The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) describes the Project UPWARD as the following:

In August 2014, the NRO released declassified Project UPWARD records from their archives. Project UPWARD was a joint project that began in 1964, when the NRO and NASA signed an agreement to transfer optical technology from the NRO to NASA. UPWARD was initiated as a low orbit, high resolution contingency program, should NASA’s primary effort to certify lunar landing sites fail.

The primary NASA lunar landing certification effort consisted of a high orbit camera program called Lunar Orbiter and a landing vehicle program called Surveyor. Since NASA’s programs were successful in certifying four lunar landing sites, there were no further requirements for UPWARD. In 1967, NRO and NASA jointly decided to cancel the project.

The program was going to fly a modified version of the KH-7 GAMBIT into orbit.

The KH-7 (Air Force Program 206) was a reconnaissance satellite used by the United States from July 1963 to June 1967. Like the older Corona system, it acquired imagery intelligence by taking photographs and returning the undeveloped film to earth. It achieved a typical ground-resolution of 2 ft (0.61 m) to 3 ft (0.91 m). Though most of the imagery from the KH-7 satellites was declassified in 2002, details of the satellite program (and the satellite’s construction) remained classified until 2011.

The NRO posted over 1,000 pages on UPWARD to their website, however, many times agencies only post a portion of what was available. So, in early 2015, I filed a request for UPWARD documents, and came up with additional records. Both releases can be downloaded below.

National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Declassified Documents on Project UPWARD

blank   Communications between NASA, and the NRO, along with all documents, reports, etc., regarding the Lunar Mapping and Survey System, which had the classified codename UPWARD [72 Pages, 3.1MB]

