CORONA is the name for the first operational space photo reconnaissance satellite. President Dwight David Eisenhower approved the project in Febuary 1958. The project was conceived to take pictures in space of the Soviet Bloc countries and de-orbit the photographic film for processing and exploitation.
The Corona vehicle was launched by a THOR booster and used the AGENA spacecraft as the upper stage. While in orbit, Corona took photographs with a constant rotating stereo panoramic camera system and loaded the exposed photographic film into recovery vehicles.
The recovery vehicles were de-orbited and recovered by Air Force C-119 aircraft while floating to earth on a parachute.
Major components of the CORONA Camera system are shown in detailed drawings and photographs of the systems used.
Side and Top view of the CORONA camera and recovery system as seen on display at the Central Intelligence Agency.