Space: February 5, 2004
Commercial space imagery (satellite photos) are becoming a commodity. Currently, you can get high resolution (items under a meter in diameter can be recognized) for about $20 per square kilometer, with a minimum order of some $1,500. It costs more to get a more recent shot of a particular area. But this industry has become very competitive, with over half a dozen major players out looking for new business. The space imagery companies recognize the need to be discreet, and will keep a clients name, and needs, confidential. While some countries still want to put their own satellites up, this is so they can have the dedicated use of a photo satellite whenever they need it. While American military satellites have the best resolution (a few inches, or less), the best commercial satellites can give you 24 inch resolution. In practical terms, this can show you B-52 bombers on an airfield, with the ability to make out the turbine blades in the jet engines. The photos are not always from directly above, the cameras can shoot at an angle and give you 3-D like detail.