# Document Title Date No. of Pages
1 blank    DOD/CIA/NASA Agreement on NASA’s Reconnaissance Program 08/28/1963 3
Draft copy of agreement to be signed by D/NASA and SECDEF
2 blank    Manned Lunar Reconnaissance 10/1/1963 2
Memorandum for the Record about a 30 September 1963 meeting held at the Pentagon regarding the implementation of the NASA-DOD-agreement on reconnaissance system development.
3 blank    Support of the NASA Lunar Program 3/24/1964 18
Letter from Brockway McMillan to Dr. Robert Seamans Jr. regarding the initial steps taken to support the NASA Lunar Program. Also includes changes to the agreement and security instructions for NASA.
4 blank    DOD/NASA Agreement on the NASA Manned Lunar Mapping and Survery Program 4/20/1964 1
Agreement formalizing the arrangments between NASA and DOD with respect to lunar mapping and survey operations. Signed by Brockway McMillan and Robert Seamans.
5 blank    NASA’s Reconnaissance Activities 04/23/1965 4
Internal memorandum and draft related to percieved NASA infringement of DOD functions and security of the NRP’s satellite reconnaissance programs.
6 blank    Letter to the Secretary of Defense 05/19/1965 1
James Webb to Robert McNamara informing him of continued consideration of the mechanics of the agreements from April.
7 blank    Chronology 08/13/1965 6
An untitled chronology of NASA efforts 1963-1965
8 blank    DOD Concern with NASA Remote Sensing Activities 04/11/1966 9
A memorandum for the Manned Spaceflight Policy Committee regarding criteria and organizational mechanisms for identifying NASA activities of concern to the DOD.
9 blank    LM&SS Program 12/9/1966 2
Talking Points for DNRO regarding certain statuses requried for LM&SS missions and clarifications on viability of components under long term storage conditions.
10 blank    Cable: Information Policy regarding LM&SS System Development 01/27/1967 7
Background on the LM&SS effort and information policy stance. Cable also includes answers to potential queries.
11 blank    NASA Plans regarding UPWARD 2/3/1967 5
Briefing background for the Manned Space Flight Policy Committee (MSFPC) meeting on 9 Feb 1967. Discusses changes in schedule for the first launch and high-level desciptions of the various missions.
12 blank    NASA’s Use of UPWARD Cameras in Earth Orbit: Memos from Donald Hornig (White House) to DNRO and D/NASA 2/9/1967 2
Donald Hornig to DNRO and D/NASA brings up the issue of classification for the imagery taken by UPWARD in the context of the 1968 program descriptions to Congress.
13 blank    NASA’s Use of UPWARD Cameras in Earth Orbit: Memo from Acting DCI to DNRO 2/13/1967 1
Acting Director of Central Inteligence request to review procedures in place to protect the imagery taken by UPWARD in appropriate classified channels.
14 blank    NASA Use of the UPWARD Cameras in Earth Orbit 2/15/1967 3
DNRO to Deputy Secretary of Defense regarding steps being taken to protect the GAMBIT camera in light of NASA’s extended use UPWARD after 1967.
15 blank    NASA’s Use of UPWARD Cameras in Earth Orbit: Memo from DNRO Flax to Dr. Hornig 2/15/1967 2
DNRO Flax responds to Dr. Donald Hornig’s (White House) 9 February memo indicating the creation of a working group to look into his concerns.
16 blank    NASA’s Use of UPWARD Cameras in Earth Orbit 2/17/1967 1
DNRO Flax responds to Acting DCI’s 13 February memo indicating the creation of a working group to look into his concerns.
17 blank    Procedures for Handling LM&SS Photography and Related Public Information 2/23/1967 2
Dr. Seamans’ response to Dr. Hornig’s letter of 9 February regarding the procedures for handling LM&SS photography.
18 blank    Alternative Operational/Information Plans for an Earth-Orbiting Test of the UPWARD Camera 2/24/1967 1
MISSING STAMP – Memo to DNRO Flax regarding status of operational plans for handling of the information from Earth orbit test flights of UPWARD.
19 blank    Memo for Dr. Flax re Reservations on Use of Camera 3/11/1967 1
MISSING STAMP – Memo to DNRO Flax regarding Dr. Vance’s reservations against the use of GAMBIT camera in the Apollo Applications Program.
20 blank    Minutes of the February 9 MSFPC Meeting Part 1 3/16/1967 1
Memo For Dr. Foster, Dr. Flax, Mr. Fink from William Yost re: Following up on the Minutes from 9 Feb MSFPC meeting
21 blank    Minutes of the February 9 MSFPC Meeting Part 2 3/16/1967 1
Memo For Dr. Seamans, Dr. Mueller, Dr. Newell, Mr. Sweet from William Yost re: Following up on the Minutes from 9 Feb MSFPC meeting
22 blank    Memo for the ExCom: Astronomical Observations from Space 3/17/1967 5
Memo to the ExCom to summarize the present status of discussions between the MOL office and NASA regarding use of the DORIAN optics and the general security concerns for a NASA program of astronomy from space.
23 blank    Alternative Operational/Information Plans for an Earth-Orbiting Test of the UPWARD Camera 3/17/1967 3
Memo for Dr. Flax from Paul E. Worthman re Alternative Operational/Information Plans for an Earth-Orbiting Test of the UPWARD Camera
