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[infowar.de] Satellitenbilder von Afghanistan wieder frei auf dem Markt erhältlich
Die US-Regierung hatte im Oktober einen Exklusivvertrag mit Space
Imaging geschlossen, der nun nicht mehr verlängert wird. Hauptgrund
angeblich: Die Kosten von 2 Mio. Dollar im Monat. RB
U.S. Ends Afghan Image Contract
By Joanna Glasner
3:40 p.m. Jan. 18, 2002 PST
A U.S. agency has terminated an agreement with a commercial satellite
firm that had given the federal government exclusive rights to its
high-resolution images of Afghanistan.
On Friday, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), a support
agency for the U.S. Department of Defense, confirmed that it decided not
to renew a contract originally signed in October with Denver-based Space
The contract, which NIMA renewed once in November, gave the agency
rights to images collected by Space Imaging's Ikonos satellite, a
first-of-its-kind commercial satellite capable of capturing images of
the Earth's surface in one-meter resolution. (That means objects one
meter or larger can stand out in pictures.)
NIMA had renewed the contract once in November but let it expire on Dec.
5. Over the past several weeks, the agency and Space Imaging discussed
the possibility of extending an agreement but ultimately rejected such a
"NIMA did not renew it simply because after several months the situation
had changed, and we re-evaluated," said Joan Mears, a spokeswoman for
With a contract no longer in effect, the bulk of images shot for the
Pentagon and NIMA will now be available for sale to the public, said
Mark Brender, Space Imaging's director of government affairs. However,
he said the company is still negotiating with the government for rights
to a small portion of the satellite data.
Part of the government's decision to end the imaging contract was
probably financially motivated, said Tim Brown, an analyst at the
military think tank GlobalSecurity.org.
"It's $2 million a month, and I believe that for the most part it was
something of an experiment," he said. "The Defense Department's not
immune to wasting money."
Brown said another likely reason for canceling the contract was that the
government did not see a great security risk in having images available
to third parties. Except for special clients such as the U.S. military,
there is typically a lag of weeks or months between the time an order
for an image is placed and the data is delivered, he said.
In addition, satellite data isn't detailed enough to help the military
in its mission of locating Osama Bin Laden, Brown said.
"The imagery isn't of sufficient resolution to detect people, let alone
recognize them," he said.
Space Imaging's Brender said the company is not publishing fully
processed images of Afghanistan on its website. But people will be able
to browse thumbnail images at a resolution of 16 meters, which offer a
far less detailed picture than the 1 meter images available for sale.
"This sort of imagery, now that it's available and NIMA no longer
retains the licensing rights to it, is ideal to reconstruction," Brender
It could provide a base map that could be valuable for rebuilding
telecommunications networks or other damaged infrastructure, he said.
The collection of images, which includes, among other things, before and
after shots of Afghanistan's bomb-riddled Kandahar airport, also provide
"a historical look at the conduct of the conflict as best documented
from 423 miles in space," Brender said.
Although the Afghanistan contract was not the first time the Pentagon
purchased commercial satellite images, Space Imaging said it was the
first time the military had purchased images during a declared
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