CIA’s Underwater Space Mission Revealed

Recovering a Secret Spy Satellite Capsule from 16,400 feet below the Pacific Ocean

April 26, 2013 | 7:00pm
Presented Online | Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Free, Registration Required

A Panel Discussion moderated by CIA historian David Waltrop 

Capt. Don Walsh, USN (Ret.), commander, Marianas Trench Expedition
Cmdr. Richard Taylor, USN (Ret.), former Trieste II (DSV-I) pilot
Lt. Cmdr. Beauford Myers, USN (Ret.), former executive officer, White Sands (ADR-20)
Mr. Lee Mathers, former U.S. Naval intelligence officer

In the predawn hours of April 26, 1972, the U.S. Navy’s most advanced deep sea submersible surfaced about 350 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands after salvaging a mysterious item from a depth of 16,400 feet below the Pacific Ocean. Publicly known as a “data package” from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the object was actually part of a film return capsule on the first mission of a new American spy satellite, codenamed HEXAGON. The United States launched the satellite in June 1971 to photograph denied intelligence targets, but the following month the parachute on one of its four capsules containing the valuable film malfunctioned on reentry, causing it to crash into the ocean and sink on impact. The U.S. Navy and CIA devised a bold plan to use the manned Trieste II (DSV-1) to salvage the capsule from the ocean floor, in what would become the deepest underwater operation conducted to date. 

Learn about this now-declassified mission as operation participants and experts on deep sea research discuss the events that transpired.

Lectures are free, but tickets are required.

The museum will remain open to the public until 7:00 pm.