24 blank    Conference with CIA on NASA matters 3/20/1967 2
Memo for Dr. Flax from Paul E. Worthman re: Conference with Mr. Sheldon on NASA matters including concerns associated with the use of the UPWARD camera.
25 blank    Memorandum for Gen. Stewart on MOL/UPWARD 3/28/1967 1
Memorandum for General Stewart, SAFSL regarding security concerns for MOL for astronomical purposes based on the UPWARD experiences. Dr. Flax is preparing comments on MOL/NASA for discussion at the next ExCom meeting.
26 blank    Manned Space Flight Polic Committee (Agenda Item: Earth Orbit Test of LM&SS) 3/31/1967 1
NRO internal memo to General Stewart regarding NOT to release LM&SS Earth Orbit Planning documentation to NASA until committee policy review is completed.
27 blank    LM&SS Earth Orbit Test Objectives (preliminary) 3/31/1967 10
Document defines the Earth orbit test objectivess for the payload module of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS).
28 blank    DCI to DNRO on use of the GAMBIT camera by NASA 4/5/1967 1
Memorandum from Director CIA (Helms) to Dircetor NRO (Flax) regarding delaying endorsement of the proposed NASA use of the Gambit camera pending ExCom consideration.
29 blank    Comparison of Lunar Orbiter and LM&SS 4/11/1967 8
NASA Document – Comparison of the Lunar Orbiter and Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). NASA re-examined the need for the continuing development of the LM&SS and makes a comparison of the baseline and augmented versions of the Lunar Orbiter and the LM&SS.
30 blank    Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS) 4/19/1967 2
NASA Document – Memorandum raises concerns on the direction of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS) and the role of the LM&SS in the NASA program.
31 blank    Release of UPWARD Earth-Orbit Information to Dr. Steininger 4/21/1967 2
Memorandum for Dr. Flax from Paul E. Worthman regarding the advisability to release of UPWARD Earth-Orbit Information to Dr. Steininger prior to ExCom meeting.
32 blank    Cable: Support to NASA 04/25/1967 1
Cable requesting USAF provide a plan for exploitation of NASA MSS Systems used in the Lunar environment and recommendations for a Lunar Mapping System to provide MC&G support for proposed Lunar surface exploratin programs.
33 blank    NASA Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS) 04/28/1967 4
Memoranum DNRO to Mr. Vance, Mr. Helms, Dr. Hornig and extension/continuation of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS)/UPWARD past 1967.
34 blank    Meeting to Formulate Action Plan for Making AAP Decisions 5/31/1967 2
NASA Document re meeting to identify and clarify the specific program details and requirements that need to be resolved to formulate an action plan for the AAP program decisions.
35 blank    Difficulties in Proceeding with the UPWARD Program 6/1/1967 1
Memorandum for Dr. Hornig to Mr. Helms and Mr. Vance re difficulties in proceeding with the UPWARD program.
36 blank    June 1, 1967 Meeting to Discuss AAP Payloads 6/9/1967 3
NASA Document re June 1, 1967 meeting to formulate action plan for making AAP decisions.
37 blank    Lunar Mapping and Survey System 6/19/1967 6
NASA Document re the accomplishments of the basic Lunar Orbiter project and the cancellation of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS).
38 blank    LM&SS Earth Orbit Test Objectives 6/23/1967 1
Memorandum from Gen Martin to DNRO Flax re providing a preliminary copy of the LM&SS Earth Orbit Test Objectives to NASA pending LM&SS E.O. approval.
39 blank    Lunar Mapping and Survey System Part 1 7/5/1967 5
NASA Document re Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS) review based on requirements and budget factors.
40 blank    Lunar Mapping and Survey System Part 2 7/13/1967 2
NASA Document from AD/Deputy Seamans to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight re Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). Based on the requirements considered in the review, Dr. Seamans concluded NASA was not justified in continuing the LM&SS in the NASA program. He also requested a rapid study to examine a justification for continuing the LM&SS on the basis of a requirement for high resolution photography from lunar orbit to determine the status of equipment used in a lunar landing mission.
41 blank    Lunar Mapping and Survey System Part 3 7/18/1967 4
NASA Document – Memorandum from Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to AD/Deputy Administrator Office of the Administrator re Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS) memo dated July 13, 1967 regarding resolution requirements.
42 blank    Termination of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System 7/25/1967 2
NASA Document – Memorandum Mr. Seamans to Dr. Mueller re termination of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). Based on the review of the LM&SS requirements, Mr. Mueller concluded that there are no requirements sufficient to warrant continuation of the development effort.
43 blank    Termination Plan for the Lunar Mapping & Survey System 8/21/1967 25
