2019-09-16 Spy Satellite History

I have been reading the series about the spy satellites and their developments during the Cold War Era circa the 1960s and after. There was a lot of debate on whether or not to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on developing advanced spy satellites to spy on the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. The author stated that the USSR suppression of the uprising in Czechoslovakia in August, 1968 “…was a great motivator…” for getting real time high resolution satellite photos of the earth.

I was in the army and stationed in Wuerzburg, Germany for 16 months during 1968 and 1969. I was trained as a Radar repairman and I was in the 69th Artillery Group. We were close to the border with Czechoslovakia, and there was a very great concern that the Soviets were sending a lot of military only a hundred miles away. One thing I can remember was that during all of those 16 months, the weather was cloudy and overcast the whole day, from dawn to dusk. I might have seen the sun for a short time at sunrise and sunset. During that time I could count the number of sunny days on one hand with a finger or two left over. Being that I was from Sunny So. California, I found that disappointing.

So I can say with certainty that the spy satellite photos of Prague in Czechoslovakia during the time around August, 1968 would have been pretty much useless, just a lot of white clouds. Perhaps this was why the spy agencies didn’t consider real time imaging as important.

The author was Dwayne Day and his email address was given as zirconic1 (at) cox.net but he said that there was a lot of spam, so I’m not sure if my emails are getting through. I’m going to try to contact him. I corresponded with him and told him about the above regarding my experiences at that time period. Here is some of what I said.

(beginning of correspondence)
The Southern Germany country is rolling hills and a major part of transportation was by trains, which ran on electricity. The longer trains needed extra power, and oil (and gasoline, too) was very expensive, so they used coal and old steam ‘choo-choo’ locomotives to help pull them uphill. Back then there were a lot of pollutants in the air from the trains and other vehicles. Today the advances in smog controls have probably cut pollution a lot, so I assume the air quality is much better.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that the water in the atmosphere has to have particles to condense on in order to make clouds. So this might be the reason for the dreary overcast days back then. I just finished reading The Chilling Stars, which explains this and why the authors theorize that the Sun has more influence on the global temperatures than human generated greenhouse gases.

(end of correspondence)

update Sep 20 – I got Dino Brugioni’s book Eyes in the Sky, it’s hard cover and a lot to read. I will do so as time permits.

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