The European Space Agency ESA has approved funding for the commercial utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) by RapidEye. RapidEye Inc. of Munich, Germany will now be able to place a high resolution earth observation camera on ISS making it the first commercial user in this business segment.

With this newly approved ISS-camera RapidEye is optimistic to penetrate new and improve services to already targeted markets.

RapidEye’s ISS-camera will be able to take high resolution images of major parts of Europe, North America and Asia. This will enable RapidEye to offer regular and frequent updates of highly accurate maps. The detection of changes even in urban areas – new dwellings, streets, roads and bridges – will be possible. The combination of large area coverage, high resolution and high revisit rate as well as low cost will allow frequent updates of maps.

New consumer services will also be possible and affordable. Using the internet people will be able to see up-to-date images of the next vacation destination to check for snow coverage, water pollution, or the location of the hotel. Moving will now be easier by taking a quick and inexpensive look at the new city, the location of the new house, the infrastructure, etc.

ESA, the German space agency DLR, RapidEye, Kayser-Threde GmbH, a German space company, and other European partners will jointly realize this project. ESA will partly finance the hardware and the hardware adaptations and organize transport of the camera to and the installation on the ISS. DLR will support the development of the camera. Kayser-Threde will be responsible of the technical realization of the project. RapidEye will assume operational control of the camera, process the data and market the images and information services.

RapidEye AG, incorporated in December 1998, will offer a unique, satellite-based geo-information service starting in 2005. This service will be based on a constellation of several small satellites enhanced by the ISS-camera.

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