The Twister

The Twister and its Inventor, Don Cowles

A key patented invention that enabled the Hexagon camera system to succeed was that of the “twister.” This was a mechanical device, shown below, that allowed the film to travel both linearly and in rotation past the focal plane of the camera. It made the film travel over air bars that twisted back and forth in rotation and in synchronization with the rotating image.  


Twister, jpeg.jpg

Don Cowles, a mechanical engineer at Perkin-Elmer invented and developed the twister. He was acknowledged and honored at a celebration at Perkin-Elmer in Danbury, Connecticut many years ago by Chester Nimitz, Jr, CEO of Perkin-Elmer and attended by many other staff members of the program.

Don Cowles facing front .jpeg

The Underside of the Hexagon Reconnaissance Satellite

The Underside of the Hexagon Vehicle

This is a view of the underside of the Hexagon reconnaissance satellite. The imagery that 19 orbital missions produced over 15 years provided key intelligence information for the United States and helped keep the peace during the cold war.

The photo shows the aft section on the left that contained the film reels, the middle section contained the two cameras, one facing 10 degrees forward and the other facing 10 degrees to the rear, thus providing the ability to take stereo photos. The forward section contained four Re-Entry vehicles that periodically returned the used film to earth.

Underside of Hexgon vehicle .jpeg