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U2 Moving to Digital


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interesting article



“Each roll of OBC film is 5 inches wide and 10,500 feet long with each frame of imagery measuring more than 6 feet long... With an entire roll of film, the camera can take about 1,600 frames in one mission. Each frame covers roughly 110 square nautical miles in a panoramic horizon-to-horizon format. Basically, a roll of film can shoot an area the size of Colorado... When the OBC was on the SR-71 it took a frame about every 1.7 seconds, but for the U-2 it was slowed down to one frame every 6.8 seconds... This had to be done because the difference in the cruising speeds of the aircraft could cause the imagery to blur if the timing and speed of the camera was wrong."

"The OBC could return into service as needed and will remain available when called upon. As of now, no perfect digital replacement has been developed. Digital imaging technology doesn't quite match the resolving power of the OBC."


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They ran out of mailers!

NASA runs a research version (ER-2) of the U2, it could likely use a film camera, but they seem to do everything digitally. The declassification of past satellite photos is giving climate scientists and the like a lot of historical data: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/science/corona-satellites-environment.html

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