Corona: The Curious CIA Satellite That Used a Unique Lens

Declassified is an original Phoblographer series that digs deep into historical documents to examine how the government used photography. Hit the Listen to this Article button to follow along with the story.

If we mention the word Corona today, we’d be referring to the virus. That’s just the way of common vernacular. In the early 1970s, though, the word meant something different to the CIA. Corona was the name of a spy satellite. And according to many documents, it’s one of the first spy satellites. Satellites were used for many things back in the day. In an earlier Declassified episode, we talked about their use by civilians. In fact, citizens gathered lots of information about the Russians with their satellites at home. As the predecessor to drones, satellite use by common folk quickly fell out of favor. And none of them were as capable as the Corona.

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