Persistent Surveillance

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


The Chinese maritime surveillance system

An analysis of the Chinese reconnaissance satellites, and their maritime surveillance capabilities This article initially appeared on, 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.… Continue reading The Chinese maritime surveillance system

Pleiades NEO, the Airbus Very High Resolution constellation

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

History of the US reconnaissance system

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 might come later). I used Susan D. Schultz's chronology in Why… Continue reading History of the US reconnaissance system

What do users really want, anyway?

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?

The Future of Optical Earth Observation

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