Immediately before and after the 9/11 attacks the United States’ National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched three new satellites from California’s Vandenberg Air Force base, planned long before 9/11, sending up a Lacrosse radar imaging satellite on August 17, 2001, a signal detection satellite on September 9, and a K-11 satellite known as USA-116 on October 5 (Yugoslavia… 2006). In addition, two new commercial remote sensing satellites—Ikonos owned by SpaceImaging, which later became GeoEye, and QuickBird owned by Digital Globe—were launched in 1999 and 2001 respectively. These state and commercial satellite projects, planned long before the 9/11 attacks, have been key elements of US global reconnaissance in the context of the war on terror. To support the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the NRO reportedly had six spy satellites flying over the country each hour (Yugoslavia… 2006). Between 2001 and 2013, the NRO launched an estimated 24 more satellites into orbit, with several more waiting in the wings, and US private remote sensing companies have launched at least 6 more earth imaging satellites.
- Satellite Image
- Satellite Imagery
- Defense Department
- Open Source Data
- Commercial Satellite
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I would like to thank members of the Militarization Research Focus Group at UC Davis and the Scholars Program in Communication and Culture at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania for feedback and support while I worked on versions of this essay, especially Caren Kaplan and Barbie Zelizer and two anonymous readers. I also thank Julie Cupples and Kevin Glynn for their intellectual support and collegiality and for inspiring me with their work.
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Parks, L. (2015). Vertical Mediation: Geospatial Imagery and the US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In: Mains, S., Cupples, J., Lukinbeal, C. (eds) Mediated Geographies and Geographies of Media. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9969-0_10
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