A history of the top secret CORONA spy satellite missions (not officially revealed until 1992), believed by many experts to be the most important modern development in intelligence gathering. Day (a research associate at the Space Policy institute at George Washington Univ.), Logsdon (director of the Space Policy Institute), and Latell (editor of the CIA's journal Studies in Intelligence) have gathered together essays by many figures active in the program, producing a fascinating record of the evolution and impact of this crucial and revolutionary program. The Cold War created a pressing need for more and better intelligence. While the U2 spy planes greatly increased the kind and quality of information the intelligence establishment could generate, the downing of a U2 by the Soviets demonstrated that the planes were not invulnerable. The CORONA program was initially conceived as a way of keeping a close eye on the Soviet military without violating Russian borders. The development both of cameras capable of taking detailed photographs from great distances and of the satellites capable of carrying them into orbit and responding to exceedingly precise commands, required a series of technological breakthroughs--all accomplished in great secrecy. As the book documents, the volume (800,000 photographs between 1960 and 1972) and quality of the information the satellites generated took the intelligence establishment by surprise, allowing the US to identify all of the Soviet ballistic missile sites, military bases, and secret industrial complexes. The unparalleled documentation allowed the US to plan its own missile program with accuracy, saving a considerable amount of money, and to negotiate arms treaties from a position of strength. Because of CORONA, the Soviet Union and other potential enemy nations, once cloaked in secrecy, became open books. A story of a little known American achievement that played an essential role in containing hostilities during the Cold War.