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Rochester’s Reconnaissance Satellite: Coming Full Circle with a Historical Moment

Welcoming guests as they enter the Strasenburgh Planetarium lobby sits a Gambit, a reconnaissance satellite manufactured in Rochester during the Cold War.  In the early ‘60s, the U.S. government entrusted Eastman Kodak’s Research & Engineering unit, now owned by L3Harris Technologies, with the development of a satellite observation system to secure photos of Soviet military capabilities. From 1963 to 1967, Gambit-1 flew 38 missions capturing high-resolution images through an innovative camera system and ejecting film into a capsule to be recovered by USAF aircrafts.

In 2011, the program was declassified allowing the limited remaining Gambits to be displayed in various locations, with one now on long-term loan to the Rochester Museum & Science Center.  Frequently used for exhibit installations, Boulter was brought on to transport and install the historic piece.  Using a forklift and an assortment of rigging gear, our three-man crew safely removed the Gambit from its 6,100-pound protective case and skated it into place.  Nearly 60 years after the program’s inception, the community, including many individuals that worked on this project, are now able to view this piece of Rochester history.

 

 

To learn more about the Gambit-1 program, please visit: https://www.nro.gov/Portals/65/documents/history/csnr/gambhex/Docs/GAM_1_Fact_sheet.pdf