Space: British MiniSat Launched and Working


January 2, 2006: Britain has successfully developed and launched a miniature (265 pound) photo reconnaissance satellite. Sent up in October 2005, the TopSat satellite delivered, in real time, 10 foot resolution images. This means any object ten feet long can be identified. These mini-birds provide images at about 20 percent of the cost of full size satellite. Moreover, the smaller satellites can be launched by a larger variety of launch vehicles (including land and sea-based ICBMs). The United States has been working on minisats for military purposes. The TopSat bird is intended for civilian use (disaster relief, for example.) The smaller birds are harder to find and destroy, which is a substantial military advantage. The American minisats are believed to have better resolution, making them more useful for military purposes.


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