Cover: Commercial Observation Satellites

Commercial Observation Satellites

At the Leading Edge of Global Transparency

Edited by John C. Baker, Kevin M. O'Connell, Ray Williamson

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Wide access to satellite imagery and related products has expanded rapidly since the end of the Cold War. Leading the way into this new era of global transparency is a new generation of high-resolution commercial and civilian imaging satellites that will offer almost anyone timely overhead images of locations that are geographically remote, politically inaccessible, or simply difficult to comprehend without an overhead perspective. But whether these systems are commercially viable remains to be seen in the long run. The probable effects on world affairs are highly uncertain and depend deeply on other economic, technological, and political trends. Still, on balance, greater transparency is likely to provide significant benefits. And the policy community will need to improve its ability to deal with new technologies. But regardless of how one views the political and economic effects, the phenomenon of global transparency is still developing, both from the standpoint of data from high-resolution earth-observation satellites and from the other information technologies that support these data and make them particularly useful in monitoring and better understanding global developments.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword

  • Preface

  • Acknowledgements


  • Chapter 1


    John C. Baker, Ray A. Williamson, and Kevin M. O'Connell

  • Section I

    The Policymaking Context

  • Chapter 2

    The Origins and Evolution of Openness in Overhead Global Observations

    Richard S. Leghorn and Gregg Herken

  • Chapter 3

    Remote Sensing Policy and the Development of Commercial Remote Sensing

    Ray A. Williamson

  • Chapter 4

    From Space Imagery to Information: Commercial Remote Sensing Market Factors and Trends

    Kevin O'Connell and Beth E. Lachman

  • Chapter 5

    Emerging Technologies: Emerging Issues for Space Remote Sensing

    Bob Preston

  • Chapter 6

    Security Implications of Commercial Statellite Imagery

    John C. Baker and Dana J. Johnson

  • Section II

    National Remote Sensing Programs and Policies

  • Chapter 7

    U.S. Remote Sensing Programs and Policies

    Kevin M. O'Connell and Gregory Hilgenberg

  • Chapter 8

    Russian Remote Sensing Programs and Policies

    George Tahu

  • Chapter 9

    The French Pioneering Approach to Global Transparency

    Isabelle Sourbes-Verger and Xavier Pasco

  • Chapter 10

    Japanese Remote Sensing Policy at a Crossroads

    Kazuto Suzuki

  • Chapter 11

    Commercial Observation Satellites in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf

    Gerald M. Steinberg

  • Chapter 12

    The Indian Space Program

    Deborah Foster

  • Chapter 13

    Canada's Remote Sensing Program and Policies

    Michel Bourbonniere and Louis Haeck

  • Section III

    Remote Sensing Applications to International Problems

  • Chapter 14

    Supporting the Dayton Peace Talks

    Richard G. Johnson

  • Chapter 15

    Imagery and Mapping Support to the Ecuador-Peru Peace Process

    John Gates and John Weikel

  • Chapter 16

    Keeping an Eye on the Islands: Cooperative Remote Monitoring in the South China Sea

    Vipin Gupta and Adam Bernstein

  • Chapter 17

    The Role of Commercial Satellite Imagery in Locating South Asian Nuclear Test Sites

    David Albight and Corey Gay Hinderstein

  • Chapter 18

    Nongovernmental Use of Commercial Satelllite Imagery for Achieving Nuclear Nonproliferation Goals: Perspectives and Case Studies

    David Albright and Corey Gay Hinderstein

  • Chapter 19

    Supporting Humanitarian Relief Operations

    Einar Bjorgo

  • Section IV

    Emerging International Policy Issues

  • Chapter 20

    The Global Politics of Commercial Observation Satellites

    Ann M. Florini and Yahya A. Dehqanzada

  • Chapter 21

    How Open Will the Skies Really Be?

    Mark David Gabriele

  • Chapter 22

    The Globalization of Transparency: The Use of Commercial Satellite Imagery by Nongovernmental Organizations

    Karen T. Litfin

  • Chapter 23

    Remote Sensing Technology and the News Media

    Steven Livingston

  • Chapter 24

    Space Remote Sensing Regulatory Landscape

    Robert Preston

  • Chapter 25

    New Users and Established Experts: Bridging the Knowledge Gap in Interpreting Commercial Satellite Imagery

    John C. Baker

  • Chapter 26


    John C. Baker, Kevin M. O'Connell, and Ray A. Williamson

  • Appendix A

    List of Abbreviations

  • Appendix B

    The Past, Present, and Future of the Medium- and High- Resolution Satellite World by William E. Stoney

  • Appendix C

    Color Plates

  • Appendix D

    About the Authors

  • Appendix E

    Selected Bibliography

  • Index

"Not a day seems to go by without reference in the general press to the role presently played by high resolution imaging satellites in the war against terrorism. This excellent compilation is therefore both topical and timely, placing the U.S. IKONOS and other current 'dual use' military/ civil satellites in an historical and political context, in an era where new communications technology can now provide near 'on-demand' access to their metre level ground resolution imagery… The authors propose that the applicability of these imagery products to an increasing range of real-world issues provides both an opportunity for economic and political development but also a threat to policy makers; global transparency is fast becoming a fact of life! A highly recommended overview."

- The Aerospace Professional

"This is not only a book about space technology. It tackles the question of how space technologies are part, or even become drivers of, strategic global development. In the case of this book it is the influence of Earth observation by satellite on the global information society and its trend towards steadily increasing transparency… To give an immediate assessment of [the editors'] effort, it can be stated that they have succeeded in not only providing a most fascinating and illustrative description of the capabilities of this space application, but they also arrive at an exemplary analysis of the various policy issues… It is a particular virtue of this book that it draws a truly realistic picture of the subject and provides convincing answers to every question it poses."

- Space Policy

"An international group of experts provides 26 chapters on all aspects of the topic, including emerging policy issues, US and non-US satellite remote sensing programs, and remote sensing applications to international problems, including Dayton Peace talks, the Ecuador-Peru peace process, remote monitoring in the South China Sea, the role of commercial satellite imagery in locating south Asian nuclear test sites, and supporting humanitarian relief operations. Two of the editors are affiliated with the RAND Corporation, the third teaches at the George Washington University Space Policy Institute."

- Book News, Inc.

"While the [U.S. military space policy] review is underway, the RAND Corporation thank tank has released a new study of commercial remote sensing that will likely be a definitive guide for policymakers during the current round of studies."

- Spacelift Washington

"This publication is a useful addition to the remote sensing literature. It contains policy issues that many users of the data have not considered nor been well informed of. The book is well presented, well organized and easy to use. It could conceivably be a textbook on a policy in remote sensing course. Most users will use it selectively as a reference book or for general knowledge. In addition to the policy issues, there is a considerable amount of other information."

- Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing

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