Commercial Imaging Satellites

  • Herbert J. Kramer


The provision of high-resolution imagery in the optical and/or microwave regions — on a commercial basis by several companies with their own space- and ground segments (spacecraft, sensor complement, control center, ground receiving stations, archives, distribution networks, and extensive software), and the operation of these entities along with the provision of general and/or customized service arrangements — represents a new milestone in the field of space-flight exploitation. The investment in each venture is considerable; every major player in this game forms a consortium (or international alliances) to pool expertise, technology, and resources-and to share the risks. The overall objective in every satellite-project constellation is the provision of low-cost and high-quality data products along with expedient services for a large customer base. The strategic approach taken by industry with regard to concept design is that virtually all major system components are based on proven technologies; experience from past defense contract engagements is of great value. The introduction of a sensor-pointing capability beyond its rather limited swath-width indeed represents a new concept outside of the defense community; it extends the potential imaging coverage to the so-called field of regard (FOR), in order to make data rates manageable. The consequence of this pointing capability is “scheduled instrument operation,” permitting the imaging of scattered targets to suit customer requirements. Industry is betting on a competitive market, whose demand for high-resolution imagery goes far beyond the utilization of the rather ‘coarse-resolution’ interpretations of current satellite data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert J. Kramer
    • 1
  1. 1.GilchingGermany

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