Between August 1960 and May 1972, the Corona program – our nation’s first generation of photo reconnaissance satellites – took over 800,000 images from space on 2.1 million feet of film.
Over the course of 12 years and 145 launches, the Corona program “allowed the United States and its allies to keep track of military targets and operations in denied areas and to understand Sino-Soviet strategic capabilities,” according to an National Reconnaissance Office press release. “The imagery allowed the U.S. Government to make more informed national security decisions based on accurate information rather than guesswork.”
“The Nation was very much in the dark and the information Corona gathered shed light on dark corners in denied areas,” said Jeffrey K. Harris, former NRO director.
On Feb. 24, 1995, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order to declassify the Corona program, along with the subsequent Argon and Lanyard programs. The declassified images from Corona can be found at the U.S. Geological Survey website