6594th Test Group Description
Large portions of the Test Group's mission were classified until 1995 when information concerning Project CORONA was declassified. The 6594th was largely concerned with retrieving film canisters, about the size of a garbage can, in midair that had been ejected from some of the United States' earliest spy satellites.
These canisters were among the first objects sent into space that were designed to survive re-entry. Upon entering the ionosphere, they could resemble a shooting, or falling, star. Thus, the unit's motto "To Catch a Falling Star".
Because retrieval occurred over water in the Pacific, rescue swimmers were a standard part of the mission crew. Thus, when the 6594th was not busy with their primary mission, they were often available to support the US Coast Guard and other agencies in Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. The 6594th Test Group had one of the best records for open water rescues in the U.S. Air Force.
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