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QUILL

QUILL was an experimental Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, based on the Corona satellite and available SAR hardware, which flew one time in 1964. Because of diplomatic and security concerns the brief mission imaged only selected targets with the United States. Those targets could be inspected on the ground to validate the intelligence value of orbital SAR without alerting the Soviets to the capability or touching off diplomatic protest over active illumination of sovereign territory. This was a proof-of-concept mission.

Aides

Declassified Histories

Two histories about QUILL have been declassified and released: Robert Perry’s 1972 “Radar in Orbit” history of the QUILL program and Robert L. Butterworth’s 2004 revision his own history, The First Imaging Radar Satellite.

Declassified QUILL Lecture

On August 14, 2011 a lecture about QUILL was given at NRO headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia by Dr. Jeffery Charleston. This lecture has been declassified and provided to the public here along with the pamphlet which was made available at the lecture. The declassified pictures used during the lecture can be found in the lecture transcript.

Declassified Documents

# Document Title Date No. of Pages
1 1962 Summary of the Satellite Reconnaissance Program 12/14/1962 5
A memorandum from DNRO Charyk to DCI McCone summarizing the status of the Satellite Reconnaissance Program. Project QUILL is mentioned on the last page
2 Detailed Plan of QUILL Program 3/6/1963 5
  A cable providing a plan of the QUILL program including: Security policy, security procedures, funding procedures, contractor relationships, hardware handling, launch and recovery responsibilities    
3 MFR Discussion Regarding Project QUILL 3/21/1963 6
  A memorandum for the record in the form of a discussion transcript. The discussion centers around security aspects of project QUILL    
4 MFR Discussion Regarding Project QUILL 3/29/1963 2
  A memorandum for the record from a meeting that took place 28 March 1963. Lt. Col. Bradburn presents an overview of a briefing he plans to give to the NRO staff about QUILL    
5 Status of Air Force QUILL Program 4/1/1963 8
  A Memorandum providing a detailed report on Major Bradburn's briefings in March 1963 and recommendations for Quill security plans    
6 Cable-QUILL Cover Story and Flow Plan 4/9/1963 3
A Cable delineating the QUILL cover story and flow plan agreed to at a meeting with Major Bradburn in 1963
7 Status of Satellite Reconnaissance Program 11/13/1963 9
  DNRO Mcmillan's notes for a status report given to the USIB and 5412 Group on 14 November 1963    
8 DCI Review of FY 65 NRP 7/23/1964 6
  A memorandum from DCI John McCone to DNRO regarding a preliminary review of the FY 1965 NRP program. Quill is mentioned on page three of the memo    
9 DNRO comments on DCI memo regarding review of FY 1965 NRP 7/29/1964 12
  A memorandum from DNRO McMillan to Deputy Secretary of Defense. The DNRO comments back to Secretary Vance about the DCI's review from 23 July 1964. QUILL is mentioned on page four    
10 Status of Quill Project 10/22/1964 2
  A memorandum for the Special Security Center's chief providing an opinion concerning the protection of the QUILL product    
11 Comments on QUILL meeting at SSC 10/22/1964 1
  Comments regarding security classification and control for products of project QUILL    
12 QUILL End Product in BYEMAN 10/23/2012 2
  A summary of discussions regarding the protection of the QUILL end product as well as the creation of an evaluation team    
13 Project QUILL Product Security Control and Classification 12/7/1964 6
  Project QUILL security plan and associated memoranda for including QUILL in the BYEMAN system    
14 Ad hoc QUILL Product Evaluation Team 1/1/1965 2
  A Memo from DNRO to DNPIC requesting the formation of an ad hoc evaluation team for the QUILL product    
15 Quick Reaction Surveillance Systems 1/11/1965 12
  DNRO's response to the Secretary of Defense regarding a requirement. On page 11 QUILL is discussed as an exploratory program    
16 DNRO to DCI on Evaluation of QUILL Feasibility Demonstration 2/3/1965 1
  Memorandum from DNRO to DCI regarding successful QUILL orbit and requesting approval to form the evaluation team for the end product    
17 DDCI response to DNRO on Evaluation of QUILL Feasibility Demonstration 2/8/1965 1
  Deputy DCI response to DNRO regarding the formation of the QUILL evaluation team    
18 Program Vehicle 2355 System Report Volume 1 Summary 3/31/1965 152
  Volume 1 of the Lockheed Missiles & Space Company's System report. This volume provides a review of the complete scope of activities associated with bringing the QUILL system into being    
19 Program Vehicle 2355 System Report Volume 2, Engineering 3/31/1965 431
  Volume 2 of the Lockheed Missiles & Space Company's System report. This volume provides a review of the engineering activities associated with bringing the QUILL system into being    
20 Program Vehicle 2355 System Report Volume 3, Flight Performance 3/31/1965 235
  Volume 3 of the Lockheed Missiles & Space Company's System report. This volume contains the orbital performance data as well discussion of the performance of the various subsystems    
21 KP-II Program Report Volume 1 - Design and Development 4/1/1965 186
  This document discusses the initial system analysis, design, and development of the Goodyear KP-II side-looking doppler radar system    
22 KP-II Program Report Volume 2 - Testing 4/1/1965  191
  This document discusses the ground tests to which the Goodyear KP-II side-looking doppler radar system was subjected and presents the results of the orbital flight test    
23 Study of Radar Imagery 4/1/1965 1
  Memorandum from DNRO tasking a study for Radar imagery interpretation.    
24 Project QUILL Exploitation Evaluation Report 8/1/1965 106
  The National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) Exploitation Evaluation report for project QUILL    
25 Semi-annual report to the PFIAB 1965-66 11/1/1965 59
  The Semi-annual report to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) on the activities of the National Reconnaissance Program includes a mention of QUILL on pages 36-37    
26 MFR No objections to dropping QUILL 5/28/1968 1
  A memorandum from 1968 agreeing to drop the QUILL program    
27 DS&T approves deleting QUILL from the BYEMAN system 2/6/1969 1
  CIA/DS&T memorandum to DNRO Flax approving the removal of QUILL from the BYEMAN system    
28 Cable - Discontinuation of QUILL Announced 2/10/1969 2
  A cable announcing the discontinuation of the QUILL program and requesting an immediate action to debrief all personnel    
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