera-carrying
spacecraft that would take photographs of the Soviet Union and return
the film to Earth.
secret spy satellite was dubbed Corona by the CIA. To disguise its
true purpose, it was given the cover name Discoverer and described
as a scientific research program.
1960 to 1972, more than 100 Corona missions took over 800,000 photographs.
As cameras and imaging techniques improved, Corona and other high-resolution
reconnaissance satellites provided increasingly detailed information
to U.S. intelligence analysts.