German media recently reported the country will procure a new high-resolution optical satellite. According to the press, this satellite will be operated by the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence service. Such a purchase breaks from the German tradition of operating only radar satellites, under the control of the military, and thus marks an unexpected shift in… Continue reading A new German space policy?
France currently has a vigorous earth observation industry, which captures a large part of the export market for reconnaissance satellites. It has not always been this way: contrary to the USA or the USSR, France has never had film-return optical satellites, and orbited its own space reconnaissance systems roughly 30 years later than them. In… Continue reading History of the French reconnaissance system
The future of Earth observation, Part III This post is a part of a series on the future of earth observation, and is a follow up to The Future of Optical Earth Observation I: The road so far and The Future of Earth Observation II: What do users really want, anyway? Originally, satellite imagery consisted of… Continue reading Persistent Surveillance
An analysis of the Chinese reconnaissance satellites, and their maritime surveillance capabilities This article initially appeared on eastpendulum.com, a French-language blog about the Chinese military and aerospace industry Historical context Ever since the Communist Party conquered mainland China in 1949, the island of Taiwan has been a source of tension in the region. The defeated… Continue reading The Chinese maritime surveillance system
Airbus will launch two pairs of optical satellites, one in 2020 and one in 2021, to form a constellation with two orbital planes enabling two revisits per day. The satellites will have a 30cm resolution, a 14km swath, and orbit at 620km altitude. They will leverage the EDRS data relay satellites for ultra-fast tasking and… Continue reading Pleiades NEO, the Airbus Very High Resolution constellation
I wanted to make a short post on today's US spy satellites, but I realized that to speculate about them, it's better to have some historical perspective. So I assembled a condensed history of the US reconnaissance system (only for imagery, the electronic side is covered in History of the US high-altitude SIGINT system). I… Continue reading History of the US reconnaissance system
The Future of Earth Observation, Part II Earth observation satellites do not come cheap. As mentioned in the previous post of this series, until a few years ago, they could cost a few hundred million dollars a piece to build and launch. This makes satellite observation expensive, even for organisations that only buy the images.… Continue reading What do users really want, anyway?
Part I: The road so far Commercial Earth observation is undergoing rapid changes: much like rocket companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and a handful of others are challenging the established players in the launch industry, new ways of doing things are being introduced by "new space" companies in the commercial Earth Observation business. Can… Continue reading The Future of Optical Earth Observation
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