NASA Document – Memorandum Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to Deputy Administrator re the termination plans for the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS).
44 blank    NASA Lunar Mapping and Survey System 8/22/1967 2
Memorandrum DNRO Flax to Mr. Nitze, Mr. Helms, Dr. Hornig re NASA Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). After review, NASA has now taken action to terminate the program.
45 blank    Storage and Disposition of LM&SS Hardware 9/18/1967 2
Cable re the storage and disposition of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). This process will be conducted in such a manner to minimise cost but also protect the NRO security requirements.
46 blank    NASA to DNRO on Termination of LM&SS 10/12/1967 5
Memorandum Dr. Seamans to Mr. Flax regarding termination of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS)/UPWARD. Mr. Seamans concluded that it would not be prudent for NASA to retain the classified hardware, with the one exception of the three Itek (-9) mapping cameras.
47 blank    DNRO to NASA on Termination of LM&SS 12/1/1967 2
Memorandum DNRO Flax to Dr. Seamans re termination of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS). DNRO Flax also advised on the approval for NASA retention of the Itek (-9) mapping cameras with appropriate security precautions.
48 blank    Disposition of ITEK (-9) Mapping Cameras 1/2/1968 1
NASA Memomrandum Dr. Seamans to Dr. Flax thanking him for the action to decontrol the Itek (-9) mapping cameras and advised that NASA can utilize this hardware within the contraints outline. He also advised of the debriefing process of NASA personnel holding the UPWARD clearance.
49 blank    Project UPWARD 1/8/1968 1
Memorandum via NRO Staff to Dr. Flax re NASA appreciation for decontrolling the Itek (-9) mapping camera.
50 blank    “Terms of Reference” (TOR) for the Release of ITEK (-9) Mapping Cameras to NASA 3/6/1968 5
NRO internal memo for signature to allow the release of terms of reference for the Itek (-9) mapping camera to NASA
51 blank    TOR Covering NASA’s Use of ITEK (-9) Mapping Camera 3/7/1968 4
Memorandum NRO Staff Director Berg to Dr. Newell/NASA re Terms of Reference which will allow NASA to use the Itek (-9) mapping cameras.
52 blank    Dod Policy on NASA’s On-Orbit Astronomical Experiments 8/30/1968 7
Memo to DNRO on offical DOD security attitudes toward NASA’s on-orbit astronomy program.
53 blank    NASA Query re: Fairchild Briefing on SI Camera 5/1/1969 3
Memorandum for the Record re NASA query for Fairchield briefing on the SI camera. Memo addresses security concerns of Fairchild briefing NASA personel on the SI camera and the approval of reinstatement of UPWARD clearances for two NASA employees to allow discussions with Fairchild.
54 blank    UPWARD Security 1/12/1970 1
Memorandum from NRO Staff to BCO, NASA advising NRO’s plans to close the UPWARD compartmentation effective March 1, 1970. Residual material would be handled under the GAMBIT compartmentation.
55 blank    Trip Coordination 5/4/1970 2
NASA request for concurrence of NASA personnel to travel to SAFSP facilities for deliberations regarding dispositionof residual LM&SS materials.
56 blank    UPWARD Mapping and Survey System 11/9/1970 2
Internal Deliberations providing Dr. Naka background information on the UPWARD development.
57 blank    Disposition of ITEK (-9) Mapping Cameras 6/29/1972 1
NASA memorandum to Lt. Colonel Hofmann, USAF SACC member advising the disposition of the Itek (-9) mapping cameras. The cameras have been declared surplus at Manned Space Center, Houston, Tx and are available at Surplus Sales at MSC. No documentation associating NRO programs is with the cameras.
58 blank    Project UPWARD: The NRO and NASA 2/27/1976 107
Chapter of NRO history pertaining to the UPWARD program.
59 blank    Alternative Operational/Information Plans for an Earth-Orbiting Test of the UPWARD Camera no date 9
Study of alternatives to cover status of LM&SS as per action item in 4th meeting of the MSFPC
60 blank    Termination of LM&SS no date 4
A paper sent internally at NASA regarding the termination of the Lunar Mapping and Survey System (LM&SS).
61 blank    Preliminary Engineering Description of the Survey Camera for the Apollo Mapping and Survey System, Volume 1 no date 374
Preliminary Engineering Description of the Survey Camera for the Apollo Mapping and Survey System, Volume 1. The engineering study prepared under contract by Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY for Headquarters Space System Divison (SAFSP)
62 blank    Preliminary Engineering Description of the Survey Camera for the Apollo Mapping and Survey System, Volume 2 no date 520
Preliminary Engineering Description of the Survey Camera for the Apollo Mapping and Survey System, Volume 2. The engineering study prepared under contract by Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY for Headquarters Space System Divison (SAFSP)

 

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