Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The KH-11, also referenced by the codenames Crystal and Kennan, was a type of reconnaissance satellite launched by the United States from December 1976 to November 1988 and used until 1995. Manufactured by Lockheed, the KH-11 was the first American spy satellite to utilize electro-optical digital imaging. It is believed to resemble the Hubble Space Telescope in size and shape, as the satellites were shipped in similar containers. Using a powerful 2.3-meter mirror, the telescope is believed to have a ground resolution of 0.15 meters (6 inches). Different versions of the KH-11 vary in mass from 13,000 to 13,500 kilograms. Length is believed to be 19.5 meters, and diameter is 3 meters or less. Data was transmitted through the United States military's Satellite Data System relay network.

KH-11s generally operated for about 3 years, although it is believed that at least one was operational for 11 years. It is believed that the KH-11 began to be replaced by the KH-12 around 1990. Many observers believe that the KH-12 is really just an incremental improvement over the KH-11, so some still call later satellites KH-11s. The "Improved Crystal" nickname that the KH-12 has also comes from the idea that it is just incrementally better. The main difference is that the KH-12 might include the ability for "live" viewing of imagery.