The CIA Declassifies Documents Outlining Incredible Deep-Sea Recovery of Spy Satellite Capsule

It was July 10, 1971 and we were in the heart of the cold war. The U.S. was running a super secret satellite spying operation code-named Hexagon. This was long before the days of digital cameras and Google earth. Spy photos were stored on Kodak film and when the time came for them to be sent back to earth, they were jettisoned from the satellite via a capsule called a Hexagon recovery vehicle. Unfortunately, on this particular day things went very wrong. The parachute carrying the RV didn’t deploy correctly and literally tore off at the swivel. The RV hit the surface of the ocean at 2600 g’s and sank in 16,000 feet of water. This is just a piece of a riveting story that can be found in newly declassified CIA documents. What follows is a story of a rescue mission that reaches record depths and is mingled with excitement and disappointment.

According to the CIA “Memorandum for the Record“, it was decided to bring in the Navy for a recovery attempt. This was no easy task. There were several challenges outlined in the memorandum:

a. The ability to locate the impact area accurately.
b. The amount of damage caused by the impact and the corrosive
effects from sea water.
c. No object of this size had been actively searched for and
located by sonar.
d. The Trieste II had not gone below 10,000 feet.

Three recovery attempts were made. The first failed attempt was November 3, 1971. The second failed attempt was November 30, 1971. The third attempt was a little more successful. On April 25, 1972, the Trieste II successfully found and grasped the RV capsule. Unfortunately, due to the pressure changes while rising to the surface, the film basically shredded and they were only able to recover a remnant. The end result was not ideal but the CIA remained pretty optimistic despite the circumstance. It appears what the Navy was able to accomplish in the midst of much turmoil proved to be an encouraging turn of events. The memorandum ends with the following.

In summary, the significance of the objective of recovering the film for intelligence use was considerably reduced after the 1202 mission,
and the motivating force became the demonstration of the capability to effect a deep sea recovery. This was successfully accomplished with the
recovery of the two film stacks on the third dive. All of the men involved remained enthusiastic and determined throughout the many frustrations and
are to be commended for their fine efforts.

Below, I have included a photo gallery with some of the amazing underwater photos from the recovery effort.


Review: Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery

Admit it, we’ve all deleted the wrong file on our flash drives or wiped the wrong hard drive. Unfortunately, these files are unrecoverable if you don’t use an automatic backup service such as Time Machine or make backups of your flash drives. Luckily for us, Stellar Data has decided to fix this issue by making their own affordable data recovery software for Mac.

Stellar’s Mac data recovery software can recover files from almost any HFS, HFS+, HFS Wrapper or FAT based drives. This includes flash drives, hard drives and iPods in disk mode. In my review, I will show you how to recover these files and give you my thoughts on whether you should buy Stellar Phoenix for Mac. Are you using a PC? If so, check out this review.

Using Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery

Installing this recovery software is as easy as installing another Mac app: just drag and drop the app to your Applications folder. Once you’ve purchased a key for the software, you can register it via the “Registration Tool” where you can copy and paste your purchased key. At the time of this review, Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery costs $99 for a digital copy or $119 (plus shipping) for a physical copy of the software. If you’re purchasing for your school or business, prices may vary.

Once you’ve launched the app for the very first time, you may notice the only major downside to this application: the interface. The images seem a bit “cheesy” and the buttons are oversized. While the look is unappealing, it probably won’t matter to you when you’re in the midst of panicing after accidentally deleting an important essay from your flash drive.

Recover Data Button

To actually recover a drive, click on the obnoxiously large Recover Data button which is located towards the center of the welcome screen.

Since Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery can recover such a wide variety of files and media, you have to choose what you would like to recover. You can view this list which is located towards the top of the recovery window. After you’ve chosen your drive, you can choose the extent of which you would like to recover files, such as quick, advanced and deletion recovery. Keep in mind that the higher quality of the scan you run, the longer the recovery will take.

Recovering your drive is pretty simple:  after selecting your recovery options, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can actually recover your files. You’ll be prompted to select the drive that you’d like to recover (a flash drive in my case). Phoenix will now attempt to recover your files, which you can then select and choose where to export the recovered files.

Drive Selection

If you would like to create an image of one of your drives, return to the homescreen and press the Create Image button. You can then select the drive you would like to make an image of and choose a destination for the image to be saved.

What I Think

So far, I’m a huge fan of Stellar Phoenix for Mac. It has had no trouble recovering data from a wide variety of flash drives and external hard disks. All of the deleted files were recovered without any corruption or data loss. The only problems I ran into were “jumbled” file names, which can definitely get annoying.

All in all, I think Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery is a great deal as it only costs $99 for a single user digital copy. Comparable software can costs upwards of $200 and don’t offer the extensive features of Stellar Phoenix. If you would like to buy this software for yourself, head on over to Stellar’s website for more information.

Disclosure: I would like to thank Stellar Data Recovery for sending this software over for review.