Ice Station Zebra, anyone?
From the Daily Fail:
The daring mission to retrieve a top-secret CIA satellite from the bottom of the ocean at the height of the Cold War was kept under wraps for 40 years - until the spy agency decided to lift the lid.
Last week, the mission was declassified, and the report and photos of the effort to recover the Hexagon satellite were made available for public consumption.
But as the Hexagon (sic) re-entered earth’s atmosphere, a parachute designed to soften its landing broke, and the craft plummeted into the Pacific Ocean.
For months, the satellite - and its 60 miles of film - were lost on the sea floor.
Space.com reported that two missions to retrieve the satellite in 1971 failed, but the Navy tried again on April 25, 1972.
In the third mission, the Navy used its Trieste II Deep Sea Vehicle – complete with a mechanical arm – to bring the Hexagon to the surface.
There was, however, one setback.
The report said: 'The third attempt was successful in locating and securing the film stacks; however, as the Trieste was surfacing, the film broke into pieces. Twenty-five feet was recovered.'
Fortunately the film was made in 1968, well before the recovery effort. Or some interesting questions would have been asked...