It seems to me we have 2 thread discussions going now, the 2nd one hinging on the 1st, "was it KH-224?" I believe it was with the information that's out there.
Yes, it was an "Advanced KH-11". There's no need to further debate that.
If my hunch is correct, satellites should be able to pick up much smaller units (tanks, personnel).
This is where I have to quote SeaQueen with a big fat "it depends...".
Can you detect a truck with a modern IMGSAT? Sure, and the photo above it (and others long before it - check the 1984 Samuel Loring Morison photos of the Nikolayev shipyard) is strong evidence of that.
BUT: the satellite was not actually searching for the truck itself, it was looking at a known fixed target (the launchpad) and the truck happened to be there. (This BTW illustrates a possible need for the sensory model to allow deep-zoom sensors to detect ancillary targets if they are in the vicinity of pre-known targets of interest).
Would the sat have been able to search a large area on its own for that specific truck and detect it? Almost certainly not, because of the "soda straw" effect when using a deep-zoom optical sensor. That very same sensor, when used in wide-area surveillance mode (ie. no zoom) would probably not be able to detect vehicle-sized targets. _However_, if the satellite was cued to the target by another sensor actually capable of performing area volume search (say, a Lacrosse SAR satellite) then it would be possible. (See where the "it depends" comes from?)
(As an aside, the ability to image a large area in one go and pick out targets of interest is commonly referred to as "synoptic coverage", and is a much sought-after capability. See for example the Gorgon Stare system. The NRO & USAF used to have a dedicated satellite for this up to the mid-80s, the KH-9 Hexagon, and its awesome capabilities are still missed.)
This is actually a pretty common multi-sensor collaboration scenario: Volume/area-search sensors (like radars) mass-sweep an area (or airspace) for targets, and then other sensors which are very limited in broad search but very capable in deep-zoom (like satellite close-look cameras or FLIR pods) zoom-in on the detected contacts and classify them, identify them and/or perform detailed BDA on them (and sometimes also other details, such as "what aircraft are on this tarmac"). Sometimes the sensors are co-located on the same platform (e.g. AWG-9 & TCS on F-14, APQ-120 & TESEO on F-4E, APG-71 & LANTIRN on F-15E etc. etc.), other times they are distributed.
< Message edited by Dimitris -- 3/29/2021 5:12:09 PM >